Monday, November 5, 2007

It's a Hard World to Get a Break In

I'm coming very late in blog-time to this this throw-down about the ethics of junior faculty going back on the market before they're up for tenure review. For those who haven't been paying attention, some senior profs think it's wrong when junior profs start looking to move up before their tenure reviews.

At this point, I'm not even sure what I want to say exactly. I guess the first thing is, what Sisyphus said. In my program, like hers, it's taken for granted that we take whatever job we can get. And then, it's taken for granted that at least some of us are going to start looking around for something that fits a little a better--somewhere with better support for teaching and research, somewhere closer to family, a solution to a two-body problem, whatever.

But there's something else that's been bugging me about this, and I can't quite put my finger on exactly what it is. I have no idea if what follows is going to make any fucking sense.

The thing is, last year's market kicked the shit out me. Getting rejected blithely, casually, without even enough fucking consideration to put my name on a god-damned PFO, over and over and over again--that was profoundly dehumanizing. And after that, I just don't have a lot of sympathy for senior faculty saying it's wrong for junior hires to move up when the senior faculty were perfectly happy to use that dehumanizing process to get the best hire they could.

No, I'm not blaming individual departments for the way the job market works. It is what it is. But we all take the good with the bad.

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

As a general rule, I think your thoughts on junior faculty going back on the market are just right. (There are exceptions, of course, as when a university made it clear that they were looking for someone who would stick around, or didn't have the resources to do another search in the near future).

But as a prudential question from the part of junior faculty - how much can this hurt you elsewhere? How might/do these spurned departments hurt your chances in going back on the market? (I apologize if this topic has already been addressed).

Himself said...

I want to say this about that:

It's quite clear to me that, if a department thought you were going to leave after a year, they wouldn't hire you. As has been said elsewhere, they would hire someone less cool if it meant said someone was actually going to stick around. This means that a crucial part of the jobsearch is convincing the State University of Nebraska that you really want to live in Bismarck for the rest of your life, despite the fact that no-one does. This looks rather a lot like lying.

Now, philosophers ought to have some kind of grid for working out whether that's 'unethical'. Frankly I think it's every philosopher for themselves out there. Personally, I really doubt I'd stick it out beyond a couple of years at any institution that hired me, because I don't stick things out. But you have already been told that this kind of behaviour is preventing institutions lower down hiring applicants who are too good for them, so you can't simultaneously say one practice is OK and the other isn't.

Anonymous said...

As a senior faculty member, we NEVER hire someone assuming they'll be looking for a better ride elsewhere. EVERYONE we hire we hope will stay with us and make the college his/her own. Whether that's right or wrong, that's how I do it.

Jon Cogburn said...

Note- the following only applies to people with tenure track jobs.

(1) Precisely because the job market is so horrible I find the practice abhorrent. If you really love philosophy, then getting paid to do it is one of the best things in the world (just below finding the right spouse, I think), and worth living in the middle of nowhere if need be. I have so many friends that are lawyers or computer programmers in great cities such as Boston and San Fransisco and I would not change places with any of them! If you would, then GET OUT AND STOP COMPETING WITH PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY LOVE PHILOSOPHY. Moreover, if your spouse doesn't enthusiastically support your love of philosophy, then either you didn't marry the right person, or you don't love philosophy enough.

(2) Maybe this is overly romantic, but I still believe that study of philosophy should help inculcate certain psychological virtues. The people I see that try to make places better (and if you have tenure there is a lot you can do to make even the crappiest department a better place for yourself, your students, and your colleagues) manifest these virtues much more than the ones who convince themselves they are better than their institution and always try to leave.

(3) While there are notable exceptions, the overwhelming majority of the people I know who go on the market each year aren't any happier when they do get another job. And it tends to make their philosophy trite, as the subjecting yourself to the ordeal is draining and horrible even if you have a job.

(4) It's not that easy to jump from one tenure track job to another one, so most such people just waste tons of time when they could be making their institution better and making themselves better candidates for tenure. Not only does the years long time, money, energy sink make their philosophy more trite than it would be otherwise, but they don't put enough into departmental service. Moreover, other people in the department pick up on the fact that they are trying to get out, and as a result are less willing to go to bat for them if there are any issues concerning the person's tenure.

(5) If you have tenure track and you are truly that much better than your department, people will start making soft job offers to you. The smart thing to do is just do the best you can where you are at, and then if you really belong someplace else it will happen on its own.

Anonymous said...

I'm a weird junior-senior hybrid. (I have tenure, so I think that technically makes me senior. But I like to think of myself as being young at heart. And, when I said something to my advisor that presupposed that I was senior, he scoffed.) Anyway, as a senior-ish person who's hiring this year, I don't want to hire someone who thinks that our job is crap, will be unhappy, and will look to move on ASAFP. But, as a junior-ish person who understands the allure of better jobs (better department, better city, better life -- whatever) and who has been on the market after first getting hired, I see nothing wrong with applying out. What I think is generally regarded as wrong is applying out in your first year, which essentially means applying out in your first semester; that suggests that you didn't take the job in good faith or something. But, after the first year, I think it's permissible.

-- That Guy

Anonymous said...

Jon --

(1) I have lived in the middle of nowhere, got paid to do philosophy, and loved it. I sort of regret having left the middle of nowhere, actually. But I don't think it's unreasonable to want to get paid to do philosophy and also be near aged relatives or live in a city where people don't attack you on your doorstep.

(2) I don't think I'm better than my department. Not everyone who wants to leave thinks they are. There are reasons other than feeling underplaced at one's department for wanting to leave. But, admittedly, it is a common reason.

(3) Being on the job market, at least the first time, actually proved to be really good for my dissertation -- at least in retrospect. (I got some really good questions from people I wouldn't have heard from otherwise.) But I'm with you on the elusive search for happiness. Liz Phair's wise words are a constant reminder: "It's better to be friends than lovers/ because if you try to mix the two/ and you find you're still unhappy/ you know the problem is you."

(4) Yeah, that's a potential problem. But I've done a shitload of service (hiring, supervision, etc.) and department-building while applying out. It's possible to apply out without completely giving up on your current institution.

(5) I've been told that it's a good idea to get your CV on other people's desks -- people who might otherwise not have heard of you might actually take a look at you and your work. Perhaps that's wrong.

-- That Guy Again

bjdouble said...

Do senior faculty negotiate their salary with the administration, or just take whatever they're offered?

Anonymous said...

This strikes me as wrong-headed:

"I have so many friends that are lawyers or computer programmers in great cities such as Boston and San Fransisco and I would not change places with any of them! If you would, then GET OUT AND STOP COMPETING WITH PEOPLE WHO ACTUALLY LOVE PHILOSOPHY. Moreover, if your spouse doesn't enthusiastically support your love of philosophy, then either you didn't marry the right person, or you don't love philosophy enough."

First, why can't one love a region as much as one loves philosophy, and still love philosophy maximally? Second, if your spouse loves his or her career as much as you love philosophy, and you both married the right person, why should one's love of philosophy override one's spouse's love of his or her career?

And the idea that it's morally wrong to look for a second job while still pre-tenure at a tenure-track job seems to me to be completely unjustifiable. Yes, it can do some harm to departments. (And it might do harm to oneself. But imagine the many cases where it won't harm oneself.) This harm seems pretty pale in comparison to the harm done to a person by not (finding and) taking that second job. Post-tenure positions are even harder to come by than pre-tenure positions. And in addition to all the other reasons for going on the market - wanting to live near family or friends, wanting to live in what one perceives is a better environment, wanting a different balance of teaching and research, etc. - going on the market is often the only way to get a raise for oneself (whether that come at one's existing institution or elsewhere). Only in philosophy (and I suppose academia more broadly) would it be said that an employee should (1) stunt her career, (2) take less money, (3) live somewhere that she doesn't want to live, and/or (4) have a less-than-satisfying job just because doing so is in the employer's interest!

And, as others have emphasized, it's false that the preponderance of pre-tenure folks who move on do so at the expense of their students or service. I've seen many pre-tenure philosophers take second jobs who were among the most dedicated and hard-working (service-wise) members of their departments, who continued supervising students from their first jobs while working at their second, and so on.

Jon Cogburn said...

O.K. Anon 11:19-

(1) First, I'm worried that people will read my comments through the sexist assumption that the spouse is female and the academic male. Two of my good friends from graduate schools married men who followed them- one to a state in the deep south and the other in a mostly rural foreign country. Both found the right spouse.

(2) Anon assumes that sacrifice in a relationship must go one way. Most of my friends, male and female who had a spouse who had to move, took pretty big financial hits so the spouse in question could pursue long standing life goals, for example involving further education at the new university in question.

In decent marriages, both spouses do as much as possible to make sure the other spouse thrives. This involves substantial sacrifice, and it must go both ways.

(2) If you don't love philosophy as much as you love place, you don't love philosophy enough to expect to be paid for it. There are too many good philosophers out there who love philosophy a lot more than you, and they deserve a job vastly more than your whiny self. I should have mentioned in the previous post that the lawywers and computer programmers I was mentioning had philosophy Ph.Ds.

(3) This isn't just (though it is that) a claim about fairness. Jeez, go read some Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, or Aristotle for that matter.

Both philosophers I know whose spouses finally vetoed living in a bad area, and finally quit their job as a result to move to a nicer one, ended up getting divorced. Seneca et. al. are right! With the exception of people in hospitals, prison, war zones- the gripe about place always involves massive amounts of bad faith masking the true and lasting causes of unhappiness.

So I stand by my statement, if an academic married someone for whom location is a deal-breaker, it's overwhelmingly likely that academic made a mistake- either in who they married, or in deciding to be an academic. Of the two male spouses who moved that I mentioned earlier, one has an M.A. and another has a Ph.D in philosophy. They made their choices and managed to work out a good thing with their wives.

(4) Forget about the "moral" claim I was supposed to be making. I'm making a prudential claim. (a) If you think place is so important to you, you either need to get over it, get therapy, or to get in a different field (albeit, such pathologies hurt you in private industry as well). You are going to be extraordinarily unhappy otherwise. (b) If you have a tenure track job, and are not tenured, you will probably not move up to a better institution in any case; I only know one Assistant Professor whose move was genuinely to a better institution, and two who moved laterally. (c) Continuing to subject yourself to APA job search hell year after year will only succeed in making you unhappy and screwing up the good job you could be doing at the institution who hired you. People in the field will also suspect that you are a winger too. When you do manage to get an interview, they'll try to suss this out and you probably won't be able to convince them otherwise.

(5) If we want to talk about dishonesty, let's start a string on the process Anon 11:15 mentions of getting a pay raise in your home institution by stringing along some other hapless institution. This also involves bad faith and builds resentment. Unless you are a star, equity pay raises will even out the difference between your raise and your colleagues in any case, and all you did was show everybody that you are a tool (note that private industry is actually much *less* forgiving about this practice; you should only apply at places where you genuinely want to go, and either just take the job or not).

Finally, this being said, I know a fair number of Associate Professors who have gotten hired by better places without going on the market. But if you are Assistant, you should just do the best job you can in terms of teaching, service, research, and collegiality. Going on the market year after year undermines all four of these. It's also an insult to people who really need the employment.

It is galling when philosophers of all people demonstrate a lack of moral proportion. PGOAT and friends love philosophy and are undergoing all sorts of sacrifices to try to make a career of serving Lady Philosophy (for those who haven't read Seneca et. al., that's from Boethius and later John Kennedy O' Toole). Their struggle is ultimately noble; albeit also horrendously difficult. Bad faith whining from people with already employed is simply preposterous in this context.

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

"Himself" -- not to pick a fight or anything... but, if the State University of Nebraska needed to be convinced of your willingness to live iin Bismarck (North Dakota) -- then things are more complicated than just making up a whole university system...

and, to "John Cogburn" -- It does seem pretty clear that you haven't had the joys of a two-academic career long-distance relationship. I'm tenured here and I'll be on the market again next year, as hubby and I will be trying to find some city in which we can teach and live together... We've been living apart for two years and it sucks.

Jon Cogburn said...

Inside the Philosophy Factory; I'm honored that you think so well of me that the intemperance of the previous posts led you to think it might not really be from me (if I'm right to read the quotes around my mis-pelled name as scare quotes).

Anyhow, you've got me on this one; the stuff about spouses in my posts was insensitive and morally obtuse.

Any reader of your excellent blog knows that you do not exhibit any of the pathologies about which I've complained. In particular, it's clear that you are a pillar of your institution, working your butt off to make the place better. It inspires me to do a better job myself, and should inspire others.

The cowriter of the book I'm writing had to live for five years apart from his spouse and it totally sucked. I could not have done that!

This being said, I think my points still have some validity for many, many couples. The problem in question is one all married people have to negotiate, but you can't use it as an excuse to be miserable (I'm talking about people who live together) or use it as an excuse to screw up your one chance at a job you love. In my experience, most Assistant Professors who constantly go on the market are doing both of those things.

Jon Cogburn said...

Ooh, maybe you thought it was a pseudonym. For what it's worth, I'm real (insert bad philosophy joke here). A slightly out of date pdf of my vita can be found at http://www.projectbraintrust.com/cogburn/ .

Anonymous said...

Jon-

I agree with your characterization of "Jon Cogburn's" previous remarks on the two-body problem as insensitive and morally obtuse... ;-)

Even with that self-chastening, however, it seems that the main points of your argument all presuppose the inability of any one of lady philosophy's many lovers to undergo change outside of that relationship. And while such change might alter the character of that relationship, it need not weaken it.

I am in a tenure track position and quite happy. I have neither desire nor intention to leave it. As far as things stand now, I'd like to retire here. But, external forces might come to bear upon me that necessitate my seeking a change of place. Perhaps my mother will experience a debilitating stroke and as a result I will feel a reasonable desire to move in order to help her. Perhaps I will have a child with special needs not able to be met in the school system where I live. Perhaps, perhaps, perhaps. I could go on, of course. Things change, people change. Sure, many faculty switch horses mid-stream for all the wrong reasons. Motivations vary. For you to characterize all such movement as "abhorrent", however, seems a bit strong. But perhaps you are now willing to walk back that original characterization and re-examine some of the premises upon which it was founded?

And just for fun I'll see your "Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius, or Aristotle" and raise you a Plotinus. He points out that it is possible, indeed necessary, for the body (= the external forces at work upon the lover) to undergo change without degrading the soul (= one's erotic relationship with lady philosophy). To suggest otherwise denies us our own humanity and the many commitments who which we owe others.

Anonymous said...

Jeeze...

Any job that makes you subjugate all of your needs to the boss is not a very good job. As a worker in the academic industry you don't have a right to take what you can get now, even if it isn't ideal and look for something better? Isn't that basic?

Also, why is it part of your "love of philosophy" that wanting to live somewhere with a nightlife or near friends and family is somehow a sickness:

"If you think place is so important to you, you either need to get over it, get therapy, or to get in a different field (albeit, such pathologies hurt you in private industry as well). You are going to be extraordinarily unhappy otherwise."

Really? I live in NYC and my life is pretty good because of it. Really.

It's sad that if you want to research in philosophy, you have to take such a crappy job. I had a hard time with the decision, but I left philosophy (I have a PhD) and now work in finance.

Jon Cogburn's "ethical" vitriol notwithstanding, I don't understand why anyone would let themselves be taken advantage of in this way, and I feel for all my friends who are staying in academia. I love philosophy, but not enough to lose my self-respect and freedom of choice about where I live, whom I marry and whether or not I want to change jobs.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:19 here.

Jon, regarding your points:

(2) I did not assume that your position requires that sacrifice go one direction in a marriage. It does, however, seem to me to (wrongly) suppose that the appropriate sacrifice is never for a philosopher to try to move her career for her partner's. I'm glad to see, though, that you agree with "Inside..." about those cases where *both* people are academics, or even both philosophers. (Though frankly the kind of employment doesn't seem that relevant; what seems relevant is if a particular career is equally important to both partners.)

(2) (You had two "2"'s. This is the second). You write: "If you don't love philosophy as much as you love place, you don't love philosophy enough to expect to be paid for it. There are too many good philosophers out there who love philosophy a lot more than you, and they deserve a job vastly more than your whiny self." First, who says we're talking about me, here? Second, the kind of job-seeker I was imagining is someone who loves both equally, or someone who loves philosophy and would stay in a less-than-desirable location for it, but who other things being equal still cares about non-philosophical things and would like to pursue philosophy in an environment that is conducive to those non-philosophical things. Third, when, exactly, did I whine? I don't think I said anything about my own situation at all, actually.

(3) "the gripe about place always involves massive amounts of bad faith masking the true and lasting causes of unhappiness." At least going by people I've seen, this is simply false. Sometimes people prefer living in different places, and then they move to the places they prefer, and then they are happier.

(4) The moral claim wasn't yours; it was in the original post. As for the other points, perhaps it's relevant here that I actually already have tenure. Also, I know several who moved - both laterally and vertically - pre-tenure, and all of them were made happier for it. They all had good (and different) reasons, and they all predicted correctly that they would be happier in other jobs. While you're right that going on the market is unpleasant, those that I have intimate knowledge of did not do so to the detriment of their then-current jobs. They excelled at those jobs (which is probably not unrelated to why they were successful at moving on). And, again, what did I say that shows me to be a "winger"?

(5) You wrote: "Unless you are a star, equity pay raises will even out the difference between your raise and your colleagues in any case, and all you did was show everybody that you are a tool (note that private industry is actually much *less* forgiving about this practice; you should only apply at places where you genuinely want to go, and either just take the job or not)." But private industry is justified in taking this stance, as it rewards merit. In just about every academic institution I'm aware of (and of course yours might be different, but what I'm about to say is not a hasty generalization), merit pay is small to nonexistent. Equity pay raises are small and infrequent. People who go on the market and get raises eventually earn far more than those who don't but are equally qualified for them (again, I know of several institutions where this is the case). This is a crappy situation, I agree, but it is the situation, and it's hard to criticize people who recognize it and act accordingly. Your anger should be targeted at incompetent administrators and state legislators with messed up priorities, not at philosophers who are trying to make the best of working under such people. Being in a crappy employment environment but loving philosophy does not mean one should give up or avoid criticizing the environment or simply take all the punishment (that's why we love this blog!). It means one should do what one can within the constraints of that environment, so long as the benefits outweigh the costs and the rights override the wrongs.

"Finally": "...if you are Assistant, you should just do the best job you can in terms of teaching, service, research, and collegiality. Going on the market year after year undermines all four of these. It's also an insult to people who really need the employment." The fact is, many people who move on are *not* given offers without going on the market; going on the market is required to improve one's position in many cases. Why is doing so an insult to those who need the employment? Those who go on the market aren't taking *two* jobs; they're just switching jobs, leaving one there for people who "really need the employment."

You also write that PGOAT and others sacrifice a ton. Why assume that those seeking second jobs haven't as well? And you say, "Bad faith whining from people with already employed is simply preposterous in this context." Where, exactly, is the "bad faith whining" from people who want to improve their situation?

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that how much I love philosophy isn't relevant, but how good I am at philosophy is.

Plus a substantial amount of luck is involved, of course.

But departments don't care how much I love philosophy. They care how successful I am at it.

Jon Cogburn` said...

(1) I also cited Aristotle who explicitly states in the Nichomachean Ethics that a certain amount of leisure and physical well being are necessary for philosophy. Boethius to the contrary, obviously most people with zero free time (and I'm not talking about people who watch seven hours of T.V. a day), who are hungry, in pain, or threatened are not going to be doing good philosophy.

Most Assistant Professors who incessantly go on the market are none of the above though.

(2) The brunt of my advice is that if you are lucky enough to get tenure track, then do your best to get tenure there. As far as I can tell, this is what "inside the philosophy factory" did.

(3) With the possible exception of dishonestly stringing along other jobs to get a pay raise at your institution, I don't think this is an issue of what people owe to "the man." Rather it is prudential issue of how to get tenure and thrive as a human being.

(4) I didn't accuse the relative anon of whining in these posts. Rather, my point is that most of the people who constantly stay on the market even though they have what most would regard as decent jobs are whiners with suffering from unreasonable high self esteem. And in the context of so many unemployed philosophers this is morally grotesque.

(5) I did not intend to claim that less jobs were available because of the perpetually unsatisfied and raise seekers clogging up the interviews. My claim was about a sense of moral proportion, which in my experience is completely out of whack by these people. Look, if you don't think you are very lucky to land a tenure track job, then you have an unjustly inflated view of yourself. There are much better philosophers than you who end up programming computers or doing law.

(5) Anon 11:19, we just have dueling empirical claims here, and are not going to be able to adjudicate them here [well- we agree that there were two number (2)s on one of my posts and that I would make a terrible marriage counselor]. Moreover, since you are anonymous readers cannot decide for themselves who is likely to have more authority on these issues.

But here's a closing empirical thought. Assume that it does not hurt your reputation in the field to go on the market to get pay raises to go on the market year after year. Why are the defenders of these things staying anonymous? I realize the untenured, and those have a blog where they say things that might reflect on their institution, need anonymity. Also, if your claim is that it's morally just fine to string along other institutions to get a pay raise from your own, or morally just fine to accept a job with the intention of getting out as soon as possible, then by all means stay anonymous. But if your claim is that it is in one's prudential interest, then why stay anonymous?

Again, my strong advice is for people lucky enough to get tenure track jobs to focus on rocking out and getting tenure. In part because the market is so bad, it's very hard to get tenure anywhere, and (especially given the unlikelihood of getting anything else as well as the reputation you make for yourself) anything that might undermine that is just stupid.

If you've done a good enough job to get tenure somewhere, then by all means go on the market if you still want.

I'll let my detractors have the last word before I introduce even more tedium.

Anonymous said...

Anon 11:19 here again. Jon, I think we can all agree that those lucky enough to have TT jobs should try to get tenure at those jobs, and that if going on the market is going to jeopardize the pursuit of tenure, one should be wary of doing so.

That said, there are lots of folks out there who are capable of doing a stellar job in their current position and going on the market all the same. At least, this is something many of us have seen repeatedly. Many times departments are disappointed to lose their junior folks who are on the market precisely because they're doing such great jobs.

You write, "my point is that most of the people who constantly stay on the market even though they have what most would regard as decent jobs are whiners with suffering from unreasonable high self esteem. And in the context of so many unemployed philosophers this is morally grotesque." I agree that there's something wrong with thinking that you're so much better than everyone else that your decent job isn't good enough for you. And I don't know about "most people who constantly stay on the market." (Are these people who get second jobs but are looking for a third, fourth...? Or are they still in their first but can't seem to get traction on the market?) But I have seen many who have moved on, pre-tenure, who weren't like this. They had a chance to live nearer to their children, or have what they considered a better job, or live in a region (or country, or continent) they preferred, or have colleagues more up their alley, or substantially improve their (and their families') material position, and so on. And I know of no one who goes on the market each year just to get raises; the point is simply that many institutions require academics to do this once in awhile if they're going to get a substantial pay bump. And of those who do this, I don't know of many who weren't sincerely considering moving if need be, and who were just stringing the hiring departments along.

Regarding anonymity. (As an aside note that it's possible that it's both morally wrong and prudentially valuable to go on the market for a raise. FWIW, it's not that I don't think that there's anything wrong with seeking a raise on the market, but that in an environment where this is the only way to do it, it's hard to hold it against people who do. Also FWIW, I am not one of those people, and I struggled to compete with them.) I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm remaining anonymous here for the obvious reason: because of how my claims might be (incorrectly) perceived. The authors of this blog normally have what are to my mind perfectly reasonable claims; but I think they're right to preserve anonymity because they might be perceived as unreasonable, and this could hurt them in one way or another. Note that the hurt is not just in terms of getting jobs; there are many other opportunities in philosophy, and reputation matters for many of them. Feel free to disregard my claims if you're suspicious of my "authority."

Or, better yet, peruse a representative sample of CVs, see who has moved on pre-tenure, and see if you have reason to think that they didn't do so for any of the good reasons mentioned in the various comments here. Inferring that they did so just because they have inflated egos is, of course, hard to do without specific knowledge of them. Maybe you've had personal knowledge of many inflated-ego-job-seekers; I've had personal knowledge of many good-reason-job-seekers.

In any case, this discussion started off as an evaluation of people who *do* have good reasons, such as a preference for a different location, rather than people whose egos need stroking. Of course, the need for ego-stroking might sometimes be concealed by a person's stated desire for different geography, but that's not what we were talking about, which was whether people who want more than philosophy (like living in a certain location) should seek second jobs pre-tenure.

Himself said...

I knew someone would pick me up on this, so I shouldn't have used the name of a real state and real place, but my idea was Nebraska State = fake university, Bismarck, NE = fake location (there are other Bismarcks besides the ND one). In regards to main point, I'm not entirely sure what you're getting at. I should say though that I don't think you should take a job somewhere you don't want to live at all on the basis that maybe you can move along. However, I think it is reasonable (from a selfish perspective) to say that you'll take a job in X on the understanding that you will move on eventually (even if you then don't because you've married, bought a house and got tenure).

BTW, JC, I chose my grad school largely on the basis of location. I think the idea that a philosopher has to be divorced from their environment enough not to care where their ivory tower is located is profoundly disturbing, and does not make for good philosophy.

Here's a thought: if R1 schools stopped hiring people on TT elsewhere, then there wouldn't be a problem. But they hire a high proportion of their TT people from other schools. So yes, blame them.

Jon Cogburn said...

himself- You may disagree with me that philosophy should be one's overwhelming passion; that's a perfectly sensible view in a middle class age of professionalization. It has the massive advantage of not encouraging the irritating hubris that any of us are on a par with the greats.

But the view that philosophy being an overwhelming passion is "profoundly disturbing" and makes for bad philosophy is small-minded and historically ignorant. I don't think you really believe that.

I bow out with a bit of Kerouac for your edification- "They danced down the streets like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones that never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn..."

Joe Bob says check out "On the Road." It had a birthday this year.

Anonymous said...

Wow - an awful lot of squirreling on the "love of philosophy vs. love of place" thing here.

It seems to me that what Jon Cogburn said was obviously right. Sure, any non-invalid with remotely civilized tastes is going to prefer life in San Francisco to life in Bismark, and these mere affects taken _by themselves_ are certainly blameless. But part of being a real philosopher is the belief that your vocation can be practiced effectively anywhere where people have the leisure and curiosity to think about the big questions.

So what philosophers who get tenure track jobs in BFE and then immediately start fussing around to find a new position in coolsville are communicating by their actions is really this: fuck you, rural kids, I'm not going to use up an iota of extra time preparing decent lectures and getting into spontaneous conversations with you that I could be spending filling out application forms and writing yet more lovely "personal statements" to hurl off into the void of the job market. Well, yuck.

Anonymous said...

p.S. - Hey, "himself," I'll tell you one thing: if I was one of your prospective employers, and I read about your geographical fetishism and the repulsive cant about "ivory towers" that you've published here, your application would be slid to the bottom of the pile right quick. Damn good job you comment on here anonymously...

Anonymous said...

Jon Cogburn; given your views on TT faculty members applying for other jobs, can we assume that you have NEVER applied for a job since you were hired? If not, and you have, did you do it at least in part because you thought you would like to be somewhere other than where you are?

Also--and without naming names!--what's your department's history (say, over the last ten years) of retaining or losing junior faculty? Reading between the lines it seems that you're in a dept. where junior people routinely try to "escape" before being locked in by tenure--and I can see how being a senior person in such a department could sour you on junior people who look elsewhere, for whatever reason.

I think knowing these things might give some helpful context to your claims.

My own view is that there is NOTHING wrong with junior people applying elsewhere. Of course, if they treat every year as being on the market full-bore (i.e., sending out applications to every possible school that might hire them) then I'd think they're rather stange (or utterly desperate to leave where they are!) But being on the look-out for a better opportunity (either professional, such as a department that is a better fit, or personal, such as a department that's nearer one's home, or in a better location) simply seems sensible. And sending out, say, between none and ten applications each year until tenure won't be especially time-consuming at all, so to hold that being on the market precludes one from being a productive faculty member is just false, IMHO. And, of course, as someone else noted, one's situation might change. If you're single, living in BFE could be mitigated by doing a lot more philosophy; if you then have children, you might want to move to give them educational and cultural opportunities BFE doesn't offer. And to claim (and I realise that JC didn't *explicitly* do this) that a willingness to move for this reason is indicative of an overly-weak commitment to philosophy strikes me as being extremely narrow-minded.

Anonymous said...

"If you don't love philosophy as much as you love place, you don't love philosophy enough to expect to be paid for it. There are too many good philosophers out there who love philosophy a lot more than you..."

Apparently, Jon, you don't love philosophy enough to avoid such an obvious philosophical error. ;-) And that's not even to mention the debatable material claims made....

Jon Cogburn said...

Anon 7:02, thanks!

Anon 7:49, your extraordinarily distinctive writing idiosyncrasies (all those years of studying linguistics really have payed off for me in ways big and small) as well as all the stuff you obsess about (i.e. the south sucks, it's justifiable to string other departments along so that the job offer results in a pay raise in your home department, bad advice to the vast majority of junior faculty that lack your astounding networking genius, etc.) give me a remarkable sense of de ja vu!

I thought you'd gotten early tenure at the place you went to. Do I have this wrong? Why the anonymity (which I hope you notice I respect)?

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:05 --

I'm with himself here. I don't think himself has displayed anything fetishistic or repulsive. There's more to life than philosophy (I say this as someone who has devoted half of his life to philosophy, who regularly can't sleep at night because he's thinking about philosophy, and who -- when he does sleep -- often dreams about philosophy), and sometimes it turns out that, on the whole, one would be happier, say, in a better city and a slightly worse department than in a worse city and a slightly better department. Anyone who would begrudge me the desire to be happy, or who would think me a traitor to the cause of philosophy for pursuing what I take to be my happiness, is not someone who strikes me as human.

-- That Guy

Anonymous said...

"all those years of studying linguistics really have payed off for me"

Indeed?

Anonymous said...

Hey anon 10:22!

"Anyone who would begrudge me the desire to be happy, or who would think me a traitor to the cause of philosophy for pursuing what I take to be my happiness, is not someone who strikes me as human.
"

Wow, for someone who has 'devoted his life to philosophy,' you sure are an easy mark for a version of ethical egoism so gruesomely primitive it'd make Herbert Spencer blush.

Anonymous said...

Anon 3:38 --

I'm not espousing general moral principles, primitive or egoistical or otherwise, here. I'm just saying that, if someone can't understand why I might prefer to live in a better city (closer to loved ones, say) even if it means being in a less good department, then I don't understand them. Or maybe I understand them but I don't want to talk to them. In any case, I have little patience for them and even less interest in being judged by them.

-- That Guy

Anonymous said...

That Guy--

I think people might understand why you want to live in certain places, they just don't think that you should be in philosophy if you have those preferences. Which is weird.

Anonymous said...

I really like it when other people tell me that I shouldn't be in philosophy. "Professor with tenure at a Leiter-ranked department who publishes regularly in good journals and cares a lot about his students" -- that sounds like a description of the sort of person we really ought to encourage to leave the profession.

-- That Guy

DG Contractarian said...

Gauthier already told us.. 'the market is a morality free zone'

Jon Cogburn said...

I'm laying low on this blog, but since Anon's jab is now googleable, here goes.

Anon- I am severely dyslexic, and this leads to spelling errors. I don't mind if you mock me about this. Feel free to call me by my childhood nickname "noj," since that's how I wrote my name for much of my life. But please refrain from saying illiterate things about linguistics.

For your information- None of the linguistics graduate classes I took (whether on phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, or pragmatics) had spelling Bs. Perhaps you are confusing the academic study of language with what you did in fourth grade? Also, maybe I'm just lucky, but in none of my publications touching on linguistics have any of the editors rejected the article based on the ubiquity of homonym based spelling errors in my drafts.

If you mean that spelling errors are evidence that I missed the recognizable linguistic tropes of the ex-colleague of mine who doles out awful life and job advice to members of this blog, I really don't want to discuss this. I have a moral obligation to respect my ex-colleague's anonymity (though, again, if he was right that taking his advice doesn't hurt you in the field, one would suspect that he would not need to hide behind anonymity in doling it out). In any case, I'm not the only linguistically trained philosopher reading this blog.

Sorry for going on about this. Everybody here is doing what they can with what they've got. Having experienced both a childhood on the short bus and the philosophy job market, I can authoritatively write that the job market is much rougher in every way. This being said, I might misspell some words in the process of doing so.