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Mary Midgley and Philosophy as Plumbing

By Jack Walker - Philosophy Student @ Churchill College, Cambridge


I suspect that, like me, many students in the humanities often feel the need to justify the importance of their subject, especially when comparing ourselves to friends in STEM fields. When reading philosophy, I often find myself wondering, ‘Does any of this stuff actually matter?’ In my lowest moods, studying philosophy can even feel like I am doing something morally wrong – when there is so much bad in the world, isn’t it self-indulgent to spend so much time navel gazing? This article details my favourite response to these kinds of pessimistic questions, focusing on an analogy from the wonderful philosopher Mary Midgley.