I apologize in advance if my question should be discussed on Philosophy Meta, but when thinking about the question I couldn't decide whether it would be appropriate there.

Thinking about the questions which I've seen here... leads one to think that you need some sort of education to answer a lot of question about philosophy. How? Let me elaborate, when you ask a question, you are asking because you want an answer, or you want your question answered...

But unlike many StackExchange sites, I've come to the point that, on Philosophy StackExchange you need some sort of deep education/education to be able to answer a question since philosophy is so complex and it's history even more complex, My Point is that

To answer a question about philosophy, What level of education (Not just academic, self-learning too) do you need? and is my point at all valid?

P.S If any moderator deems this question inappropriate to be discussed here, You can delete this question.

  • 1
    "I apologize in advance if my question should be discussed on Philosophy Meta" if you are asking about answering philosophical questions in general (not only on Phi.SE), I don't see any issue. But there are different questions: reference request, history, explanation, discussions... All require different skills and knowledge.
    – rus9384
    Jul 8, 2018 at 16:26
  • Well, I'm talking in general, but i have mostly seen it on Phi.SE
    – captindfru
    Jul 8, 2018 at 16:28
  • It appears you are already studying Plato. Good. There is no secret, just be patient and keep learning.
    – Gordon
    Jul 8, 2018 at 18:38
  • So just to be clear about your question, do you mean what does it take to answer a philosophical question in general or you mean specifically on this website? Because if in general then this question is appropriate here, if you mean on this site what does it take then fhat’s a question for the meta site. The meta sight is for questions about this site itself.
    – Not_Here
    Jul 8, 2018 at 23:14
  • @Not_Here Well, talking in general, you need to study a whole lot of philosophy to be able to answer questions without showing your opinion but showing a philosophical way of thinking.
    – captindfru
    Jul 9, 2018 at 10:38

7 Answers 7


That you do philosophy

The answer is the same as for the questions "Who is a scientist? What does it take to answer a science question?". Answers: it requires that you do philosophy / do science.

This may sound like a tautology but it is not. It serves to illustrate that point that philosophy and science are not something that requires training or a degree. Granted you will do a whole lot better if you are trained, but this is by no means a requirement.

One of the youngest authors to ever publish a science paper is Emily Rosa. She published a paper to the Journal of the American Medical Association when she was 11. She had no academic training in science, and clearly no degree or similar in the field. It does not take titles or certifications to be a philosopher or scientist. All it takes is that you do philosophy or science.

"But what is..."

  • Philosophy (from Greek φιλοσοφία, philosophia, literally "love of wisdom") is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.

  • Science (from Latin scientia, meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.

So in short... science is when you ask the question "How does this thing work?" and then go on to find that out. Philosophy is when you — at the same time — ask "how can I be sure I get it right?".

And everyone can do this.

  • Great answer, yet, It doesn't make much sense, since philosophy as a study is so complex, you need to study a lot of it, to be able to answer things in a philosophical way of thinking
    – captindfru
    Jul 9, 2018 at 10:41
  • @captindfru Not true. Philosophy can be both very complex and very simple. It is kind of like maths: counting is simple, non-linear differential equations... not so much.
    – MichaelK
    Jul 9, 2018 at 10:46
  • Yes, as you said, it's very complex and very simple, but as my question suggests to answer a philosophical question you need a complex knowledge of philosophy, although you can ask questions around it, it's hard to answer them depending on what philosophers like Plato said, I don't know much about philosophy but I love it, I can ask questions I can't answer a lot of them since they are really hard to understand...
    – captindfru
    Jul 9, 2018 at 10:52
  • @captindfru Yes but your question suggests wrong, because to determine what level of competence is needed to answer a question depends also - i dare say mostly - on the question and not merely on what domain (in this case that domain is philosophy) it belongs to.
    – MichaelK
    Jul 9, 2018 at 10:56

My take on philosophy is just the ability to be a critical thinker. This is not a formal training, just an approach were you can take both sides of an argument and follow it. The problem with a lot of philosophical thinking is some get overly emotional and provocative against those who do not have the same outlook. And some philosophies are down right depressing and can suck the life out of you.

So my advice is to be emotionally grounded and have good relationships with your support group.

To stare day after day at the black hole that will eat you and all you care about or view the most glorious fulfilment of everything you know and cherish have some remarkably different effects on ones daily life.

Philosophy and ethics asks questions about boundaries of behaviour and what is acceptable and what is not. If you discover you believe you must be the most moral person ever, or it really does not matter at all, these positions will effect what you encourage and spend your time doing. Some philosophies have led people to die, while others to find true inner peace, so this should never be taken lightly. There are few pursuits where thinking by itself could damage your life......

  • Yes, we can see that philosophy is centered around philosophers way of thinking but it also takes from opinions and emotions, critical thinking?? wouldn't it take more than just that, you have to think in a way that other philosophers.
    – captindfru
    Jul 9, 2018 at 10:46

I'm getting a PhD in philosophy, and I'm friends/acquaintances with many professional philosophers (i.e. philosophy professors), and I guess I'll weigh in here.

The answer depends on what you think a philosophical question looks like and what would count as an answer to one. Most philosopher think philosophical questions have answers (assuming the questions aren't nonsense of some kind), but you would be hard pressed to find many philosophical questions that philosophers would agree have been answered.

Arguably, there is no upper limit to the amount of education or learning that would be required to answer a philosophical question, because some philosophical questions, while they may have answers, may not admit of being answered. Maybe, for some questions, we can just get better and better approximate answers. (Side point: think about what I just said. Do you think this is possible? Whether or not there are questions like that is a philosophical question itself. Now, think about how hard it would be to definitively answer it.)

So, it depends on what you think a philosophical question is and what kind of answer you think is satisfactory.

If you just want an answer that satisfies your sense of the question, then you (if you're like most people) can probably go to the library, read some books, think about it, and be satisfied. If you want a deeper satisfaction than that, you'll have to read a lot more and talk to professionals who work on whatever question you're asking. If you want even more—-perhaps an answer that would satisfy any inquiring rational mind, or something along those lines—-then you're going to spend your whole life on that question, and you'll need to read as much as humanly possible about it. If you decide to do that, welcome to professional philosophy! And in that case, if you have any questions about conferences, journals, workshops etc., then hit me up. ;)

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    – J D
    Nov 25, 2019 at 15:15

The answer depends greatly on many things. One of them is what you think a "philosopher" is in the first place. Myself, I profess to agree with something Alan Watts said:

A philosopher is a sort of intellectual yokel. He goes around gawking at everything other people take for granted.

You can see how much formal education fit into that definition.

My own opinion is that the key to answering questions in philosophy is to recognize that some questions have no answers, and that is intended. Some questions have many answers, and that is intended too. Once you are comfortable with that, you can ponder what it means to intend such things.


Philosophy is not a homogeneous or unified discipline. What counts as philosophy for one person is not accorded that status by another person.

For instance, I am of the persuasion that if a question has an unequivocal or a "right" answer, then it is not a philosophical question. Others will reject this standpoint.

For me, the purpose of philosophy is to question answers (which is really what any statement is), and not the other way around. As Socrates discovered, this perspective does not sit well with those who are otherwise disposed.


Anyone can be a philosopher. It just depends on how good you really are at theorizing, articulating facts and ground work of an argument. There is also researching. The more vigorously and precise you do these things will set you apart from another. I've always liked Socrates and my first ever intro to "philosophy" was learning about the Socratic method.

My professor told me, "To be philosopher just ask why you want be a philosopher." I know it's a joke, but it's basically a true statement.

I know this post is a very basic, stripped down answer, but if you just want to know if you need a degree to be a philosopher, the answer is no.

  • I made some edits. You may roll these back or continue editing. You can see the versions by clicking on the "edited" link above. Welcome to this SE! Oct 16, 2018 at 4:16

A philosopher is someone that questions there own minds attentions(to question where your attention is)philosophers do not answer questions, they give opinions about questions. Some times those questions are good enough answers(like an allegory). I beleive a philosopher is someone that lives a life and ponders things(while he lives his life)ultimately, coming up with his own understanding and teaching what he has learned(like a professor or a dad or a man to another man). I hope this wasnt babble, as I am this man.

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