I found this WaPo piece intriguing for a number of reasons, "Philosophical counselors rely on eternal wisdom of great thinkers." It outlines the attempts of some of those who, for various reasons, were looking for ways to make their academic philosophical training relevant and practical. They found their answer in "philosophical counseling." Read the piece for an introduction to this line of work.
Here I want to highlight what one of these "philosopreneurs" says about the applicability of philosophy today:
Colleges and universities responding to the demand for majors that students can bring to the bank have cut philosophy departments and classes, decreasing the number of teaching jobs. The last thing a parent wants to hear in this economy is that their college student hopes to makes a career of pondering life’s cosmic questions.
As Marinoff puts it, “What are the first words a philosophy graduate utters? ‘Would you like fries with that, sir?’
“See, the fries joke, that’s exactly what we are trying to change,” Marinoff said. “The Greeks had ancient philosophers at every street corner. Today, our society is more like Rome with our circus culture. It’s all very entertaining. But we have to change the public perception of a philosopher as some useless academic relic.”
It strikes me that theology faces the same challenge as philosophy in this regard. I've posted some further thoughts on the implications for higher ed over at the Acton Institute PowerBlog, but here I want to ask: Are we more like Athens or Rome? Is Marinoff right to say the latter? And what does that mean for philosophy and theology today?
On my read of Peter Leithart's Defending Constantine, he would probably agree that we are like Rome with our infatuation with blood, bread, and circuses. And on what that means for Christian cultural engagement and apologetics, J. Daryl Charles has a good bit to say in his Retrieving the Natural Law.