I'm an Indian currently in class 12th which means after this year I shall be able to enter university. I'm 16 years old. I want to do philosophy without anyone and the main reason being alone is that I can't get any good university. I just want to leave my academics now and I know my parents will never let me do that but I will do it.

Answer only if you really can otherwise I don't need any advice.

  • 1
    Can you specify what you mean by "do philosophy"? Are you seeking to publish philosophical writing, teach philosophy, learn a philosophical tradition for your own pleasure? The answer to your question would vary greatly. Nov 2, 2018 at 15:35
  • You might try staying off the internet.
    – Marxos
    Nov 2, 2018 at 15:42
  • 1
    @TheDoctor The internet is a great environment to hone one’s nihilism!
    – Dan Bron
    Nov 2, 2018 at 16:36
  • There's no problem with getting philosophical works and reading them. You might have difficulty understanding some of them without help, but that's the breaks. BTW, are you planning to study Western philosophy, Indian philosophy, or both? Nov 2, 2018 at 22:01
  • @transitionsynthesis By "do philosophy" I meant to read, understand and then publish. Without anybody's help means I don't want professionals help because they never allow any layman to enter their realm. Nov 3, 2018 at 2:59

2 Answers 2


being a University student of Philosophy myself I have only one advice for you : read. Teachers are great. They explain what others thought and simplify everything. But a lot of it is just reading. Most philosophers in modern philosophy (Spinoza, Hobbes, Descartes) were not scholars. Some even prided themselves on not reading a lot !

Read some good philosophers (Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Descartes, Leibniz, Kant, Wittgenstein) and think for yourself. You can be a plumber and be more of a philosopher than an academic ! Spinoza earnt a living making glasses.

  • Thank you for your answer I'm really feeling good now. Can you please give some more inspirational philosophers who were not scholars along with your own personal experience. My gratitude to you. Nov 3, 2018 at 4:41
  • Well, in today's world, most people ''officially'' acknowledge as philosophers are scholars. But to me they are mostly historians of philosophy. non scholar philosophers include : Socrates, Plato, Zeno, Epicurus, Augustine, Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, Spinoza, Descartes. In my opinion, philosophy is a way of life (Pierre Hadot has good work on this). What good is knowing Kant's proof of why one should never lie if you lie ? Some people have never read philosophy and are behave more philosophically than experts in the field !
    – ismael
    Nov 4, 2018 at 15:38

I would suggest you'll be better off investigating philosophy in your own way than following a curriculum.

The internet allows us to do our own research, follow our own interests and work free of the restraints of the ruling academic paradigm. In an Indian university things may be different but elsewhere a very narrow curriculum is followed making self-study a strict necessity for a broad view of philosophy that would, say, include the philosophy of your wonderful Upanishads.

In the end we all have to study philosophy by ourselves and for ourselves. There are some good online courses worth considering but nobody can read the books for you or do the thinking.

A good philosopher is bound to be a scholar but this would not require attending university. Philosophy was a popular activity before universities were invented. At one time a lay-scholar had a problem with access to texts but those days are gone.

The two books I'd recommend to self-studiers just starting out would be Colin McGinn's Making of a Philosopher in which he discusses his thoughts about philosophy as he was growing up and Paul Davies' Mind of God in which he discusses the problems of philosophy as they arise for physics. Both are chatty and simple. These may not be so useful to an Indian student but they are an easy way in to the subject. You're in the fortunate position of being able to decide your own reading list.

You may struggle to acquire the various skills that one picks up in the process of formal study, research skills for instance, and communication skills in particular. But it's a problem that can be overcome as you go along.

  • 4
    @Not_Here. I have edited to answer to remove the too broad polemical remarks about academic philosophers. My current view is that the answer can stand without those remarks, which are not essential to the main substance of the answer. Ping me if you still have concerns : GLT
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Nov 3, 2018 at 18:35
  • @GeoffreyThomas - The comment was not too broad and was true as it stood but I'd agree it was unnecessary. I was trying to point out that studying philosophy is not like studying geography, say, because in the latter field ones teachers tend to know the answers. Consequently geography is best studied in university. Philosophy is different. .
    – user20253
    Nov 4, 2018 at 13:37
  • 1
    J. As an academic philosopher myself, and one who has contributed quite a bit on here (apparently usefully) I did feel the remark too sweeping. Enough perhaps that we agree the remark was unnecessary. Btw I always enjoy reading your questions & answers. Best - Geoffrey
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Nov 4, 2018 at 19:17
  • @GeoffreyThomas - I do see your point. No problem.
    – user20253
    Nov 5, 2018 at 12:54
  • J. You do have a point about academic philosophy. Nowadays I read the philosophy journals and can't for the life of me see why many of the articles were written, except to boost the author's publication record. There's pseudo-technicality and no obvious problem of importance being addressed. There is some good work in ethics and political philosophy, or so it seems to me : but I don't think we are living in the glory days of academic philosophy. But this has happened before in philosophy; there are barren periods and then a new flourishing. I may not be around to see the latter ;)- GT
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Nov 5, 2018 at 13:09

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .