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Aristotle, Simone de Beauvoir, and Noam Chomsky. These three thinkers have profoundly affected thought in the Western world. Plato was one of the original of these thinkers, a philosopher who was trying to explain life in terms beyond science, religion, and superstition. They look for the purity of thought, and analyze humanity, human actions, and human desires in new ways.

Modern philosophers like Chomsky are often professors. They teach classes to eager young philosophers, and cover topics such as free will, time and space relations, politics, nationalism, personal identity, laws of nature, oppression, and war. Professors conduct their classes openly, encouraging students to rethink their ideas, and come up with fresh, challenging points of view. The students learn to construct their arguments logically. Philosophy classes often erupt in debate.

Philosophers are strong believers in the influence of emotion. They are scientists who include emotion into equations. For example, a group of medical doctors might argue that a certain drug is dangerous and should be banned, while another group of scientists will argue that while the drug is potentially harmful, it should be distributed because it could save patients lots of money. Each group of scientists is right in their thinking. It takes a philosopher to negotiate with the scientists, who have forgotten emotion. They are ignoring the wants of the people, they are forgetting the desires of the public. Philosophers know that the group of scientists that recognizes the prevailing emotions of the people will dominate.

College and university professors teach, but they also perform significant research. Their research can be used by government organizations, non-profit groups, school boards, international rights organizations, and various social movements.

Philosophers have had a profound influence on humanity since the beginning. Ever since the first time someone looked at the sky and wondered what lay beyond it, since the first slave looked at a master and realized they were equals, since the first woman demanded the right to decide the fate of her body, we have had philosophers among us. People who commit to philosophy as a lifestyle are brave, intelligent, and will always be important to our society.
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  Interests and Skills  
Anyone interested in a career in philosophy needs a thoughtful, open mind. Students of philosophy love thinking, analyzing, discussing, and changing their minds again and again. They are intelligent, logical communicators, who don't mind working with unpredictable situations and people. They need to love reading, history, sociology, and academics. They should be able to discuss profound questions comfortably, accept criticism, and should be able to write about complex ideas in easy to understand ways.

  Typical Tasks  
  • Read current philosophical literature
  • Talk with their colleagues and students
  • Host seminars and lecture at conferences
  • Do research, conducts experiments, collect and analyze data
  • Form ideas, come to conclusions
  • Write papers, articles, and books
  • Advise governments, company directors, and boards of directors of hospitals, school boards, and non-profit organizations
  • Philosophers do a lot of thinking and talking each day. They meet with students and colleagues to discuss ideas. They read and re-read the works of other philosophers, in an attempt to gain insight on their subjects. They visit archives and libraries. They may travel to conferences, meetings, and to other schools. They will spend much of each day indoors at a desk and/or computer.

  Workplaces, Employers and Industries  
  • Philosophers generally teach and study in universities. However, they can also be found in governments, in health services, in non-profit agencies, as consultants for the corporate sector, and as writers, journalists, and artists. If they work in the public or private sector, they will work in offices, libraries, and lecture halls, and they will have regular workweeks, with weekends, evenings, and holidays off. However, philosophers who choose to explore philosophical ideas in more creative ways will probably work out their homes or studios, and set their own hours.

  Long Term Career Potential  
Philosophers are usually professors in universities. However, they don't have to stay there. They can get into counseling, writing, sociology, conflict resolution, and law. They may choose to become novelists or artists, expressing their philosophical beliefs in more abstract ways. They may get into business communication, activism, politics, or journalism.

  Educational Paths  
Philosophers are academic scientists, which means they spend many years in training. The minimum requirement for philosophers is a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in philosophy. With this, a philosopher can work in a college or find work in the private sector. But anyone who wants to work in universities as a professor needs a PhD.

Students interested in becoming philosophers should consider specializing in one area of philosophical study, like feminist philosophy, or ethics.

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2014-15 Edition,
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Employment Statistics, 2002,

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