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06/01/2019

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Amanda

Cool story - I am glad you managed to get out of the very unhealthy aspects of professional philosophy culture. I am hesitant to say that success and failure, in nearly anything in life, is because we deserve it. Seems like more of a spectrum where some things are more in our control than others, but most things we admittedly have at least some control over, even if indirect. And it is sure a lot healthier strategy to focus on the extent that we can control things to the extent that we can't. So perhaps your attitude is what we should all be aiming for.

Amanda

I have also done some research on different cultural beliefs, and I am always struck one of the most significant differences between US and European culture: At a much, much, higher rate, Americans believe the things that happen to them in life are of their own making. I don't want to get into whether this is overall a good or bad thing - there are pluses and minuses on both sides. But I think it contributes to the greater "catastrophizing" amongst US job marketers: we are raised to believe most things are, and everything out to be, within the scope of our efforts. And when this doesn't play out on the job market it is very hard to handle. I find it interesting the way you seem to have taken this attitude and made it in to a positive thing about philosophy and employment. (I also suspect you are not from the US, correct? That is interesting in itself...)

elisa freschi

Hi Amanda, thanks for the suggestion. Out of my experience, I would agree with you about the US rhetorics concerning one's ability to change one's destiny and perhaps this might be part of the reasons of one's disillusion. I wonder whether another part might be the professionalisation of philosophy which makes one think that in order to be a philosopher one needs to be paid to be one in an academic institution. What do you think?

Amanda

Hi Elisa - yes, I definitely think that the cultural norm within the US (is it only the US?) that one cannot be a "real" philosopher unless you are employed by a university (or even worse, a TT position in a philosophy department at a university) is a major reason why so few PhDs seriously look into alt-ac employment, and why people feel taking that option is failing, why people stay in high workload, low-paying positions for so long, etc.

The above is, to some degree, connected to the achieve anything belief: because one wants to be a "real" philosopher, and because only academics are real philosophers, PhDs want this and many naively believe that if they work hard enough they can achieve it. When this doesn't happen everything falls apart...

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