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04/23/2021

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Douglas W. Portmore

I just want to second Marcus's excellent advice here: "the thing that I personally found the most helpful here was to try to focus on what I was doing--namely, teaching and writing--and trying to having fun: specifically, by exploring fun ideas in the classroom with students, writing papers on things that I was genuinely interested in, etc." The first year that I was on the market, I didn't get so much as a ballroom interview at the Eastern APA meeting. I applied to 80+ positions and had absolutely nothing but rejection letters to show for it. What saved me was focussing on the things that I did enjoy: teaching and researching. There's nothing better for one's motivation than either making some real progress on the paper that one's working on or engaging with students and having them share some of the passion that one has for the subject.

postduck

These are all really good suggestions, Marcus, and they really fit with my own experience over the past ~4 years. Being on the philosophy job market can be this all-consuming, demoralizing activity, but it's actually not the same activity as being a philosopher and doing philosophy, which is awesome and intrinsically rewarding.

One thing I'll add to your list is reading cool stuff - *actually* reading, not just adding files to your "to read" folder. Take some time to let some new, non-job-market ideas into your head, and spend some time turning those ideas over, regardless of how they relate to your immediate concerns about your career. Reading stuff with other people is good too, if you can set up a reading group.

unmotivated

I'm very much in the same situation as OP, and am similarly finding it hard to be motivated to continue publishing. The problem is not the doing of philosophy - that's the fun part. But the struggle comes in dealing with all the BS around sending things out, getting rejections, getting terrible reviewer comments, dealing with editors, etc. That's never been fun for anyone, and so focusing on the fun parts of writing isn't going to get you over that hurdle.

When I thought that I had any chance in hell of getting a job, the struggle was justifiable: publications make CVs look good, good CVs help get jobs, etc. But now: why bother? If another pub in a mid-tier journal (because good luck with the top-tiers) isn't going to make any difference, what is the point in publishing?

For me, something that's been motivating has been to write for different outlets. Academic journals are tedious and basically no one reads them, but writing for websites and magazines that publish philosophical work can be much more gratifying. Turn-around time is short, your audience will be much larger, and you might actually get paid for your labor (shocking, I know). I know the idea of writing public philosophy is looked down upon by some of the more snobbish in the discipline, but it is at least a change of pace, something that can allow you to do philosophy without all the nonsense.

Motivated

unmotivated
I think you are doing yourself no when you make remarks like "no one reads academic journals". This is misdirecting your anger. I had a hell of time on the market, so I know what you are going through. But stay honest. Many people read journal articles - see the comment just above yours. And many people read my articles - I am cited over 1500 times.

unmotivated

Motivated
Oh come on, I was obviously being hyperbolic for effect. Even so, the number of people who read an article in an academic journal - even those written by people like you who have been cited "over 1500 times" - pales in comparison to the number of people who read popular websites. The point is that if you're a junior scholar you're going to reach a much wider audience writing public philosophy than for academics, and that can be something that motivates you to write.

But maybe just take yourself a little less seriously before you reply.

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