Friday, January 23, 2009

Recession Hits Philosophy Industry

NEW YORK- A philosophy degree once guaranteed a steady job with a big salary, but these days, even the most stable professions are taking a hit, as NYU philosophy major, Darren Jacobs is discovering. Eight months after graduating with honors for his thesis, A Phenomenological Refutation of Perceptual Reality," Jacobs still hasn't found work in his field. "A year ago, I never would've believed this," Jacobs laments. "I mean, who's ever heard of an unemployed philosopher?

Once merely a theoretical construct, the proposition of the unemployed philosopher is becoming empirical reality. Several Fortune 500 companies have stopped philosophical production altogether, while others have outsourced their philosophy departments. "We had to move our division to India," explains Heinrich Murmer, Ford Motor Company's Vice-President of Theoretical Reasoning. "Traditional western philosophy just couldn't compete with the harmony of eastern thought."

"We've seen the burst of the philosophy bubble," says freelance philosopher, Richard Nelson. "I used to buy up a hypothesis, add another level to it, upgrade it to a theorem and double my money. Now the bank's foreclosed on my Weltanschauung and I'm lucky if I can afford a simple opinion."

Nelson regrets having missed the early warning signs of a philosophy collapse. "I think the real paradigm shift began about the time we started hearing the phrase 'paradigm shift' everywhere. I mean if you're not an actual philosopher, and you're using the word 'paradigm,' something is really f----d up."

The downturn is most apparent in New York's philosophical district, where several deconstruction sites have had to shut down. "It really changes the neighborhood," says resident, Kristine Moss. "The deconstruction workers used to whistle when I walked by, and make comments about the social construction of the fetishized female form. But now there's just absence."

Major philosophical journals have taken a hit as well. Subscriptions are down for Maxim (which is named for the Kantian maxim, or "subjective principle of human actions"), FHM (which stands for Following Heidegger's Methodology), and Playboy (which has pictures of naked women in it).

The crash of the philosophy market has raised concerns in other traditionally stable industries. "There is true peril in the moment," warns M.C. Allan of the United Poetry Workers Union. "With the tightening of many elf-hammered belts, the dulcet voice of the Rubenesque Muse may cease to comfort the American people."

As for Jacobs, he has had to take a minimum wage job as a coffee barista while waiting for the economy to rebound. "As a Cartesian dualist, I keep reminding myself that the material properties of my existence, e.g. my crappy job and apartment, are irrelevant to the condition of my true self," Jacobs relates, "which is my faculty of reason." Returning attention to the soy chai latte he is preparing for this reporter, Jacobs adds "but the truth is, this f---ing sucks."

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