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Philosophy & Humanities

College of Arts & Sciences

We’re proud of all our graduates, and their many varied accomplishments, but please allow us to introduce just one (for now).  Meet Kevin Carlson …

 photo of Kevin Carlson Kevin is graduate of Greeneville High School. At      ETSU he was a double major in philosophy and    economics, a University Honors Scholar and    served for several years on SGA. He graduated in  Spring 2016 and is now attending The University of  Chicago Law School.


   Kevin, would you say that you’re glad you majored in philosophy?

Yes, quite glad. I find it hard to believe that I would be any kind of decent writer now were it not for my philosophy course work. Further, I am finding that the ability to think critically and engage in rational discourse has no limit in terms of practical application. It is perhaps ironic that people would describe philosophy as   impractical considering that critical thinking, logic, and effective argumentation find their way into one's everyday life and will certainly be expected at any job worth having. As with the cliché "give a man a fish, he eats for a day; teach a man to fish, he eats for a lifetime," so too does philosophy teach one to think and learn in such a way that will benefit them far beyond any facts they will accumulate with another field of study.

How do you think the skills you developed through philosophy are relevant to your current job?

Though I cannot yet say with certainty, it seems clear that critical thinking and argumentation will play key roles in my future job as an attorney. Also, for what it is worth, many of the students at UChicago (and presumably other top law schools) were philosophy majors and seem to enjoy spending their leisure/social time arguing over really interesting ideas at a really high level. Without at least some kind of philosophical course work, I am unsure how one would begin to engage with these people even in just day to day conversation.

Finally, in what ways do you think philosophy has enhanced your life outside work?

Interesting question, and one that prospective philosophy majors probably don't think to ask. I entered college with a clear set of beliefs and ideas about how the world is. Four years of philosophy later, I realize now that many of my core beliefs were misguided. This is due to a diverse array of factors, but probably could have been avoided to some extent were I a stronger critical thinker at a younger age. As a result of my education, I believe that I now have a considerably more robust and reasonable belief system that makes me a better person. Am I living a bona fide Socratic/Platonic "good life?" Probably not. Am I a better person with better values? Almost certainly. It's hard to pin down the exact value of having good beliefs, but I can at least rest more easily knowing that I am a better student of the world  than I was.

Thanks for your time Kevin, and good luck in Chicago!




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