I studied philosophy at undergrad, and it was a complete disaster! I was told at 10 I would have a phd in any subject I wanted, took and easily passed all the toughest SAT papers at high school, etc.. I then got to university and it looked like I would get a 3rd, until the last module...

Which made me wonder if there were anything peculiar required to study philosophy?

I was suffering psychosis at the time, and personally believe this didn't help anyway.

  • Here are some attributes: A delight in conflict Conformity Initiative Having substantive beliefs already Being willing and able to challenge these, and yourself Enjoying rigour for its own sake... – user6917 Jan 23 '15 at 2:18
  • Must be slow-minded. Philosophers think backwards; philosophical concepts are like mud fish - very slippery and very difficult to catch; before one was able to dwell on a concept, he must have patience to brood on difficult subject and appear dumb - I ripped this phrase off of a Russell's work - but once he captured the concept, everything all of sudden become unbelievably obvious. – George Chen Nov 1 '16 at 22:33
  • Also, a persons' philosophical peak comes and goes very fast, mostly because once a person's verbal skill passes a certain point, his head became a chatterbox, and it is difficult to contemplate directly on mental images - I ripped this off of another Russell's book. So, the morale is, if you feel your peak is coming, drop everything else and make the most out of it. – George Chen Nov 1 '16 at 22:40

The general answer is "no, there are no special prerequisites for philosophy." However, Philosophy is a topic which rewards those who are willing to accept challenges to their deepest held beliefs, and to those who are willing to view a topic from someone else's point of view.

I cannot speak to you as a person, but I can speak to the particular set of characteristics you chose to self-identify with in your opening paragraph. I recognize those characteristics as those commonly held by people who have been so successful that they have never been forced to accept substantive challenges to their beliefs. Such people often have trouble in Philosophy because they are happy to quickly declare a debate closed because there is no way anybody could disagree.

If indeed such a claim is valid in your case, you may be forced to work harder to attain success than you are used to. You may have to consider that you could be wrong in situations that you usually would simply shrug off and continue on the assumption you are right.

Or, it is entirely possible that these positions do not apply to you at all! Humans are wonderfully complicated creatures, and we're surprisingly good at figuring things out over time. That goes double for things we are told we'll never understand!

Best of luck to you!

  • i am nor v warmly received here, either. do you think there is an overlap ?? – user6917 Jan 23 '15 at 2:12
  • i remember taking a few different aptitude tests at school, and one said my cognitive / personality's flexibility was r low. i cant remember how low. – user6917 Jan 23 '15 at 3:08
  • I would add that you need good abilities in handling abstract concepts, see the implications of assumptions at a general level, think rationally (abstract from your emotional involvment, which is required to entertain your opponent's views seriously) etc. And perhaps a bit of imagination can help. – Quentin Ruyant Jan 23 '15 at 11:04

There was a biography I read some time ago by a British Philosopher whose observations might be apposite here; I forget his name, though; if I recall it, I'll put it up. His interests appeared to lie in Continental philosophy, rather than the analytic kind.

As a tutorial fellow at one of the colleges at Oxford, he noted, that his students had or didn't have a philosophical mind; and it rarely, it seemed to have to do with intelligence; some of his cleverest students found it puzzling why some questions 'mattered' philosophically; and if a question didn't matter, then why put in the effort to understand it, or solve it; in fact, when one doesn't understand why a particular question matters, its contours then refuse to reveal themselves.

As an aside; personally, I find it a little strange that one is expected at age 10 to think about a PhD; what matters, is the why and what of it, and not the having of of it as a kind of badge; the transition, I'm sure you are aware of now, between school & university is tremendous; in a sense its a Western Rite of Passage - to put it anthropologically.

I can't see how psychosis is going to help any. Good luck with it all.