The first philosophers had no sources and no vocabulary other than what their own powers of reason could muster.

But the attitude many on this site seem to take regarding "philosophy" reminds me of the attitude of classical musicians: Anything that does not fall within their accepted tradition and uses their accepted terminology is not worthy of serious consideration, ignoring the fact that much of what is today considered "classical music" was once "popular music". (Beethoven as a pianist might be categorized as a jazz musician today, based on his inventive and improvisational approach.)

It seems that such an attitude endangers the pursuit of "philosophy" and risks bring about its eventual extinction - much as classical music today is limited to a very small audience relative to the population as a whole. This is a loss both to the public at large and to the 'classical community'.

To quote the well known jazz musician, composer and critic Leonard Feather:

Jazz is the CLASSICAL MUSIC of the 20th Century.

Perhaps also relevant here are the words of Charles Mingus, who needs no introduction:

Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple, that's creativity.

Times change. Likewise, the definitions and lines of demarcations of various academic and artistic disciplines. Perhaps "Philosophy" needs a "shake up"? A "wake up"?

  • 1
    No, because the question of who exactly counts as a philosopher is itself a fundamental philosophical question.
    – David H
    May 17, 2013 at 15:21
  • @DavidH : ? If so, the question needs to be decided by a philosopher, no? So how did the first philosopher arise?
    – Vector
    May 17, 2013 at 15:38
  • @Mikey see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metaphilosophy
    – David H
    May 17, 2013 at 16:12
  • @DavidH - I see no need to introduce complexity into something that is inherently quite simple.
    – Vector
    May 17, 2013 at 16:20
  • 1
    This is not a duplicate question. If you doubt this, substitute the term "diver" for "philosopher." May 19, 2013 at 4:06

1 Answer 1


For academic philosophy, yes. Its generally through university. One needs to be acquainted with what other people have thought, said, written and crituqued.

Recall that a phD means a doctor of Philosophy. This is because the root of the university (at least in the western world) lies in the Academy of Plato where he cleared a space for philosophy. (This isn't to say that Philosophy doesn't go further back - it does - the presocratics, the ancient middle-eastern civilisations).

In the Anglo-American tradition, philosophy is distinctly practised by professional philosophers.

In the continental tradition, this is done by professional philosophers, as well as literary critics, sociologists, anthropologists and psychoanalysts.

Thinking of course is done by everyone. Thinking of a high-order and its articulation, particularly of the human condition is done by poets as well as novelists. Plato refers to an ancient quarrel between poets and philosophy. But they also refer to each other. Mallarme by Badiou, Holderlin by Heidegger. One should notice the Tao is written in poetic form.

Philosophic talent can happen anywhere. It not a genetic predisposition. One shouldn't confuse it with intelligence.

It also expresses itself within theology, this is the expression it takes during the Christian era in Europe as well as in Islam. In modern Europe philosophy disavows that relationship.

As for jargon, - every worthwhile discipline has its own. Go to a hardware store and look at the vast variety of what they have there. As for sources - doesn't a film-maker talk about who he's influenced by? As for skill, would you trust a surgeon who hasn't been through medical school?

In todays world, the vast apparatus of modern schooling probably picks up and orientates much philosophic talent as well as over-looking, and being wasteful of much too.

  • Thank you for an informed answer based on history and common sense, not idealogy and academic bias.
    – Vector
    May 18, 2013 at 17:00

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