philosophy meta-forum

Advice to those struggling on (or worried about) the job market: considering leaving philosophy

Olav

8 day(s) ago

I completed my PhD in philosophy in the last ten years. I went to a good school. I didn't go on the market after defending. I moved home to be near my friends and family. I managed to find a career that I find meaningful and generally enjoyable. I make about 100k and I work humane hours with nice people. I enjoy my life. It's not perfect, but it's wonderful and it gets better every year. I'm incredibly thankful and feel very lucky (because, after all, a lot of this is totally unearned good fortune).

As I was preparing to defend my dissertation and leave the discipline, I got a huge amount of pushback from everyone in philosophy. My advisors told me that I would regret the decision. Some told me that I was being irrationally controlled by fear. Nearly all of my philosophy friends told me that I was making a huge mistake.

I'm thankful that I had such a supportive family, because they gave me the confidence to trust my own judgment, despite what my philosophical peers and mentors were telling me. Every spring since I defended, I've been reminded of just how right I was. I have watched legions of friends and former colleagues struggle and drown on the market, bouncing between post docs and term-limited positions with awful pay, all while questioning their self-worth. A minority of "lucky" former colleagues and friends have eventually wound up with 3-3 or 4-4 TT jobs with lousy pay and in (what many would see as) undesirable locations. Many (most?) of these people seem unhappy, even once they've won their TT position. A microscopic minority have wound up with prestigious positions of the sort that, 15 years ago, we all imagined we'd wind up with.

Of course, if someone truly loves philosophy and cannot find happiness in anything else, then it may make sense to abandon all other opportunities and focus uniformly on landing a permanent philosophy gig. But if my experiences with/of people are even mostly indicative, very few truly people fall into the "But I could never do something else!" camp. Instead, I think that generations of young philosophically minded people are being tricked by others (and themselves) into thinking that the only legitimate life option is to pursue professional philosophy at all costs. I think the outcome is an army of miserable, distressed, failing people, and probably a bunch of unnecessary and bad philosophy.

I love philosophy. In some small ways, I still do it every day. I don't regret going to grad school. But I am so, so, so, so, so happy that I got out when I did.

Olav

8 day(s) ago

Glad I messed up the title.

That should say "consider leaving philosophy" (not "considering").

Dorothy

8 day(s) ago

What do you do? Feel free to be somewhat vague if you're concerned about anonymity.

I have a TT job. It's ok. I think about leaving but I really like the breaks and I'm not sure what other stimulating work I could get hired to do to pay the bills.

Mikhail

8 day(s) ago

> Of course, if someone truly loves philosophy and cannot find happiness in anything else, then it may make sense to abandon all other opportunities and focus uniformly on landing a permanent philosophy gig.

I'm not necessarily accusing you of this, but is it really so common to equate "philosophy" with "academic philosophy"? I truly love philosophy, beyond any doubt, but I see less and less of it actually happening in philosophy departments. If people like Plato and Nietzsche were real philosophers, then almost no one in academia is one except in name. Hence, I don't see how it follows that if one truly loves philosophy one might be right to pursue a job in a philosophy department at all costs (or at all, for that matter). This would obviously follow if one truly loved *academic* philosophy, but in that case I would just have to question that person's character...

Aleksey

8 day(s) ago

> Of course, if someone truly loves philosophy and cannot find happiness in anything else, then it may make sense to abandon all other opportunities and focus uniformly on landing a permanent philosophy gig.

I'm not necessarily accusing you of this, but is it really so common to equate "philosophy" with "academic philosophy"? I truly love philosophy, beyond any doubt, but I see less and less of it actually happening in philosophy departments. If people like Plato and Nietzsche were real philosophers, then almost no one in academia is one except in name. Hence, I don't see how it follows that if one truly loves philosophy one might be right to pursue a job in a philosophy department at all costs (or at all, for that matter). This would obviously follow if one truly loved *academic* philosophy, but in that case I would just have to question that person's character...

Mikhail

Come here give my big fat white cock a good suck.

Franz

8 day(s) ago

So you left philosophy a decade ago but still visit this forum? Makes sense.

Olav

8 day(s) ago

Mikhail: I don't totally disagree. But my point here isn't to criticize academic philosophy or those who love it. So all I meant to allow is that some people might have a very hard time being made happy outside of a life in a philosophy department and, for those people, pursuing academic philosophy (despite the bumps and bruises) probably makes sense.

Franz: Yeah. Well, it was a big part of my life and it's still something I think about a lot, especially at this time of year. I also still have a lot of friends in the game.

Mikhail

8 day(s) ago

Come here give my big fat white cock a good suck.

Aleksey

Kill yourself, retard.

Olav: Yeah, I figured that was what you meant, but I do find it curious how many people seem to regard philosophy and academic philosophy as identical. This attitude may contribute to the "can't see myself doing anything else" mentality in a lot of cases, if people are encouraged to assume that a philosophical life can only be led in a philosophy department.

Sydney

8 day(s) ago

Come here give my big fat white cock a good suck.

Aleksey

Kill yourself, retard.

Olav: Yeah, I figured that was what you meant, but I do find it curious how many people seem to regard philosophy and academic philosophy as identical. This attitude may contribute to the "can't see myself doing anything else" mentality in a lot of cases, if people are encouraged to assume that a philosophical life can only be led in a philosophy department.

Mikhail

I know “identical” is probably hyperbole...but in my experience it’s very hard to stay engaged with the discipline, focused on writing, or even focused on reading in the field without the time, professional opportunities and incentives that come with being in a philosophy department.

I am the only philosopher on my campus, my teaching load is heavy, I’ve got tenure, and I’ve got kids. I do manage to do research but it’s slow going. Despite the fact that I love reading and writing philosophy (including the “boring” S knows that p kind of philosophy, I need to be immersed in it to maintain my edge. I suspect the same is true for many folks who leave academia altogether,

Uriel

8 day(s) ago

You got out at a good time.

Before the meme of SJWism reached defcon 6

Susan

8 day(s) ago

You got out at a good time.

Before the meme of SJWism reached defcon 6

Uriel

defcon 6 is...below the lowest level of threat (which is defcon 5)

Mikhail

8 day(s) ago

Sydney: You're totally right that real philosophy requires a lot of time, and it is true that teaching philosophy in a university can provide that time, especially if you've got a half decent position. That being said, when you talk about "staying engaged with the discipline," you lose me. I don't want to stay engaged with this discipline, because it actually cheapens the thing I love -- philosophy. It takes a lot of time and leisure to really read Kant or Schopenhauer, but that to me is real reading, rather than keeping up with the epicycles in the journals and so on. Obviously I'm not saying that nothing being published today has value, but in the areas I work in at least, it is pretty bad, and not worth wading through all the shit to find a few semi-precious stones. I'm a PhD student, by the way, and not really planning on staying in the discipline after I finish unless something good happens to fall in my lap, which is highly unlikely.

Jules

8 day(s) ago

Sydney: You're totally right that real philosophy requires a lot of time, and it is true that teaching philosophy in a university can provide that time, especially if you've got a half decent position. That being said, when you talk about "staying engaged with the discipline," you lose me. I don't want to stay engaged with this discipline, because it actually cheapens the thing I love -- philosophy. It takes a lot of time and leisure to really read Kant or Schopenhauer, but that to me is real reading, rather than keeping up with the epicycles in the journals and so on. Obviously I'm not saying that nothing being published today has value, but in the areas I work in at least, it is pretty bad, and not worth wading through all the shit to find a few semi-precious stones. I'm a PhD student, by the way, and not really planning on staying in the discipline after I finish unless something good happens to fall in my lap, which is highly unlikely.

Mikhail

If you are so content why do you feel the need the post on here? Why don't you go back to whatever shithole country you come from? Eat my mama's caca, haha! Yours, Tenured Prof at elite R1 institution

Alia

8 day(s) ago

I am writing a PhD. I ignore the job market. At this stage my plan is to just write my dissertation try and get published. If I get published in a good journal, influence the discourse and get recognition, then I'll worry about the job market.

Jules

8 day(s) ago

I am writing a PhD. I ignore the job market. At this stage my plan is to just write my dissertation try and get published. If I get published in a good journal, influence the discourse and get recognition, then I'll worry about the job market.

Alia

But you can never amount to anything bro. I'm an elite R1 professor, I can walk up to your girlfriend/wife, display my credentials, and fuck her right in front of you in holes you never even knew existed.

Shao

8 day(s) ago

You are an elite R1 moron who probably fucks at best an exhaust pipe on your neighbor's car...

I am writing a PhD. I ignore the job market. At this stage my plan is to just write my dissertation try and get published. If I get published in a good journal, influence the discourse and get recognition, then I'll worry about the job market.

Alia

But you can never amount to anything bro. I'm an elite R1 professor, I can walk up to your girlfriend/wife, display my credentials, and fuck her right in front of you in holes you never even knew existed.

Jules

Jules

8 day(s) ago

You are an elite R1 moron who probably fucks at best an exhaust pipe on your neighbor's car...

I am writing a PhD. I ignore the job market. At this stage my plan is to just write my dissertation try and get published. If I get published in a good journal, influence the discourse and get recognition, then I'll worry about the job market.

Alia

But you can never amount to anything bro. I'm an elite R1 professor, I can walk up to your girlfriend/wife, display my credentials, and fuck her right in front of you in holes you never even knew existed.

Jules

Shao

Could you explain your reasonining behind saying this?

Alia

8 day(s) ago

I am writing a PhD. I ignore the job market. At this stage my plan is to just write my dissertation try and get published. If I get published in a good journal, influence the discourse and get recognition, then I'll worry about the job market.

Alia

But you can never amount to anything bro. I'm an elite R1 professor, I can walk up to your girlfriend/wife, display my credentials, and fuck her right in front of you in holes you never even knew existed.

Jules

This is particularly hilarious as I am a woman with a male partner and children.

Jules

8 day(s) ago

I am writing a PhD. I ignore the job market. At this stage my plan is to just write my dissertation try and get published. If I get published in a good journal, influence the discourse and get recognition, then I'll worry about the job market.

Alia

But you can never amount to anything bro. I'm an elite R1 professor, I can walk up to your girlfriend/wife, display my credentials, and fuck her right in front of you in holes you never even knew existed.

Jules

This is particularly hilarious as I am a woman with a male partner and children.

Alia

In that case, you must be lusting after my thick white R1 cock. Wanna cheat on him with me? I can dominate you real good. I don't mind if your hubby and children watch.

Olav

7 day(s) ago

I had not read much of this forum before posting here. I thought this was a place I might be able to give some encouragement to early-career philosophy folks. Idiotically, I thought that the anonymity might allow people to talk more freely about their circumstances, fears, and so on. In my own case, it was very difficult to tell my peers and mentors that I was even considering leaving the field, so I thought it might be helpful if people could talk about it in a de-identified environment.

I am really confused by the juvenile responses. (Is "juvenile" even the right word? Maybe "deranged"?) Now, glancing around at the other threads, I see that this entire forum is broken. It's filled with vileness, self-loathing, hatred, bigotry. I don't get it. Why?

Indirectly, I think this whole forum reinforces my thinking. It suggests that there are a lot of scared, angry, sad, hurting people who don't realize they might be able to find meaning and happiness if they walked academic philosophy.

Colin

7 day(s) ago

I had not read much of this forum before posting here. I thought this was a place I might be able to give some encouragement to early-career philosophy folks. Idiotically, I thought that the anonymity might allow people to talk more freely about their circumstances, fears, and so on. In my own case, it was very difficult to tell my peers and mentors that I was even considering leaving the field, so I thought it might be helpful if people could talk about it in a de-identified environment.

I am really confused by the juvenile responses. (Is "juvenile" even the right word? Maybe "deranged"?) Now, glancing around at the other threads, I see that this entire forum is broken. It's filled with vileness, self-loathing, hatred, bigotry. I don't get it. Why?

Indirectly, I think this whole forum reinforces my thinking. It suggests that there are a lot of scared, angry, sad, hurting people who don't realize they might be able to find meaning and happiness if they walked academic philosophy.

Olav

Come here give these plump balls a vigorous suck. They aint gonna suck themselves.

Roy

7 day(s) ago

Olav, what kind of work do you do? I doubt I could find anything that pays even close to that salary and would happily leave if I could. Did you have a BA major besides philosophy?

Mikhail

7 day(s) ago

I had not read much of this forum before posting here. I thought this was a place I might be able to give some encouragement to early-career philosophy folks. Idiotically, I thought that the anonymity might allow people to talk more freely about their circumstances, fears, and so on. In my own case, it was very difficult to tell my peers and mentors that I was even considering leaving the field, so I thought it might be helpful if people could talk about it in a de-identified environment.

I am really confused by the juvenile responses. (Is "juvenile" even the right word? Maybe "deranged"?) Now, glancing around at the other threads, I see that this entire forum is broken. It's filled with vileness, self-loathing, hatred, bigotry. I don't get it. Why?

Indirectly, I think this whole forum reinforces my thinking. It suggests that there are a lot of scared, angry, sad, hurting people who don't realize they might be able to find meaning and happiness if they walked academic philosophy.

Olav

It's hard to say exactly what's going on. The board is obviously being trolled on an ongoing basis, but it's not clear whether it's just a few autistic "philosophers" enjoying the opportunity to piss in their colleagues' ears anonymously, or whether it's an effort to drive people away from the board to prevent the more fruitful discussions that sometimes go on here. Either way, it's best just to ignore these people, though recommending that they commit suicide is also an acceptable response on occasion (see above). Just try to contribute to the worthwhile discussions, since one way or another those are what they're trying to undermine.

Olav

7 day(s) ago

Roy: I don't want to get too into the specifics of my job. But it's *not* a job related to tech, development, coding, or anything like that. This isn't a case of a logician transferring into development or anything like that. Also, I didn't go back to school; my only graduate degrees are in philosophy. My undergraduate was in the humanities, too. I did a complete transition into a career that involves soft skills, working with people, and informal problem solving (as do most non-technical jobs).

I got lucky, and I'm not going to pretend that most other people would get as lucky. But I benefitted hugely from all of the obvious things people are advised to do when getting out of academia and changing careers. I found ways to make my background and training seem applicable to other settings. I positioned myself as someone who was *choosing* a new career (rather than being forced from philosophy). I emphasized a narrative that made sense of my going to grad school while still remaining connected to and interested in the real world. I networked with a lot of people, took a lot of 'informational' meetings, and sent out a ton of emails. I applied to tons of positions across a bunch of different domains.

Gary

7 day(s) ago

I had not read much of this forum before posting here. I thought this was a place I might be able to give some encouragement to early-career philosophy folks. Idiotically, I thought that the anonymity might allow people to talk more freely about their circumstances, fears, and so on. In my own case, it was very difficult to tell my peers and mentors that I was even considering leaving the field, so I thought it might be helpful if people could talk about it in a de-identified environment.

I am really confused by the juvenile responses. (Is "juvenile" even the right word? Maybe "deranged"?) Now, glancing around at the other threads, I see that this entire forum is broken. It's filled with vileness, self-loathing, hatred, bigotry. I don't get it. Why?

Indirectly, I think this whole forum reinforces my thinking. It suggests that there are a lot of scared, angry, sad, hurting people who don't realize they might be able to find meaning and happiness if they walked academic philosophy.

Olav

Come here give these plump balls a vigorous suck. They aint gonna suck themselves.

Colin

You fucking faggot. Go cry into a glass of hipster bourbon because you got aids in the rectum. You autistic soy faggot.

T'an

7 day(s) ago

So obvious that Gary is trying to poison the well. Typical Maoist tactics.

Meister

7 day(s) ago

Agreed, Mikhail. I've been following these boards for years, and there is a recognizable and persistent strain of trolling here which appears designed to discredit anonymous and uncensored forums. It's annoying, and it does drive away some of the well-intentioned and thoughtful posters who'd otherwise come, which is a damn shame.

Cratylus

6 day(s) ago

Fuck off, Gary, you crazy SJW.



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