So You Fancy Becoming a Famous Philosopher?

A philosopher, is not just a person who knows a great deal or loves to learn. Rather, the philosopher is one who engages actively in critical thought about big questions that have no obvious answers.

The philosopher’s life is not an easy one, but if you delight in exploring complex relationships and thinking deeply about important, but often vexing, topics, the study of philosophy might be your destiny, if there is any such thing.

Part 1: Preparing Your Mind

1. Question everything.

Philosophy requires one to rigorously and critically examine life and the world in its totality. To do this, one must be free of prejudice, ignorance, and dogma.

 

2. Read philosophy.

The more philosophy you can read, the better a philosopher you can become.

Read the classics. Some of the most enduring and powerful philosophical ideas in Western philosophy come from long-philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus,Hume, Descartes, and Kant, and today’s philosophers recommend familiarizing yourself with their important works.

In Eastern philosophy, the ideas of Lao-Tse, Confucius, and Buddha have been equally enduring, and deserve attention from any budding philosopher.

 

3. Think big.

Spend time thinking about the world, what it means to live, to die, to exist, and what the point of it is. These topics lead to big, unanswered, often unanswerable questions, questions only philosophers, young children, and other highly curious individuals have the imagination and courage to ask.

 

4. Engage in debate.

While developing your critical thinking, you should take part in any debate you can. This will increase your ability to think freely and critically. Indeed, many philosophers see the vigorous exchange of ideas as an important path toward truth.

Part 2: Practicing Philosophy

1. Develop an approach to investigation and practice it.

An important part of philosophy is the investigation and analysis of the world. Put differently, a central task of philosophy is finding ways do define and describe the fundamental structures and patterns of life, often by breaking them down into smaller component parts

2. Start writing down your ideas.

Write down what you think about the subjects of your inquiry, including ideas you think you shouldn’t write down (possibly because you think others may think they are stupid). While you may not be arriving at any striking conclusions, you will be exposing your own assumptions to yourself. You will probably marvel at how silly some of your assumptions can be, and in the process you will mature.

3. Develop a philosophy of life.

As you write, you should begin to develop your own philosophical perspective, arriving logical and well-considered ideas about life and the world. It is common for philosophers to adopt a perspective over time, especially about a specific issue.

4. Rewrite and get feedback.

Through several drafts, you should organize your ideas more formally and let others read your work. You can ask friends, relatives, teachers, or classmates to offer some thoughts on your work, or you can post your writings online (through a website, a blog, or a message board) and look for responses there.

Part 3: Becoming a Professional

1. Get an advanced degree.

To successfully pursue philosophy as a career, you must acquire a doctorate or, at very least, a master’s degree.

2. Publish your ideas.

Even before you have completed your graduate studies, you should begin the work of trying to publish your philosophical insights.

3. Learn to teach.

Many of history’s greatest philosophers have been teachers. Beyond this, any university that might want to hire you to study philosophy professionally will also expect you to teach other budding philosophers.

4. Get a job.

After you’ve completed your graduate studies, start looking for a job as a philosophy professor. This process is arguably even more competitive than applying for graduate schools. Be prepared for many rejections before you finally succeed.