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2009-07-23
Undergraduate student wondering about the profession of a "philosopher"
   I'm currently obtaining my undergraduate degree in Philosophy, and I will continue studying philosophy after I receive my degree. If anybody would care to answer them, I have a couple of questions: how hard is it to find a faculty position or a position within a university? What is the general process of "philosophical research"? I know that sponsors generally give grants to researchers who research through seemingly "consistent" methods of research - such as lab work, experiments..et c. How is "research" undertaken in the field of philosophy? 
 Thanks

2009-07-24
Undergraduate student wondering about the profession of a "philosopher"
Reply to Bob Mckinely
How hard to find a job? Depends who's looking for a job. People in top departments seem to find it pretty easy. People in bottom departments probably find it near impossible (talking about an imaginary ranking by prestige). I think Brian Leiter has good general advice as part of the Philosophy Gourmet Report (google it). One thing to know is that if you want to work as a prof you probably won't have much choice regarding the location. As far as I can tell, the reality is that most people are forced to move state/province or country to get a job. Aiming to get a job in a particular city is not realistic even for the very best candidate.

There isn't a whole lot of research funding in philosophy. Mostly people have jobs as profs and are allowed to spend some time doing research. In Australia and Canada, at least, I know that people apply for governent grants like in the sciences, and some get them, but there is much less money. These grants are typically used to provide short-term (1 or 3 year) postdoctoral positions to fresh PhDs (as well as funding trips and visitors). I'm under the impression that the majority of salaried philosophers work as profs, spend most of their time teaching, and never get grants. But that's just my personal impression.










2010-05-24
Undergraduate student wondering about the profession of a "philosopher"
Reply to Bob Mckinely
Hi Bob.
By just about anyone's lights, the job market in philosophy is a difficult one. Though there are still good jobs to be had, there's a lot of competition for them, even if you earn your Ph.D. from a top program, publish in top journals, and otherwise do everything right. If you have any career interests other than as a philosophy professor, you'll want to seriously consider pursuing those other interests before (or instead of) going on to graduate school, especially if your other field of interest would give you a broader variety of career options. If nothing else, it wouldn't hurt to have a fall-back option in another field in case a career in philosophy doesn't materialize.  And heck, if it's a somewhat related field (e.g., science, engineering, business...) it can inform the work you do in philosophy (e.g., the philosophy of science, business ethics, etc.)

As for the general process of research, there's a lot of variability here depending on the individual, his or her prior background in a particular area of philosophy, his or her connectedness to others in the guild, and so forth.  That said, one common way of doing research is to pick a question or topic that really interests you and start reading up on it.  At some point, you may be struck with a particular idea or the germ of an argument that needs development.  At that point, your next step would be to develop the idea or argument, preferably with the help of competent philosophers in whatever area you're writing about. If you don't know any, presenting at a conference can help. Likewise, being part of a department (at first as an undergraduate, than as a graduate student) helps get you into contact with folks that can give you feedback. If you do this enough, at some point you may have an idea (and an essay) worth shopping around for publication. At that point, and depending on the journal, you may get another layer of feedback on your work.  

Good luck!

2010-06-04
Undergraduate student wondering about the profession of a "philosopher"
Reply to Bob Mckinely
The only professional exit for a graduate of philosophy is to get a job at the department of Philosophy of an University, but those jobs are scarce, very looked after and reserved to the very best students with the best curriculum ( also known as "the philosophical figures").

It means that for the 80 per cent of the graduates in philosophy, they should find other kind of job,   by studying some Master such Human Resources or by whatever job that comes along, even cleaning dishes at a MacDonalds.

Philosophy is a kind of studies that is followed by love to it and not to earn money with it or to make a living by it.

Unfortunately, those that teach Philosophy at the University and that earn money for it are not always the kind of philosophers Philosophy needs to advance,
as they are too often more worried in their personal  academic career, the power of their position, the social prestige of it and the vanity of imposing to its students and readers their own interpretation of the classical philosophers   ( as they are in love with themselves and their way of thinking).

Philosophers that work as  professional philosophers love too much fame and success , the most read or important philosophers of the time.

But nothing of this has  to do with Philosophy, as they are too often workers for the State that pays them, as Schopenhauer wrote in his booklet on Philosophy at the University (Hegel was at his time the sample of this kind of philosopher of State).  

Philosophy doesn´t depend on the philosophers on fashion at the University but on those that bring new ideas and new solutions to the everlasting Philosophical problems, or in other words, those that serve Truth .   And professional philosophers ( those that earn money, as the sofists of Ancient Greece, for teaching philosophy) not always serve Philosophy.

2010-08-13
Undergraduate student wondering about the profession of a "philosopher"
Reply to Bob Mckinely

Mr. Mckinely – I read your question with interest, as it mirrors questions of my own. As background, I am 52 years old, have been in business since graduating with a BS in Chemistry. But I was bitten by the Philosophy bug during my undergraduate work, and I was never cured. The “dear delight” indeed.

As I have aged, I have left and returned to philosophical study, moving in and out of it as my interests and inclinations changed. But it never left me. If nothing else, the critical thinking and communications skills I learned have certainly been helpful. It is tragic how many people I meet who have done well in business yet have difficulty putting together a coherent sentence.

I have spent far more money on books than was good for my wallet. I have taken various courses, writing papers, putting everything I could spare into it. I have talked with as many people as I could find who would speak with me about deep an complicated subjects. And this has has enriched my life beyond measure.

So my advice to you is a takeoff on what the previous reply from Dr. Morata says. Borrowing a phrase from my wife, Philosophy is not what you do, it is who you are. Find another way. Find a way to satisfy your interests while making a living and raising a family, if that is your path. Based on the previous replies, you have to assume you will not get an academic position. So find a way to leverage your interest and expertise, that will help to satisfy your hunger for knowledge and truth, other than an academic position. I looked up your profile. Based on your areas of interest, I assume you have some expertise with computers. You can certainly find a position with that background, there is a crying need for programmers, designers, etc. Or, study law. The critical thinking skills you have learned would be invaluable in this area. Or pursue a teaching career, and try to teach at the high school or community or junior college level and start a philosophy club. But always assume there is an answer, and just keep looking for it. Good luck.


2011-05-09
Undergraduate student wondering about the profession of a "philosopher"
Reply to Bob Mckinely
Bob,
As an American working in Philosophy in Europe (Germany, to be exact), I think the atmosphere over here is somewhat different, as far as jobs and research go. Of course, it doesn't matter where you are today - it is difficult to find/get academic jobs in the Humanities. A big part of getting a position anywhere is having the right connections. I don't mean that if you don't go to a highly-ranked grad school that you don't have a chance. I mean that you need to take every opportunity to attend conferences, submit and give papers, and even try to publish as a grad student. Conferences are a great way to meet others in the field and to show what you can do. It also prepares you for the job market by giving you public speaking experience and lines on your CV. Most everyone I've talked to lately in the profession has noted how important it is to "get your foot in the door" as a grad student. The more people you know, the better off you are. 

As far as research goes, this is one way in which I think Europe might differ somewhat from the States. In Germany, for example, there is a much heavier emphasis on interdisciplinary research, so lots of philosophers are involved in establishing or collaborating with "work groups" where the members come from various disciplines, and there is lots of funding for such programs. One can also apply for individual research grants that last up to 5 years, though one must write a very detailed grant proposal, just like in the natural sciences (description of project, detailed plan of research, CV, rec letters, etc.). (Such work groups and grants are also available in the U.S. - you just have to know where to look.)

If you love philosophy, I encourage you to continue to study it, but don't be overoptimistic and think that you will automatically have a job at the end. Keep other options open and try to network as much as you can.

Good luck,
Amber  

2011-05-09
Undergraduate student wondering about the profession of a "philosopher"
Reply to Bob Mckinely
No, I am not a Doctor, just one more graduate in Philosophy among thousands.

There is a gap between the Philosophy done at the Universities and the real needs of the people.

The philosophers at the Univ. tend to fly to the clouds on never ending discussions on Neopositivism issues, not related with the  every day problems.

 Nobody reads the papers and books written by the philosophers with a position at the Univ. ( but they are the only ones considered by the politicians and the journalists when needing some advice ) and  only a few other philosophers read them.

 . Most of the books written by the philosophers of the Univ. are useless and lead to nowhere except to fill and engross their curriculum .

 The public, the politicians and the journalists know nothing on Philosophy and read nothing, they only accept what the philosopher on charge at the Univ. says they must accept as the "state of the art" on Philosophy at  each given decade.

They assume that the philosophers of the Univ. are those that know what is right and on fashion on Philosophy and that  their word is holy . But they don't read the books and papers of the philosophers of the UNiv.

Because this, the philosophers at the Univ. find agreable and  love this situation in which they feel a lot of power as the public obeys them and what they say on issues such Ethics and the current state of the  Science.

Being so that the Departments of Philosophy at the Univ. tend to be populated by a kind of philosophers that don' t want to help people or improve this time .

 They only think on being powerful  with a lot of influence on society. This is the main reason why they spend their lives as philosophers at the Univ.. They love fame and look after  their  success as the most important philosophers of the time.

I know one one this kind. He writes a lot of books on Ethics, loves to appear at the Tv shows dealing with euthanasia, allows to be used by the politicians, controls what publish people on this field, grafts students that follow his school as associate professors of the Dep. of Philosophy which he controls too,
 does what pleases him in that Dep. without asking nobody,  receives prizes and sells thousands of books  saying nothing but the public respect him because they consider that "he must know a lot on this subjects".

A fake.

The position of professor of Philosophy at the Dep. of Philosophy of the Univ. is not for real philosophers but for people with a big ambition to raise a career at the Univ. , to become famous and to  impose their way of thinking.

 No matter if their works are a loss of time.They never will help people not our current problems because they only think on their personal career and their success as philosophers.

This is the tragedy of our time : philosophers are a bunch of useless people and don't do the job they should do : to improve this epoch, our current democracies, our current ethical problems.

It is impossible to find real philosophy at the Univ. as the philosophers there only live to make a career at the Univ.