I'm looking for (names of) philosophers who had successful careers in academia but, for whatever set of reasons, chose to leave and pursue work outside of academia, even if only temporarily.

For this question, please exclude disgruntled PhD students and folks who left academic philosophy due to the work culture/environment or because they did not get tenure-- unless you have an interesting and little-known example. It shouldn't be someone I can find by searching "philosophers who left academia".

Wittgenstein is probably the most famous example. Neurath counts as well due to his work on e.g. Isotype.

I'm primarily looking for contemporary figures. The distinction gets a bit blurry in antiquity because philosophy was a very different beast back then.

  • 1
    Many philosophers from Germany and Austria, including much of the Vienna circle, had to "leave and pursue work outside of academia" for obvious reasons. Many emigrated and eventually came back to academia after the war, in the US or UK. Neurath just died too soon. This even happened to Heidegger, who had a falling out with the Nazis a year after they made him rector in Freiburg. After the war he was not allowed to teach until 1950. Wittgenstein was too sick after 1947. Popper similarly retired in 1969, but stayed active until 1990s.
    – Conifold
    Jan 6 '20 at 21:52
  • @Conifold all true, though I'm more interested in folks who pursued other careers for personal, philosophical, and/or ethical reasons, independent of external circumstances. Without the catastrophe of Nazism, it's likely many would have continued their academic careers. Jan 7 '20 at 21:10
  • 2
    One example is Yuval Steiniz, an Israeli academic philosopher, who left the academy for politics, and has become a minister in several governments. Jan 8 '20 at 18:32
  • 2
    Peter Bieri left academics (senior professorship at FU Berlin) and writes quite successful books under the pseudonym Pascal Mercier. That being said, this cannot produce anything but list answers, which are generally considered to be a bad fit for StackExchange.
    – Philip Klöcking
    Apr 5 '20 at 19:22

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.