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I've been studying philosophy quite intensively for a year and a half.

But when I say studying, I mean on the way to work, in audio format when I walk the dog and a lot of my free time.

I do not think that at this stage of my life that I will go back to university get a second degree in philosophy.

So I was just wondering, at what point of self-study, if at all, can I call myself a philosopher? or is that something solely a university can bestow on me?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Not_Here, virmaior, Conifold, Swami Vishwananda, Bread Mar 10 at 13:00

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    The field of philosophy should be happy to have you as a consumer and even producer. But you may already know that Nietzsche didn't sell many books while he was alive. Since there are unemployed/underemployed MAs and PhDs, you can imagine the competition in teaching and even in tutoring. – Gordon Mar 9 at 22:32
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    Actually, I have written a white paper in my field about a new way to think about solving some problems and I have made a todo list categorised on some philosophical concepts. – Jonathan Mar 9 at 22:33
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    I voted to close this question as subjective because when it comes to questions like "what qualifies as a philosopher" it is entirely too dependent on the context and specific intended meaning of the word to be able to answer objectively. You can call yourself whatever you want and you can consider yourself to be whatever you want, but under what circumstances you should call yourself something, those are almost impossible to answer. What is the audience of people you're asking about, in front of your friends? In front of a potential employer? In front of the mirror? It's all subjective. – Not_Here Mar 9 at 23:04
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    In a strict meaning, a contemporary philosopher is someone who makes the majority of their income from publishing/teaching philosophy. You wouldn't want to write "I'm an electrical engineer" on a job application if all your background is is reading a few books and working on small projects. You wouldn't want to call yourself a philosopher under the same circumstances. On the other hand, it seems reasonable to write "I consider myself a philosopher" in a personal bio on twitter or wherever else. It depends on the context, the audience, and what you mean by the word. – Not_Here Mar 9 at 23:08
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    @Cell I don't know why you said "actually", what I said is that you wouldn't want to do that. "You wouldn't want to commit tax fraud," why might you not want to do that? Well it's dishonest for one, but most people would probably answer "because its illegal." – Not_Here Mar 10 at 1:09
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Anytime you want. There's no legal or ethical boundary.

There is no professional criteria (licensing) for being a philosopher... or even a scientist, or baseball player or carpenter.

However, making such a claim without qualification might result in damage to reputation if the other people don't understand why you're not stating a falsehood.

  • Why is this question on hold? "but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise" The correct answer is a fact, and is referenced, and specific ... there is no legal requirements to be a philosopher. It's completely uncertified. You, me, anyone can do it anytime whatsoever and there's no answers here that say otherwise. It's 100% cut and dried and you're welcome to explain why it's not. – Randy Zeitman Mar 11 at 1:09
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It depends largely on how you define "philosopher."

I've been a deep thinker (i.e. philosophical) all my life. However, I didn't begin seriously studying philosophy until fairly recently.

I'm arrogant/confident enough to believe that I can make some contributions to the field in a few areas. But my ideas aren't published yet and will probably never be widely circulated or accepted in academia (which I have limited respect for).

I'm working on a book about philosophy right now. Rather than call myself a "philosopher," I'll probably narrow the field to calling myself an expert on "applied political philosophy," or something like that.

I'm going to include a fairly detailed biography that covers both my strong points and weak points and let readers decide for themselves how they want to judge me.

There are some fairly well known and widely published philosophers who are nothing but quacks.

In summary, if you're going to introduce yourself as a philosopher, just take care to explain exactly what you mean. If you're an unpublished student of philosophy who's working on a degree or a paper, then that might be helpful to know. Your age and life experience can also help people judge your qualifications.

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    i downvoted because imho it's bad advice to try and discredit academia... i don't suppose it's exactly right in the arts, though, so maybe you have a point. – user35983 Mar 10 at 6:26
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    True, there may be a difference between the arts and the political arena. Then again, politics and propaganda pervade almost everything. I recently bought a book titled "Lying" that someone on this forum recommended. The author and her parents are joined at the hip with Harvard, which speaks volumes to the politically astute. I had a hunch she would have some devious things to say about lying in the political arena, but there was an unexpected twist: She said her book wouldn't cover politics at all. Big surprise. ;) – David Blomstrom Mar 10 at 6:37
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    P.S. A number of academic/scientific journals have published some blatantly wacko articles that attempt to discredit conspiracy - not specific conspiracy theories but conspiracy theory in general. I've also seen this meme in a number of philosophical memes. Check out Sam Harris, for example. He calls himself a neurobiologist and philosopher, but some people say he qualifies as neither. – David Blomstrom Mar 10 at 6:39
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    Not a great answer, but upvoted for your observation about well-known and widely published quacks and your desire to do better. . . – PeterJ Mar 10 at 12:26
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    For context, this answer is written by a holocaust denier (he has multiple websites about it). Talking about 'widely published philosophers' being quacks is rich. – Not_Here Mar 10 at 21:12

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