Building A Better “Which Philosopher Are You Most Similar To?” Quiz


There are various silly little quizzes across the internet claiming to be able to tell you which famous philosopher you most agree with, but as far as I know, philosophy does not have something like Chris Said’s “Which Famous Economist Are You Most Similar To?

[Paul Klee, “Variations (Progressive Motif)”]

Said’s site asks each visitor 24 questions, presents their resultant view as one dot on a graph populated with other dots representing the views of well-known economists, and tells you which famous economist your own view is closest to. The underlying data about economists’ views is pulled from a survey of “an ideologically diverse set of economists.” (For those curious, the code for the site is on GitHub.)

Is a similar project possible in philosophy? It does seem like we have the technology and wherewithal for this kind of thing (e.g.). One might wonder about combining philosophers’ views about different subjects so they can be represented in a tractable way, but that doesn’t seem an insuperable obstacle. (Perhaps the weighting of individual topics could be something a user of the site could adjust based on what is most important to them.)

What reasons would there be to create it? It might be a possible entry point for non-philosophers to engage with philosophy; being clued into who among today’s philosophers apparently share your views might pique your interest enough to explore their works. It might serve as a research tool for students. It might serve as discipline-wide expertise database for media outlets looking for people with certain views. It might provide us with information about the state of philosophy or the sociology of the discipline that anonymized survey data does not.

For the project to fulfill some of these functions, it would need to feature questions that are more accessible to non-experts than the questions on the PhilPapers surveys. What questions should it ask?

Your suggestions and thoughts welcome.

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Travis
Travis
1 month ago

I like this idea in principle. It sounds fun!

But I worry that there’s disagreement about what major philosophical figures think.Report

Bill d
Bill d
Reply to  Travis
1 month ago

Maybe it could focus on areas of interest, rather than their conclusions?Report

Dave
Dave
1 month ago

Great idea, looking forward to seeing if it can be based on something substantive vs verbal disagreements. Anything that could help fix philosophical beliefs to some kind of anchoring framework I would sincerely welcome.Report

Andrew Stadtmauer
1 month ago

It would be a very interesting tool. Allowing users to see where they lie at a given time such as at entry to uni and then track changes over time.

To me it would be best as a nested series of quizes.

Quiz 1 could place your views into one of the major schools of thought or philosophical traditions.

Quiz 2 could be tailored based on your answers to quiz 1 to to delve deeper into the particular tradition you were aligned with.

Quiz 3 could go deeper again and so on.

The advantages would be that the development could be incrimental with each quiz developed separately and that each quiz could be short as it only dealt with a more limited series of questions.

Interested in my work? Check out http://www.andrew-stadtmauer.comReport

Last edited 1 month ago by Andrew Stadtmauer
Warren Milne
Warren Milne
1 month ago

I think philosophers have philosophies that reflect their personalities and their sexualities… so a simple personality test might be enough… eg epicureans are pleasure loving….Report

djc
djc
1 month ago

this is already a feature on philpapers, minus the “famous” part. if you’ve taken the old philpapers survey, you can go to your philpeople profile and click “my philosophical views” and “people with similar views”. there seem to be some bugs in the current results, possibly due to crosstalk from the 2020 philpapers survey.Report

Greg Robel
Greg Robel
1 month ago

I already know the answer! Kierkegaard and Kripke! 😉Report

Goran-Edgar Bojovic
Goran-Edgar Bojovic
Reply to  Greg Robel
1 month ago

Way to go, Greg! If you are most similar to Saul Kripke – in addition to also being similar to Søren Kierkegaard – do you think there are noteworthy, stark and irrefutable exceptions to professor Kripke’s truthfulness-aspiring theory of naming with regard to apodictic validity of rigid designators the way Kripke demonstrated in “Naming and Necessity”? Thank you in advance for answering.Report

Devin
Devin
1 month ago

Seems like an obvious option would be to use the Philpapers survey & data, with the questions rephrased in a way that’s comprehensible to laypeople. Probably would only be good for matching you with contemporary philosophers, although that could be good for outreach too!Report

John Schwenkler
John Schwenkler
Reply to  Devin
1 month ago

My former student Nick Byrd has rephrased these questions for the purposes of some studies he did on the philosophical beliefs of non-philosophers. Someone should reach out to him for the list: see byrdnick.com.Report

A Disciple
A Disciple
1 month ago

Please put David Pearce on the list.Report

Louis F. Cooper
1 month ago

Just took a quick look at the “which famous economist are you most similar to?” site. Some of the names don’t mean much to me. Who is Christopher Udry, for instance? The name sounds kind of familiar but without looking him up, I don’t know. Ditto for Darrell Duffie. The name of Marianne Bertrand rings a definite bell, but beyond that I couldn’t say much of anything about her. Angus Deaton, on the other hand, I do know a bit about. Ditto Emmanuel Saez.

If I don’t recognize and/or know anything about, say, 40 percent of the names or more, why should I care particularly which “famous” economist my views are most similar to? A comparable site for contemporary philosophers, many of whom might be well-known within the philosophy profession but not outside it, would likely prompt the same question.

P.s. That’s not to say this isn’t worth doing. Just a note of caution, I suppose.Report

Last edited 1 month ago by Louis F. Cooper
Ed Chassaing
Ed Chassaing
1 month ago

I like this project – not sure where it will land, but then, that’s kind of the same with Epistemology, isn’t it?Report

Joshua J Tilley
1 month ago

I did my thesis on authenticity and leadership with a focus on existentialists. The opinions varied but I was able to hone the discussion by choosing a single topic (ex: free will vs determinism vs compatibilism). You could break thinkers down in this way and situate people based upon their answers to a particular topic. I think this would be a good start and, as you expand your topics, you could simply create a larger “which philosopher are you like” questionnaire.

I’d be happy to help.Report

Last edited 1 month ago by Joshua J Tilley
randi rivera
randi rivera
Reply to  Joshua J Tilley
1 month ago

I am most similar to Bertrand Russell…and am always mesmerized by Ludwig WittgensteinReport

Samuel Babajee
Samuel Babajee
1 month ago

Hi! And thank you for the post. I was searching for a tool like that
I recommend you to rephrase the question. They use factorial analysis and its just a lot of work statistically. They also isolate the determinant factors; externalism naturalism rationalism and I dont remember the last one it is written

To overcome the hard question of deciding how to type philosophers on these spectrums it s pretty simple: you ask people based on their answers what philosopher they like. Or you ask them to type them. With the Law of large number, with a lot of vote, it would be accurateReport

Genia Cherkasova
26 days ago

A few years ago I created a simple interactive fiction game for intro students. It determines the player’s affinities with various schools of thought — Aristotelians, Stoics, Epicureans, Taoists, Existentialists, Buddhists, Humanists, etc. You can play online: http://meaningoflife.cherkasova.org/vixi-a-masters-way/
The questions are designed for a teenager/ young adult and test the player’s “real life attitudes.” Behind the scenes these attitudes are evaluated and the player is given points (positive or negative) from each school. Players also receive messages from philosophers along the way; by the end of the game they have a whole collection of quotes from sages. Students play the game in the beginning of the semester and become curious about the results they get. Then they learn about different philosophical schools during the semester and play again at the end. It’s been a great pedagogical tool. The game has its obvious limitations but it works as a fun intro. For example, many students play “as I am now” and then again “as the kind of person I want to be” which leads to interesting discussions about the principles that guide their lives in relation to the key principles of each philosophical school we study. I had ideas about further game development but ran out of time, money, and creative energy… Vixi: A Master’s Way is free and available to all.Report