(This post is part of the series on postsecondary education.)
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Not much time to continue posting just yet, but I wanted to highlight something Rebekka wrote in the second of her comments to the first Postsecondary Education Questions post.
I love this comment because so many people assume that a career must be either "practical" or "philosophical," in the sense of sparking the imagination to consider the deep questions of human existence. I can immediately see how nursing (as well as many other health care professions) can be both.
Personally, I found engineering to be a very philosophical field of study, but I always thought that was because I was kind of a weirdo; given enough time I could explain it, I suppose. (I know of at least one blog that's all about philosophy and engineering.) Mothering and running a household is almost excruciatingly philosophical. Maybe not all kinds of necessary human work are stimulating to the intellect, but I bet it is more of them than people commonly think. On the other hand, maybe they all can be as long as they are filled by the right person who is willing to let his mind wander from the available starting points.
Every profession and trade has a set of ethics, and is ultimately practiced for the good of real human beings (or else is sterile). One could always set out to learn and work in a profession or trade with the end goal of becoming specialized in any side of it which interacts with the human condition, either intellectually or physically. It certainly makes a lot of sense to start at the manual end and progress toward the intellectual end, because one would hope that the thoughts of those who consider the deep questions are at least somewhat informed by the realities of day-to-day practice.
But there is probably something to be said for going the other way, too, if you can.
What say you on this subject, Darwins? Others?