March 3, 2012
What do Danny Alexander, Ed Balls, David Cameron, Yvette Cooper, William Hauge, both Milibands, Aung San Suu Kyi, Bill Clinton, Toby Young, Stephen Hester and Rupert Murdoch have in common? Two things: they are all very important people, with more than their fair share of influence over the rest of us; and they all studied* for a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE).
The subjects that make up the PPE course are vital for an understanding of the world (and of how to change it), and should be available to all. Our country’s ruling class, as this BBC article notes, is made up of PPE graduates. However, in Britain at least, these subjects are restricted to a select few who have the means, fortune and intelligence to get onto the famous course at Oxford*. My view is that Britain would have a far more open, informed and democratic society if PPE subjects were taught in state schools.
Philosophy (for a far better article on the teaching of philosophy click here)
Quoted by Julian Baggini in The Philosophers’ Magazine, senior fellow in the public understanding of philosophy, Angela Hobbs, made the case for teaching children philosophy. She says a knowledge of philosophy creates ‘a bright, inquisitive teenager’ – and surely having an ability to ask and understand questions such as ‘What is good?’ ‘What is happiness?’ and ‘What exists?’ makes for a more rounded person. The philosophical method, ‘the ability to construct and analyse an argument,’ Hobbs says, is something that ‘you’re going to need whatever you go on to do after you leave school.’
If philosophy teaches one thing, it’s to question accepted truths. A country of philosophy scholars would never let a politician get away with saying that he has all the answers; it would always ask ‘How do you know? What do you mean?’. A philosopher can see through a media image, can analyse and criticise any argument, and can understand the plight of others. A philosopher wouldn’t be surprised that our ruling class of PPE graduates has conspired to stop us learning these skills. Read more of this post