Famous Philosophy Majors Poster (updated with new link)

Famous Philosophy Majors Poster (updated with new link)


Catherine Nolan, a philosophy graduate student at SUNY Buffalo, has created a great poster featuring names and photos of well-known people who majored in philosophy, called “Who Has A Degree In Philosophy?UPDATE: new link here.

She writes: “Some people commonly found in lists of philosophy majors (e.g. Woody Allen, David Duchovny) aren’t on this poster because I couldn’t find evidence to back up such claims.  If anyone finds that there are other errors in this poster, please have them contact me at [email protected], and I’ll make sure to update it. This poster can be printed as a 20″ x 32″ poster; another practical size is 11″ x 17.6″, but it can be scaled to other sizes as well.” Thanks, Ms. Nolan!

Relatedly, there’s the Philosophy Students tumblr, maintained by Zac Cogley (Northern Michigan).

famous philosophy majors 2

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Lisa Shapiro
Lisa Shapiro
6 years ago

A link to a power point presentation of ‘Who Has a Philosophy Degree?” we’ve used at various open houses can be found here: http://www.sfu.ca/philosophy/resources.html It includes several of the people on the poster, but also others, and in particular more women.Report

John Schwenkler
6 years ago

“Jean-Paul Sartre — Existentialist”. I love it.Report

Aaron Garrett
Aaron Garrett
6 years ago

Zola Jesus not only has a philosophy degree from UW Madison, she also has an album called “Conatus”.Report

Kathleen Wallace
6 years ago

Terrific! Thank you Catherine! Also, thanks to Lisa Shapiro for link to powerpoint on same.Report

Anon.
6 years ago

Terrence Malick!Report

Joe Berendzen
Joe Berendzen
6 years ago

The inclusion of Sartre and Beauvoir on this poster is bizarre. The point of the poster seems to be to feature people who are famous but not generally thought of as philosophers, in which case both are misplaced.Report

praymont
6 years ago

I don’t think Trudeau, King, or McNamara majored in philosophy. King seems to have majored in sociology (followed by an MDiv and doctoral degree in theology): http://www.lib.lsu.edu/hum/mlk/srs218.html
Trudeau went straight into law and did grad work in economics and politics: http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio.php?BioId=42553
McNamara’s undergrad major was economics, though he minored in philosophy: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/07/us/07mcnamara.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0Report

Daniel Hill
Daniel Hill
6 years ago

It’s worth noting that quite a lot of senior British politicians, including several Prime Ministers (e.g. David Cameron), studied Philosophy as part of a degree in Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (‘PPE’).Report

anon
anon
6 years ago

I don’t think Beauvoir and Sartre are too bizarre, since both are also novelists, Sartre’s most known for theatre and Beauvoir’s most known for The Second Sex, so many may not be aware they’re trained philosophers.

I second the vote for Terence Malick, one of the most important American filmmakers of his generation.

If the goal is to show that important, talented, and successful people are interested in philosophy, I see no reason to restrict it to majors. Woody Allen, e.g., took courses and talks about it, but didn’t major in it.

I think Steve Martin and George Carlin, among others, were also majors or students.Report

Catherine Nolan
6 years ago

Wow – I didn’t realize that dropbox could be slashdotted. Apparently my public folder may not be working; here’s a new link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B1k1qSRoDpuOeDVkYm10bTg3V3lCUGEtRGJoVDRaOU1fSWx3/view?usp=sharing
I’ll try to get something more permanent up soon.

Also, thanks everyone for the corrections and suggestions! I’ll be updating the poster over the next several days and will make sure the links are to the newest version.Report

Don
Don
6 years ago

Every Pope this century is a Philosophy major.Report

Jim
Jim
6 years ago

You might include Pauline Kael. She was a philosophy major, though if I’m not mistaken she left before receiving a degree.Report

Matt Weiner
6 years ago

Matthew Weiner–not me, the Mad Men creator–is often described as having studied “history, literature, and philosophy,” though this may just be a description of Wesleyan’s College of Letters.

Houston Texans running back Arian Foster majored in Philosophy at the University of Tennessee.Report

Jeremy
Jeremy
6 years ago

I believe that Woody Allen was expelled from college for cheating on his Philosophy final exam … by looking into the soul of the student sitting next to him.Report

Mark Murphy
Mark Murphy
6 years ago

Norah O’Donnell from CBS was a Georgetown philosophy major.Report

Owen Schaefer
Owen Schaefer
6 years ago

A few possible additions (according to Wikipedia): Deepa Mehta, Chris Hayes, Fred Thompson, Robert Antoine Pinchon, Luc Dardenne, Park Chan-Wook, Athol Fugard (drop-out), Alfonso Cuaron, Ivo Andric, Boris Pasternak (didn’t finish?) and, dubiously, James O’Keefe

Also, is there a statute of limitations on this? Many classical Greco-Roman figures studied philosophy, including Marc Antony, Gaius Cassius Longinus, Marcus Aurelius and Alexander the Great (though I suppose those were more ‘integrated’ studies, even moreso than modern PPE degrees)Report

Jerry Dworkin
Jerry Dworkin
6 years ago

Sheila Bair, former FDIC chairwoman, Kansas philosophy degree
Definitely Terry Malick, who graduated summa at Harvard, and taught at MIT.
Michael Frayn read Moral Sciences at Cambridge
T S Elliot was an undergraduate major at Harvard. He did graduate work at the Sorbonne and Harvard
Elmore Leonard graduated with a joint major in English and Philosophy.
Zeno–would have graduated but just kept getting closer and closer to the degreeReport

anon
anon
6 years ago

Are these photos all in the public domain?Report

Catherine Nolan
6 years ago

Thanks again for the suggestions! I’ve updated the poster, adding some popular individuals (e.g. Terrence Malick) and removing others who actually did not have a philosophy major (e.g. Martin Luther King Jr, Stephen Colbert). Hope this is helpful!Report

Luuk
Luuk
11 months ago

One must enjoy the unsubstantiated implication of some sort of causal relationship between philosophical studies and artistic, professional, and other types of success.

Incidentally, while I find this poster rather fun, it reeks of a desperate attempt to convince students of the value of philosophy (ranking up there with the LSAT score argument). If studying philosophy retains some value for our time, surely this value lies far away from such arguments. Report