Dan Mullin is a philosophy grad student and part-time teacher who runs a blog called The Unemployed Philosopher's Blog. His mission statement is to challenge the view that a philosophical education isn't of much value for employment. As he says:
My name is Daniel Mullin and I’m a philosophy grad student and part-time teacher. The other part of the time, I’m unemployed and/or looking for work. I’ve been relatively successful in finding work in the traditional job market for philosophy — teaching at universities — but that market consists mainly of contract positions that don’t really provide a liveable wage. Also, in order to get them, you have to be willing to live a transitory lifestyle, moving wherever and whenever there’s work. The tenure track job is still the holy grail, but there’s a lot of competition for those in a market that’s shrinking. What’s a guy with a philosophy degree to do? The conventional wisdom tells him that there aren’t many other options. The purpose of this blog is to challenge that conventional wisdom and explore innovative ways to use one’s philosophical background. I want to make a case for the value and versatility of an education in philosophy
Part of his project is to interview people who he feels can provide a perspective on philosophy and employment, which he does in a podcast which you can find on the blog (don't think he's on iTunes yet). He recently reached out to us for an interview and spoke with me (Seth) about my background, educational and life choices and how PEL got started and what we do. The pearls of wisdom that dropped from my mouth you can find here.
Mark Linsenmayer says
I find it funny that after all this time, Seth actually thinks of PEL as coming out as once a month, whereas I’ve made sure that we’ve recorded consistently every three weeks, or sometimes more often, for most of our existence. To me, that’s a substantial lifestyle difference, and not merely a verbal quibble. (Folks should keep this point in mind when they urge us to go consistently to every two weeks; the strain on us from an editing and reading perspective would be pretty overwhelming were we to do this.)
Dan M. says
Thanks for linking to the show, gents. And thanks again to Seth for being such a great guest.
it was nice to get some of the behind the scenes info but I was more interested in the topic at the end of how, if at all, to take the core of what you guys do and spin off local meetings, I think there would have to be some agreement at the start (of each group) about how closely to follow the PEL podcast model of actually doing the readings before hand and more or less sticking to the texts at hand, or to go more off the cuff, free association, on related themes.
It’s good that much of the more paternalistic aspects of traditional authority been shed in N.America but we also seem to have lost much of our sense of respect for work/experience based meritocracy and really don’t yet have good working models of peer accountability which is a real detriment in much social organizing, and often makes running groups pretty messy so there are some management issues to be settled.
Thanks for sharing the interview, Seth. I found your comments regarding the amount of commitment necessary for being a full-time academic very helpful considering I’m applying to graduate school. Has PEL considered discussing neuroethics or neuroaesthetics?
the shows mentioned with Churchland and Flanagan along these lines are quite good, Alva Noe is busy pimping his new book on neurophenomenology and art and might be available as a future guest for the guys: http://www.kqed.org/a/forum/R201208201000
This quote rang so true that I literally transcribed it and saved it so I can explain this to my kids when they go to college:
“If you want to be a programmer, you get a computer science degree. If you want to be an accountant, you get an accounting degree. If you want to be in business, you go get an MBA. I can tell you after 14, 15 years in the technology industry, a technical degree or a narrow and specific focus degree is kind of a one way ticket to a career path that makes you make one of two choices:
One is that you can stick to your specific profession, like programming or finance, and you can wait until they find somebody cheaper – in another country or a recent graduate – to replace you. Or, you can go into management, and manage people.
Whereas, if you have the skill set that comes with being a well-educated liberal arts major – meaning you have the ability to research, you have the ability to understand and process information, you can distinguish fact from opinion, you can communicate and offer arguments and assess other people’s arguments, you can present information that can be digested by different audiences – you will have a long and fulfilling career, and your skills will always be required in pretty much any business setting.”
This so mirrored my professional experience. My undergrad was in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy & Religion and then later got a technical degree (and then an MS). I realized real quick that my philosophy background set me apart from the other ‘techies’ and was able to get out of the grind build a very successful and fulfilling career. When people say “I don’t use my undergrad degree,” I say “Wrong! I use it every day.”
Gotta say, I hate the comic. If you’re going to use a sexist joke on a male dominated blog, in a male dominated discipline, it should at least be funny.
Seth Paskin says
How is it sexist?
Well, first let me apologize for my snippy tone. Twas past my bedtime when I commented last night.
But still, I think the comic is sexist. Here’s why: on a certain traditional picture that is still latent in our culture, men are generally identified with their vocation/job/role in society–soldier, farmer, butcher, baker, candlestick-maker, philosopher. In contrast, women are generally identified with some relation that they bear to men–wife, daughter, mother. (There are some extra roles for women in there, like ‘whore’, but I can’t think of any strong examples that seem to make this picture better). And, perhaps unsurprisingly, the roles themselves are gendered on this picture. Soldiers, farmers, philosophers are by default male. This picture, it seems to me, is sexist.
If our culture were innocent of this conception of social roles, there would be nothing sexist about the comic. (There are lots of unemployed male philosophers with wives after all! Why shouldn’t we portray their stories in comics?) But we’re not. This picture, or something like it, does affect the expectations, self-conceptions, and stereotypes that we carry around with us. In particular, there is reason to think that the stereotype of philosophers as male/women as domestic is alive and well. I don’t know of any conclusive studies showing that it is, but I’ve heard loads of anecdotes of philosophers expressing this stereotype (see: beingawomaninphilosophy.wordpress.com) and the presence of such a stereotype is usually taken as the cause of implicit bias, which is in turn hypothesized as a major source the continued dearth of women in philosophy (at least in all the serious work that I’ve read on the matter).
Given the context, it seems to me that this comic both expresses and reinforces a sexist stereotype which is causing a lot of bad for women in philosophy these days.
After all that rambling, I’m somewhat dissatisfied with my attempt at explanation. I’m surprised at how hard it is to tease out. I should have just said, “Good grief, she’s wearing an apron!”