Thursday, July 13, 2006

Philosophy: the unbearable profession.

Bitchy, bitchy. Leiter Reports featured a couple of posts today about how philosophers don't get no respect. First is here, about whether the greatest philosophers could've won awards for their research. I'm sure Stanley's messing around (mostly), but it raises a somewhat interesting point. The second post linked to this, which shows, again, that very few philosophers are being financially supported for their research.

Given the old joke about philosophers not needing any money (to the effect that everyone needs lots of money for equipment and supplies except the mathematicians, who only need pencils and erasers, and the philosophers, who don't even need erasers; my rejoinder has always been that this is because philosophers get it right the first time), I'm not sure this is necessarily a bad thing. Besides, Kant, Descrates, et al. would've written what they did regardless of the money involved: it wasn't about the money, but about the need to solve the problems. I do take the point, though, that in the contemporary academy, philosophers tend to get screwed when it comes to the big cash prizes. Maybe we need to start our own?

Perhaps more than any other discipline, philosophers have a nasty habit of hiding in their academic warrens. It strikes me that we could draw more money our way if more people knew what kind of research we were doing. I mean, hell, sociology gets money and most of that "research" is crap. But, that's because people think they know something about what sociologists do. Who really knows what a philosopher does except other philosophers?

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