What Is It Like To Be A Philosopher?

What Is It Like To Be A Philosopher? is the new project of Clifford Sosis (Coastal Carolina). What’s it all about? He says:

I decided to start What Is It Like To Be A Philosopher? because one of the things I like most about conferences, and hanging out with philosophers generally, is learning about the people who do philosophy. How we are similar. How we are different. I’m interested in what philosophers were interested in before they got into philosophy, if anything. I want to know what their parents did, whether they were philosophical kids, what they were up to as undergrads, and what teachers or books or movies inspired them. Did they had second thoughts about grad school? Did they think about doing something else? What did their parents think about the decision to go into philosophy? How did they decide on a dissertation topic? What was writing the dissertation like? Was the job market good? How does a career in philosophy affect a philosopher’s personal life? What are philosophers interested in besides philosophy? What’s the ultimate goal of philosophy (if any)?  What personal experiences do we bring to the table when we do philosophy? How does philosophy change the philosopher? You know, the stuff it would be weird to ask during the Q and A period after a presentation or strange to bring up when everybody’s talking shop after a colloquium. I want to dig a little deeper into the psychology of philosophers.

The first interview is with Berit Brogaard (Miami), with several more already in the queue.

Note this: “If you want to share your story, have a suggestion, or have a question for an interview in progress feel free to send me an e-mail or a tweet.”

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Minh Nguyen
Minh Nguyen
9 years ago

Wonderful stuff! Thank you very much, Prof. Sosis.

Fritz McDonald
9 years ago

What Brit says here lines up with what I have heard when I talk with my female philosopher friends:

“I have encountered discrimination throughout my career. It never stops. Although psychology is way ahead of philosophy, cognitive neuroscience is not. My only advantage (at least when I was junior) is that both my real name “Berit” and my nick name “Brit” are male-sounding. There is lots of discrimination in philosophy. I can only imagine how bad it must be for other minority groups. But as a woman I’ve had to deal with a lot: Male professors looking at and talking exclusively to your male philosophy partner or friend while you are standing next to them being completely ignored, or if their eyes rest on your for a few seconds, it’s a “neck-down” type of glance. Literally being used on short-lists simply to avoid any potential equal-opportunity or affirmative action issues during job searches. Annual conference invitations or agreements to co-author stopping after having been put in the uncomfortable position of having to accept a romantic liaison or reject (with both choices having just about the same career-damaging result). Male professors sending me short stories about my breasts (named in the stories). This is literally disgusting. But this is what you have to deal with as a woman in philosophy. You’d better be thick-skinned if you choose this profession because I doubt it will end any time soon. I think the only way to deal with these issues is to move in the direction of psychology as a whole. Hire more women in philosophy. Make philosophy departments about 50-50, or better yet: more women than men. I have heard people argue that if there are more women than men in philosophy departments, our pay will go down. I highly doubt that’d be the case. Surely people in psychology are not paid less than people in philosophy on average.”

Regarding the horror stories here: we have to be able to do better than that as a profession.