Maarten Maartensz:    Philosophical Dictionary | Filosofisch Woordenboek                      

 P - Philosophy - Academic


Academic philosophy: Philosophy as done in universities.

Philosophy is a serious academic study in universities since 200 years at least, and consequently has acquired in style, language and presentation many of the common academic features, such as pedantry, jargon, dryness, bad style, pretentiousness, networking (one refers to all one's academic friends and all academics that may promote one or help one get tenure or a position, and one generally flatters and praises whomever may help one's career), and the concentration in publications on problems that are only seriously discussed and considered in a very small academic circle, even though the members of that small circle tend to pretend and speak as if they are the (academic) world, and their academic problems are in the centre of concerns of all intelligent persons.

Some of these features are unavoidable for an academic study and for academic publications, but they also tend to color or taint books and papers addressed to the general public.

Next, it should be mentioned that the common run of academic philosophers are not so much philosophers as academics: Persons with a somewhat higher than average intelligence who have found a field of academic study they can receive status and income with, but who are less interested in the disinterested study of reality or in the improvement of society or mankind than in their own careers and personal well-being, and in the improvement of themselves in society.

It should also be mentioned that as a rule academic philosophers - with some exceptions - are not taken very serious by real scientists, such as physicists and mathematicians, and often with good reasons, because academic philosophers often chose their academic careers - unlike many serious classical philosophers - because they did not excel in science or mathematics.

In any case, whomever desires to study philosophy in a university is very well advised to study at least one real science also, such as physics, mathematics, biology or medicine, and to graduate in this as well. Indeed, if it so happens that you are that rare sort of person destined to become a Great Philosopher, this should not be difficult for you - and conversely, if you find this difficult, perhaps it were much better if you don't study philosophy, or regard it as a hobby, for philosophy without serious knowledge of science is far more lame and less credible than science without serious knowledge of philosophy. 

Also, a considerable part of academic philosophy is fraudulent in the sense that the philosophies taught and maintained are mostly dishonest, and are ideologies or means to get status rather than serious and honest attempts to understand what reality and human beings are like. Since philosophy is not an experimental science, this is also quite easy in principle. (See: Postmodernism.)

The plus side of academic philosophy is that it enables a few gifted individuals to do work of value that otherwise could not have been done, or would have been much more difficult.


See also:


Bloom, Boetie,
Maartensz, Ortega, Orwell, Sokal, White,

 Original: Aug 24, 2004                                                Last edited: 12 December 2011.   Top