What People Don't Get About My Job: The Philosopher

By The Editors

"I love being a philosopher, even though it may sound pretentious."

I am a philosopher. (And yes, even I cringe because of the pretension this statement seems to contain.) It would be better if I were also a philosophy professor, because then I could say I teach. But I don't teach philosophy. Teaching is only part of what a philosopher does. Research, which consists mainly of reading books and writing books, is also a small part of what I do. The bulk of what a philosopher does is think. I think about politics, art, society, culture, science, music, language, technology, teaching, ethics, literature, history, religion, and philosophy. And yes, I think about the meaning of life. But because I am a philosopher, I can't unquestioningly rely on the criteria from other fields as justification for either those fields themselves or for the value I find in them. Instead, I have to think about history, for example, without relying on historical methodology. I have to question the value of art without merely resorting to historical or aesthetic or theoretical justifications for that value. I love being a philosopher, even though it may sound pretentious. I wish there were more of us enamored with thinking.

We're asking readers to tell us what the public doesn't understand or appreciate about their jobs. Learn about the project here.

This article available online at: