“A Real Philosopher”

Posted: November 18, 2010 by Jender in Uncategorized

Once upon a time, that is to say, in the past year, a prospective undergraduate student came to visit a department to ask about their philosophy program. He wanted to meet with a professor, and so he met with me. During the brief meeting, he praised the high school teacher who had introduced him to philosophy as a “real philosopher.”

Oh?, I say.

Yes, he says, you know, old guy, with a beard, tweed coat.

I have no doubt that the young man meant nothing much by it, but it belied an unfortunately common belief about what a philosopher should be, a belief so persistent that somehow it popped even while in the middle of a conversation with a thirty-something, female philosophy professor.

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