Our books

Become a Fan

« Crowdsourcing job ads thread | Main | Stories of 'wins' after adversity? »



Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


I sympathize with the worry. And it is not, I think, dependent on the kind of institutions one works in. And as the worry is a general one, I expect that the answers must be too.


At my institution some administrative roles (chair for example) are tied to being on the tenure track. Others are not. I was able to move into a director role from being a non-TT senior lecturer. I mainly did it for the increase in pay and also the interest ing projects and initiatives that I oversea. I felt like I had hit the end of my former career trajectory and had more to offer and learn. I had positions in international education (Peace Corps Volunteer and Fulbright Scholar), government, and nonprofits that made me a strong candidate for the director role. It's worth looking into those kinds of positions if you feel like you are not being fulfilled with just teaching and research. For what it's worth, I still teach and am able to research--at least as much as when I was teaching a 5/5 load with summer courses!


I think there is actually some wisdom in the OP's post. After all, the OP has been able to land a job doing what he/she wants to do, and feels fulfilled at this job. Why is this not sufficient? Perhaps ambition and "success" in the academic rat race are overrated. How many of us are going to be the next Kant or Aristotle anyway?


I think this stems from philosophers' weird assumption that philosophy is some vocational calling—a gift from above for those lucky enough to be worthy. It's not.........it's a job. Would a chef have these thoughts? A doctor? A plumber? A high school teacher? A lawyer? Virtually any other professional? Just chill out and enjoy life. Jeeze.


I disagree with the "nihilist" undertone of manny (for the lack of a better word). Many other professions can have a sense of vocational calling. (Chef? yes. Teacher? yes. Plumber? Maybe not.) To be successful and fulfilling is a universal yearning. But I am not saying that success or fulfillment is rigidly defined, or that one should have a sense of self-importance of the chosen few.

What is enjoying life? Having a calling is a form of living. What does living have to consist of? Hanging out from friends and family? Playing in a band? Lying in the beach sipping wine? Running marathons? Enjoy nature? I would like to know. Enjoying little things in life is a wise suggestion, but zombie-walking through one's profession in a denial of self-fulfillment seems like an overreaction. (I might be wrong or uncharitable. Just saying)


Mediocrity isn't failure. It isn't even unusual. In fact, the very meaning of 'mediocrity' implies that in any given field, the vast majority of people will be mediocre. That's why we call them mediocre.

It think this is a kind of epistemic bias: we usually only see the great names, the famous philosophers everybody knows and talks about, so we believe that all philosophers must be like that. And if we ourselves don't measure up, we think of us as failures. But these guys are the rare exceptions. Not being famous is the standard case. For every Kant, there are dozens of 18th century German philosophy professors which no one remembers or cares about today. So, if you're a mediocre philosoper, don't worry about it - virtually all of us are.

A Philosopher Who Doesn't Want to Be in Charge

One thing I want to say: Be very careful about going into admin, especially a position like Dean. Managing people is almost guaranteed to be stressful. My mom and my wife both worked in management in their respective fields, hated every second of it, took pay cuts not to be management any more, and swore never to manage people again. I also get the impression academics are especially hard people to manage, and they're incredibly hard to fire when they misbehave. I won't give details but I keep seeing my colleagues pick stupid fights with our dean for the pettiest imaginable reasons and I think "You couldn't pay me enough to do her job." Now granted there are a lot of admin jobs that aren't really management jobs and I think those would be worth looking at.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)

Subscribe to the Cocoon

Job-market reporting thread

Current Job-Market Discussion Thread

Philosophers in Industry Directory


Subscribe to the Cocoon