It has been a long time in the blog-world, but I am back after an unintentional blogging hiatus. Not only am I back, but I am answering your questions.
Over the next few days I will be posting answer blogs. I am intending to group these questions by theme. I heartily welcome discussion to these answers, especially in circumstances where my answer to a question is to open the floor to philosophers/non-philosophers (obviously, there are many times when you have much more wisdom or insight than me).
So, let’s proceed with our first batch of questions.
How would a friend/spouse/family member best broach the subject of jobs and money? Some philosophers complete their schooling and are content to spend their days reading, writing, researching, and working on projects without actually being employed or actively searching for a job. This may seem fine for a while but after several years, you would think survival mode would kick in and they would make finding a job a priority. Curiously, this is not the case with my philosopher. I've tried unsucessfully (and sucessfully) to talk to him about it. While he agrees that it is time to get a job, he still hasn't actually looked or applied for one. Is this a common problem among the philosopher community? How might I inspire him to start working?
Several things could be at work here.
1. Philosophers have a hard time transitioning back to the “real world” after they’ve been submerged in philosophy for a while. They got into philosophy because, as you mentioned, they are so happy when they are “reading, writing, researching, and working on projects.” The fact that they may have to enter a realm where people are not interested in these same pursuits is depressing and overwhelming.
2. Your philosopher might not be looking for an academic philosophy job for the terrible (but all too real) reason that there are so few jobs available in philosophy. Perhaps your philosopher looked around a bit but returned dissatisfied and with the resolution to wait it out for a bit. Job prospects (the ideal, tenure-track kind) for philosophers are very slim.
3. It might be a good idea to ask your philosopher if you can discuss the reasons behind why he is so reluctant to look for a job. Perhaps your philosopher is too overwhelmed with the kinds of “real world” jobs on the market and needs some direction. Perhaps they are just hunkering down and waiting for someone they know in the field to recommend them for an interview. Perhaps your philosopher is just really depressed at his prospects.
I would recommend encouraging your philosopher to start applying for some jobs, with the promise that you will back them up if they want to enroll in additional philosophy courses on the side and if you remind them that entering the non-philosophy world is not the end of their philosophy dreams. They can still attend lectures, classes and conferences. Perhaps your philosopher thinks that committing to a normal job means the end of their philosophical study. Assure them that this is not the end! If your philosopher would like to get back into the academic philosophy world, encourage them to work hard on some of the projects they used to work on or are interested in working on.
How do Philosophers "rest their brains"? i.e. they spend so much time thinking... so how do they stop and relax for a bit?
The philosophers I’ve met have a wide array of different hobbies and interests outside of philosophy, just like you and me. Here are a few of the most common ways that philosophers rest their brains:
1. Video games: This is not a gender-biased observation, as I know many male and female philosophers who ‘game. Video games give philosophers a chance to do something with a different part of their minds.
2. Socialize: Philosophers love to get together for dinner, parties, and drinking. While they will often get together with other philosophers, they tend to either talk about “fun” philosophy things or normal-person things.
3. Attend concerts: If you live in a city with a decent local music scene, you will find many philosophers in attendance at such events.
4. Drink: Whatever their brew, philosophers enjoy drinking (coffee, tea, alcohol, etc). While they use these stimulants to work, they also use them to relax.
5. Read books: My philosopher always has 5-10 non-philosophy books that he is reading at one time—even during the busiest seasons. Philosophers love knowledge, and reading is an easy way to gain more knowledge.
Philosophers and pets: If we are mostly incapable of feeding ourselves (clearly a spot-on observation), how is it that we all seem to live with cats?
Ah, yes, the cat question. Pets, especially cats, are very persistent creatures when it comes to things like eating and needing the litterbox cleaned (or needing to go outside). I don’t ever have to tell my cat, “Hey, aren’t you getting hungry?” My cat has made it his personal duty to remind me every time I walk by his food bowl that it is dinner time.
I can see pets adjusting to philosophers and their absent-mindedness extremely well, actually. If a philosopher does not remember the last time that they fed the cat and the cat acts hungry, then they will probably feed the cat, which the cat will quickly figure out and use to her/his advantage (resulting in a very fat, but happy, feline).
Philosophers may not notice their own bodily sensations of hunger, but they will notice a pet that trips them or yowls mournfully near a food bowl or at a door (and if you don’t clean out the litterbox, then a cat will make it very clear to you that it is well past time to do so).
Philosophers, anything to add?
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