Why I Chose to Give Up on Academia
Mike Sturm
303

I applaud your ultimate decision though at the same time I am saddened by the circumstances that led to it. As an amateur philosopher (self labeled) with a Ph.D. in the natural sciences I am constantly and continually amazed at the brilliance of professional philosophers. Many times I have thought back with regret at my decision to pursue a graduate degree in science rather than philosophy. Of course I console myself with the reality of my situation. An intellectually satisfying job with a decent paycheck. A job market with many other opportunities if I ever feel the desire for change. I recognize that a Ph.D. in philosophy would more than likely not have resulted in this outcome. Yet I still feel pangs of regret sometimes. I continue to read and write extensively on philosophical topics. I have published many works on this very site. Yet I realize they will never be taken seriously by the academy. Exactly what it means to be a philosopher and practice philosophy is itself an active and highly contentious area of philosophical discourse. But no matter how many pieces I read that suggest philosophy is a mind-set, or anyone can be a philosopher, I still view the non full time, non Ph.D., non academic philosopher as only a dabbler in true philosophy. I can offer you some words of consolation. It is possible to think deeply about topics of philosophical interest and to read and write about them without the degree. It might even be possible to make real contributions to the thinking surrounding said topics. Unfortunately, at least for me, these contributions will mostly or exclusively come at the margins. They will probably only ever be seen or appreciated by a precious few.

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