Here’s some sobering advice for philosophy PhD candidates from Michael Huemer at the University of Colorado. The page came to my attention through Leiter Reports.
Philosophers, not to mention philosophy PhD candidates, are prone to delusions of grandeur. So Huemer’s advice, though hard to swallow, is worth reading.
Here’s just a snippet. If you want to read about how to get a job in philosophy, check Huemer’s page. But for anyone who wishes to avoid Huemer’s bitter pill, I’ll stick to the advice that applies only after you have a job in philosophy. So, here’s the answer to question 11, How does one advance in philosophy?
There are some people with great jobs who get a lot of attention in the field. How do they do it? Three main factors matter:
a. Cleverness. This is one necessary condition on success in the field [sic. The ability to proofread must not be necessary ]. One must be good at devising clever arguments for surprising conclusions, and one must be quick-witted when defending them.
b. Connections. One must meet and make friends with the right people, i.e., the philosophers who are already established in the field.
It appears that one must combine the shrewdness and good fortune of Homer’s Odysseus with the networking abilities of professional development guru Tony Robbins to be a top academic philosopher.
While I appreciate the ‘reality check’ and agree that cleverness is, and should be, a necessary condition of success in the field, I’d be disappointed if everyone from AC Grayling to Slavoj Žižek also owes their career to connections and luck — if cream only rises to the top due to good fortune and a knack for establishing friendships of utility.
 Obnoxious Philosophical Practise 1: deliberately quoting a passage with a mistake in it just so you can draw attention to the fact that the quoted philosopher has made a mistake, however trivial. [Back to text]