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Adam I. Gerard
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Philosophers in Business and Government

Most people have love or hate relationship with academic philosophy. They either hold it up as the Queen of Sciences or reject it as an unworthy discipline lacking rigor, practicality, and evidence.

Meta Philosophy

I’ve made my meta-philosophy (or philosophy about what I think philosophy is) position clear: I’m broadly a pragmatist (not a realist) with some instrumentalist leanings. I tend to think that philosophy is a repository for ideas (which is useful in its own right even when those ideas are sometimes wrong).

I believe that philosophy contributes only glacially to human knowledge but ultimately leads to most of the great foundational breakthroughs. Consider:

  1. The term scientist was coined by the philosopher Whewell. Other philosophers like Newton, Hume, Carnap, etc. helped to further refine what modern science is.
  2. Theology is a field largely dominated by St. Augustine, Luther, Calvin, and Aquinas.
  3. Modern theories of law and public policy come from contractarians and theorists like Rawls.
  4. Modern linguistics comes from Chomsky's generative grammar.
  5. Psychology as a social science comes from James (also one of the father's of pramaticism / pragmatism).
  6. Economics has largely been shaped by philosophers (or at least a reaction to philosophers) like Marx.
  7. Mathematics was largely founded and spearheaded by Pythagoras, Tarski, Pierce, Frege, etc.

Business and Software

Some important philosophers today (that're mostly outside academia):

https://www.businessinsider.com.au/successful-philosophy-majors-2014-1

  1. Carly Fiorina - HP CEO and Republican Presidential Candidate
  2. Carl Icahn - Hedge Fund Chairman
  3. Sheila Bair - Chairman of the Federal Reserve
  4. George Soros - Hedge Fund CEO
  5. Herbert Allison Jr. - Fannie Mae CEO
  6. Gerald Levin - Time Warner CEO
  7. Patrick Byrne - Overstock Founder and CEO
  8. Stewart Butterfield - Slack Founder and CEO
  9. Peter Thiel - PayPal, Palantir Founder and CEO
  10. Reid Hoffman - LinkedIn Founder and CEO

Philosophy and GRE Scores

https://cdn.ymaws.com/www.apaonline.org/resource/resmgr/Data_on_Profession/2014_Philosophy_Performance_.pdf

https://www.ets.org/s/gre/pdf/gre_guide_table4.pdf

Philosophy majors scored the highest overall GRE Scores in 2014:

  1. Highest Verbal Score of any incoming graduate major.
  2. Highest Analytical Score of any incoming graduate major.
  3. 19/31 Highest Quantitative Score of any incoming graduate major.

This speaks a lot to the aptitude that most philosophy graduate students likely exhibit. Still, it'd be great to see the math scores get bumped up a bit!

Philosophy Replaces Engineering in China

I’m a South Korean-American and have been viewing certain changes in Communist China with wariness.

https://www.scmp.com/news/china/policies-politics/article/2117169/out-technocrats-chinas-new-breed-politicians

I’m surprised to find that China’s government has largely been replaced by Philosophers with specializations in Law and Politics. This process was already completed in 2017.

It’s oft said that China is “run by engineers” and America run by “one of the most the antic-science Congresses [in the world]" (or the like):

  1. https://gradadmissions.mit.edu/blog/where-are-all-engineers-congress
  2. https://www.jhunewsletter.com/article/2017/12/congress-needs-more-scientists-and-engineers
  3. https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/07/elon-musk-china-advantage-is-that-its-politicians-are-better-at-science.html

This trend (that China has been primarily governed by engineers) seems to have reversed recently! Surprising. Personally, I'd like to see more U.S. congresspeople with engineering backgrounds!

World Leaders and Philosophy

Some historical precedents:

Archytas:

  1. The basis of the Socratic and Platonic “Philosopher King”.
  2. Undefeated military commander and populist ruler.
  3. Miraculous mathematician (Delian Problem).
  4. First known jet-powered aircraft (steam-powered wooden bird rocket).

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/archytas/

Alexander the Great:

  1. Trained by Aristotle

Cesare Borgia:

  1. To whom Niccolò Machiavelli's The Prince was (apparently) dedicated and written for.

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