I am going to study philosophy this September at university. I am very much confused between an 'actual philosopher' and a 'philosophy professor'.
I believe my confusion lies at my ignorance and lack of knowledge but please help me to see correctly. Would you agree that one can become a philosophy professor without becoming an actual philosopher? Do you think if Plato or Aristotle were born today, would they have enrolled in philosophy programs, get a master's degree, worry about publishing and afraid of not getting a tenure?
The more I read about the profession of philosophy today, the less I am inclined to pursue it. But I don't want to abandon philosophy out of my life. I want to do philosophy for the rest of my life, but not as a professor.
To be honest, when you step inside a philosophy department how many real philosophers do you see? I have been to my university's department, talked with philosophy grad students and felt that they do not care geniuinly about philosophy really.
Please help me...
I sense a lot of admirable idealism behind your question. Yes, there is a conceptual difference between being an 'actual philosopher' and a 'philosophy professor', but fortunately there is still a lot of overlap between the two concepts. It is definitely possible to teach philosophy without being serious about advancing philosophical thought or living out a coherent thoughtful philosophy. More often, I think those whom you don't view as 'actual philosophers' started off more idealistically, but were discouraged either by the challenges of the 'philosophy profession' or by the skepticism they embraced as they developed philosophically. Not all philosophy departments are like your own. Some are populated with many professors that have successfully navigated the demands of the profession while maintaining a seriousness about philosophy and about service to their students. You should visit some other departments before embracing complete cynicism about the profession. And your final point is correct......
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