Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

According to the Times, our happy days of being surrounded by like-minded lefties up here in our cozy Ivory Tower are numbered. This is because, unlike our radical Boomer predecessors, apparently we young 'uns are basically just a bunch of apathetic Republicans:
Baby boomers, hired in large numbers during a huge expansion in higher education that continued into the ’70s, are being replaced by younger professors who many of the nearly 50 academics interviewed by The New York Times believe are different from their predecessors — less ideologically polarized and more politically moderate.
Wow. Nearly 50 people, eh? That's like totally significant, Times interviewers. Truly a marvel of social scientific research you've given us here. Pft. Whatthefuckever. Kiss my progressive ass.

As PJMB friend RM pointed out to me this afternoon, buried in the article is this gem:
More than 54 percent of full-time faculty members in the United States were older than 50 in 2005, compared with 22.5 percent in 1969.
In other words, the majority of professors are OLDS. Olds who won't retire and give us their damn jobs. But what's more, they're olds who get more crusty and politically conservative with every passing year. And then turn around and blame us for being the reason academia is no longer sufficiently radical for their tastes.

You know what'd be guaranteed to make me radical as all hell? Tenure.



Anonymous said...

Just wondering if anyone has any thoughts about/experience of independent scholars (ie. PhDs who do not go on to be employed by universities but successfully publish good quality work, of the book and peer reviewed journal type.) For some reason, I sceptical about the idea, and question the likelihood that good research is ever much produced by such non-university employed individuals.

But why? Of course, the lack of income would be a huge deterrent for entering such a life; it would be difficult/impossible to produce research if you had to do other work for more than 10-20 hours a week (which is what a teaching load can amount to anyway). But if you were willing to be poor, then why couldn't it work?

The only thing I can think of, is that employment and the associated pressure to publish (to retain your job and acceptance within the philosophical community) provides an important impetus. But if motivation is just the issue, then it shouldn't be totally impossible to succeed academically outside the university.

In total, it doesn't seem that being employed by a university satisfies any necessary conditions for academic success - though it sure makes life a lot easier. So why aren't there any successful independent scholars? Why is (good) philosophy restricted to academia?
I would love some opinions.

PS. I guess such an individual would likely have to self-fund going to conferences and the like, to help refine their papers/ideas. (And conferences can be expensive... obviously.) But I guess the importance of conferences/philosophical peer interaction depends upon how useful they are in improving potential publications. I would say they can be very useful... What do people think?

Anonymous said...

Presumably a big hurdle for the "independent scholar" is a lack of intellectual community. Sadly for those who (like me) are unlikely to get a job in more research-oriented departments, this is probably true for a lot of academics as well. Philosophy, at least when done well, generally requires conversation with other really bright philosophers, folks who will point out holes in your arguments. I imagine spending much time writing without this sort of feedback leads to work that is often weak and self-indulgent.

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that there's no significant advantage in conducting philosophy while carrying, say, a 2/2 teaching load than being an independent scholar who is also holding down a job, assuming the job is not a high-stress one that requires a lot of overtime, etc. The advantage would be with a research-only position or a very light teaching load, neither of which is the norm. Indeed, non-academic jobs may pay better than a faculty job, so whatever university support one might get could very well be self-funded.

Take Julian Baggini (editor of The Philosopher's Magazine and author of a number of books), for instance:

He seems to be doing some decent philosophy, if not better than most of what I've seen from university faculties.

As for intellectual community, it may be a tad more difficult to get some philosopher to speak at length with you about your work, but probably not much more difficult than for academic insiders. Those indulgent chats are afforded in a graduate program setting with other students, but not so much with employed, busy faculty.

Anonymous said...

it would be difficult/impossible to produce research if you had to do other work for more than 10-20 hours a week

There do exist philosophers with 4-4 loads and families who published two or three papers last year.

Anonymous said...

here's a hypothesis: it's just unlikely that someone would become an independent scholar in the first place. Any potential independent scholar (PIS) either has a Ph.D. in philosophy, or else does not. If the PIS doesn't have a Ph.D, then she is unlikely to produce any worthwhile scholarship, for obvious reasons.

If the PIS has a Ph.D, then either the PIS attempted to find employment as a philosophy professor, or else she didn't. If she didn't try to get a job, then it was probably because she lost interest in philosophy for whatever reason--nobody I know who earned a Ph.D. but didn't go on the market had any interest in becoming an independent scholar.

If the PIS went on the market but was unsuccessful, she was probably so fed up and hurt by the experience that philosophy scholarship has been ruined for her forever. Anyone who has gotten to the point of giving up on the job market has probably gotten to the point of giving up on philosophy altogether--everyone I know who got to one point got to the other at the same time.

Furthermore, the arbitrary and capricious nature of the job market notwithstanding, Ph.D.s who are likely to produce worthwhile scholarship are likely to end up with an academic position *if they are persistent.* So I suspect that there just aren't very many paths that lead to independent scholarship.

Anonymous said...

I think 4:10 makes a good point, though I personally know some philosophers who simply didn't want to accept a job in corn-town and so either left the tenure track jobs that they did have (in one case at an _extremely_ competitive SLAC) or didn't accept the jobs they were offered. I can think of at least three such research-productive individuals without batting an eye. Two live in San Francisco (which is very suited to them) and one continues to live in corn-town but works in finance, and thus has a lucrative business career. I think he also gives relationship reasons for his move away from the tenure track.

Come to think of it, I can think of several other productive philosophy PhDs who have left the academic grind to do whatever the fuck they've wanted to do. Sometimes they go on to write more popular material. Sometimes they go into publishing. Sometimes they go into changing the world for the better. And I think in all of the cases that I'm thinking of, it was neither frustration nor abandonment that had these people leaving, just a desire to do something different. What's impressive is that they're still engaged with the philosophical community in their own ways; and while I hate to speak on their behalf, I get the sense from some of them that they experience mild agitation at not being taken seriously by their academic peers _just because they don't have an academic affiliation_. That's the bitter pill they swallow, not being poor, unsuccessful or unproductive.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Zero,'re conclusion is that there are no independent scholars out there with PhDs?

I know Julian Baggini and other independent scholars. If your hypothesis is your attitude, then that's part of why it may be more difficult for such scholars to engage the intellectual, or at least academic, community, absent any reason related to merit.

Anonymous said...

I've been on the 'independent scholar' track for a few years now and here are some experiences and comments for what they are worth.

Btw, I strongly disagree with mr zero that anyone giving up on the job market has to give up on philosophy altogether. In my opinion what counts is to set yourself a limit after which you start pursuing other interests (yes, we're the ones not counted as 'failures' on departmental websites - we left 'voluntarily'), and then stick to it. Find out where your personal level of tolerance lies: one shot at 'the market'? Two?

Don't set yourself a limit, and that's when the problems start - you hang around too long in no mans land between PhD in hand and non-existent job. Btw, universities make a lot of money in this niche - read 'How the University Works' for more information and return enlightened. From my point of view, no thinking person should willingly spend more than about 12 months in that particular circle of hell. But I digress.

The reason there are not that many independent scholars is because its hard, and you need a level of motivation that transcends 'making a career' out of philosophy. You've got to want to make a difference, and that is harder than making a 'career'.

Having said all that, my personal rules of success are:

1. Make sure to get a day job you like and one that pays well. The biggest mistake you can make in this game-ever-is to sign up for a day job you don't like. If you sign up for a day job you hate, or find just OK-ish and try to do that 10-20 hours a week to just bring some cash in, well, just don't count on getting any academic work done. At all.

2. Getting to a day job you like takes time and effort. You probably won't get too much academic work done the first five or six years (!) after starting this path, since you're too busy working your way up to where you want to be. After you have successfully built that second career, you can return from 40+ hours / week work to something less than that to have some time for research. In my case, it took about 10 years to start publishing again.

3. Arrange access and borrowing rights with a good university library from day one. Try for something like honorary appointments, or find a job in administration or similar that ensures you have access to a good academic library. This includes online access to journals.

4. Remind yourself that Spinoza ground lenses for a living. Many other great philosophers from the past weren't tenured professors either. Many tenured professors were / are mediocre philosophers.

5. As a rule, don't bother with conferences. They don't get any work done (see second half of point 4) and you don't have the time and money to waste. Conferences are for building careers, not ideas. Conferences can be nice if they fit in with your schedule already (i.e. work (day job!) travel or a day or two tacked on to a holiday). A growth area here will be imho the online conferences that are up on the experimental philosophy blog and I'm keeping a close eye on those.

6. Stick to topic. With the freedom of not having to satisfy HoDs and Deans that a sufficient amount of 'stuff' is 'in the works' ready to pad out the departmental CV for when the auditors (or Brian Leiter) come calling, you are in danger of straying far and wide. Reread rule 2, and enjoy that while it lasts.

With that little bit of preaching over, consider the rewards. You don't have to run in the academic rat race anymore, you can publish what you like, when you like, where you like. For me, the biggest advantage was being able to read philosophy without thoughts of having to turn what I do into a paper right then and there. You can have a life, kids, do some gardening, even of the 'at night' (btw: read that post! especially the end!) variety now and then, and use those rare moments of inspiration, when they come, to your best advantage.

Anonymous said...

Hi, It's 9:05 here again. Thank you so much for your comments.

I agree with Mr Zero that in general, there are not many paths that lead to independent scholarship. If someone were not able to get into a reasonably good PhD program, or could not or would not persevere to the degree required to get any sort of academic position (even a really crap one with a horrible teaching load) then I would be sceptical about their ability and motivation to succeed at being an independent scholar. So I mostly agree with Mr Zero there.

I am on track to receive a PhD from a top 20 university, and believe I have a reasonable chance at eventually getting a teaching position of some sort. But I can also get part time work of a sort that I enjoy, and that pays per hour better than most academic positions would pay. So obviously, it being part time work, I would be financially worse off. But I really don't care about that - I just want to do philosophy, and produce the best philosophical work that I can. And I don't want to have to put up with all the politics and crap that an academic teaching position loads onto you, especially early in your career.

My main concern is that pursuing this independent scholar route, I will put myself at a disadvantage, with regard to the quality of scholarship that I could produce; either through lack of community, or through difficulties in having my work recognised (presuming it is of quality) or even published because of the lack of university affiliation. If having my work recognised, critique and challenged by good scholars (say through publishing and presenting at conferences) is necessary for producing good work, then I might be at a disadvantage.

What do you all think?

I agree that both motivation and sticking to the topic are potential issues, but I am not too worried about them (at this point in time).

Anonymous said...'re conclusion is that there are no independent scholars out there with PhDs?

No. Look at all the 'probably's, for crying out loud.

My point was that, for a variety of reasons, most of the ways people become scholars don't involve becoming independent scholars, so most scholars, with or without Ph.D.s are not independent. I think that's demonstrably true and is consistent with the obvious fact that there are independent scholars with Ph.D.s.

I also didn't intend to imply any value judgment about independent scholarship. I think if you read the post carefully you'll see that I don't have an "attitude." It was just a hypothesis about why there aren't a lot of independent scholars.

I strongly disagree with mr zero that anyone giving up on the job market has to give up on philosophy altogether.

I didn't say that. I said I thought it was likely that if you gave up on the job market you probably would give up on philosophy. I didn't suggest that there is a necessary connection.

Look, I didn't mean to come off as though I disapprove of independent scholarship. I don't. There's a question on the table: why aren't there more independent scholars? I tried to propose a hypothesis that explains the facts--that there aren't many independent scholars--and which fits with my (limited) experience--that people usually don't burn out halfway.

Anonymous said...

Is it harder to get published as a so-called "independent scholar"?

I've seen exactly one philosophy book by an independent scholar, and only just recently... although it looked like a really good book.

I've never seen a journal article credited to someone outside a university. Although, I have seen a paper (in JPhil!) by someone who left a tenured position, moved to a different country, started his own company, an yet tacked on the name of his former university at the end of his paper.(In fairness though, JPhil can take a long time to publish articles.)

Anonymous said...


Whether they are just or not, I think it is almost impossible to deny that it is vastly harder to get published, harder to get taken seriously, and MUCH harder (basically impossible) to rejoin professional academia later if you have no academic affiliation.

Plus, if you have a Ph.D. in philosophy from a decent place, it is really very easy indeed to maintain some professional academic affiliation. Teach one class a year as an adjunct, or whatever. Do it online if you don't live near a university. (They will love you for it.) Decent tenure-track jobs are very hard to get (obviously) but *some* university affiliation is very easy to get.

So my advice is, if you're happy with your part-time job and also want to do philosophy and be taken seriously, just get yourself some affiliation and don't be an 'independent scholar'. If you're working part-time you can certainly afford the time to teach a class here and there. If teaching a class for a few thousand bucks sounds so horribly burdensome to you that you are not willing to do it in order to avoid all the problems that come with true 'independent' status, then I suggest that your love of philosophy is not really serious enough to worry about this issue anyhow.

PLease notice that I have not said one thing about whether independent scholarship can actually be good, should be challenging in this way, etc. I'm just being a pragmatist about this. I don't see any reason at all for anyone with the qualifications to do decent philosophy in the first place (which you obviously have) to struggle to be an independent scholar when it's so easy not to be. If someone happens to luck into such a situation and it's what s/he wants, then goodie for that person.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, PGOAT. That article made me mad enough to spit.

Another Progressive Junior Woman Philosophy Professor

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's 8.08 again.

Yes, I agree with a number of the later posts that you need to arrange a university affiliation of some sort. As tenured philosophy girl said, an affiliation is not that hard to get.

From my point of view, you primarily need one for library access, and for publishing purposes. I tried to get that point across in my preaching point 3 - and it is important.

Maybe this affiliation makes you no longer an independent scholar, but hey. I still think of myself as independent (no money changes hands between me and my department).

Mr Zero - I think I had an issue with your comment: "If the PIS went on the market but was unsuccessful, she was probably so fed up and hurt by the experience that philosophy scholarship has been ruined for her forever."

As I pointed out, I think the key is to have a limit to your tries on the market. My personal limit was two temporary gigs, and I stuck to that. So yes, I was unsuccessful, but your implication was not true for me.

As the original 9.05 pointed out in the 9.54 post, there are other rational reasons why one would pursue independent scholarship.

And my advice to her / him would be to get some sort of university affiliation for library access and ease of publishing, and then get some work done.

Anonymous said...

i can has sunday robot cartoon???

Anonymous said...

Presumably, one key disadvantage in being an independent scholar is the interrelationship between your research and your teaching. For instance, you can try out arguments, etc. in your courses, or you can design courses around your research--killing two birds with one stone, as it were.

An outside job, in contrast, offers little or no synergies with your research. In fact, it may be so dissimilar to philosophy that it's distracting, i.e., you need to make some effort to change gears to focus on philosophy.

But perhaps this disadvantage is compensated for if the outside job pays well enough. Then, you would need to overcome the institutional bias against independent scholars.

Anonymous said...

I'm actually on the tenure track now (year two) and am thinking about getting off on the next stop. There's too much department and university b.s. to deal with. I just want to do philosophy. So being an independent scholar is looking more attractive to me.

Can anyone here point me to successful indep. scholars in philosophy (other than Julian Baggini as previously noted)?

Good advice, 8:08, by the way.

Anonymous said...

George Reisch is a good example. I believe he works as a technical writer, and has a book with Cambridge on HOPOS

Also, I _believe_ that Fred Beiser was an IS when he wrote "fate of reason". But I could be wrong about this.

Anonymous said...

damn, this discussion is the most depressing thing i've ever read on PJMB...

Anonymous said...

If the job market and academia are as horrible as many here (and elsewhere) have made them out to be, then it makes perfect sense to talk about ways to increase independent scholarship. So why is this depressing?

Anonymous said...

First time I really disagree with Mr. Zero. "Ph.D.s who are likely to produce worthwhile scholarship are likely to end up with an academic position *if they are persistent.*"

There are plenty of career paths that might be more interesting to a good researcher than a faculty slot at a poor school in the boonies with a 4-4 load. People on the cognitive science side are particularly likely to work in computer-related or health-science fields, for example, that pay well and are intellectually challenging, and might even allow employees some encouragement (or, less often, support) for research. Some lawyers also publish with some regularity, as do some people in finance/economics fields. And some of these folks have PhDs in philosophy or closely-related fields. Moving outside philosophy, I see plenty of research in linguistics, religious studies, history, and anthropology conducted by independent scholars, and philosophical research often requires fewer resources (primary sources, time for fieldwork, etc.) than most of these disciplines.

The hardest part of being an independent scholar is lack of library resources. It used to be that a weekend trip to a major public university would go a long way, but as universities cut back on print journals, it's getting increasingly difficult for folks who can get physical access to libraries but not online access to journals and indices (a lot of my research time in recent years has been spent in Philosopher's Index, Web of Science, etc., trying to keep up with trends in research).

I'll point out that much of the best early modern philosophy was done outside universities, and many of the greatest scholars (Einstein, AE Housman) spent some time as independent scholars, then moved back into universities after publishing.

Anon 8:08: I find conferences are great for keeping motivated. I've presented every 2-3 years but often it's better to go to sessions, catch up with friends in TT jobs, etc. and only present when I have something in the works and find it's helpful to my own work to get feedback. BTW, I don't know how you put everything on hold for 10 years then picked it up. My advice would be: keep some research trajectory even if it's modest throughout the new career or it'll be much much harder to pick it up again.

Anon 9:54: Independent scholars are often in a position to produce _better_ research than they would as standing faculty, because they can publish when they're ready not when they need to. That may mean they publish _less_, but I don't think of that as a tradeoff. A lot of academics view the quality of a CV as dependent on the number of publications, because that's how tenure committees look at it: at one school you need a book (or two) for tenure, at another three papers in six years, but as long as it's peer-reviewed, from a good press, whatever, there's often little further assessment of its quality. As an independent scholar you don't have to play such games, you don't have to break research into MPUs (mimimum publishable units) etc and this fact might account in part for academics' feeling that independent scholars tend not to be as good as academic ones: they don't play by the same rules.

(There are also a lot of poor or fake scholars who publish witchcraft through vanity presses and they often show up high on Google searches and the like, and that tends to hurt the repuations of reputable scholars who don't have academic appointments.)

As for Mr. Zero's later post: I think you'll find increasing numbers of good independent scholars in coming years. When higher ed was a growth industry, yes, most scholars in the humanities ended up teaching in universities. Now I think we're going more towards that early modern model, that universities actively discourage quality research, and the many good scholars in teaching jobs produce despite the system rather than because they're a part of it (notice the scope of my quantification before you complain about the last sentence, everyone).

TPG: you're mixing apples and oranges. The main question, I think, is about how to produce good scholarship without departmental affiliation. If you write good stuff, you can get it published. If your concern is with reputation among academic scholars (which is what I think your "being taken seriously" must mean, because it can't mean simply "being a good researcher") or rejoining academia, then yes, life as a long-term independent scholar isn't a good choice. And I think the idea of taking precious free time to teach a course at a local college is silly, if the main goal is to have an affiliation after your name when you do publish. I'd rather teach because I love teaching, or to access to library resources, and otherwise spend my free time on my research. DON'T BECOME AN INDEPENDENT SCHOLAR IF YOU CARE ABOUT WHAT YOUR FRIENDS IN TEACHING CAREERS THINK, yinz.

Anon 6:06 (re: "an outside job, in contrast, offers little or no synergies with your research"): it all depends on the job. Regardless of your field (applied ethics, logic, soc/pol, science, religion, language, etc.) you can probably think of jobs that impinge upon it.

(Big post because I'm late to the debate, sorry. I've been busy on my research over the weekend.)

Anonymous said...

Let me sum up the independent scholar nonsense.

1) Can you be one (and a good one at that)? Of course you can, my dears.

2) Will you be a good one (and a good one at that)? Of course not. The Vegas odds on this one tell me to bet the family farm on this.

Sorry. I don't expect to see Joe or Jane Sixpack rockin Mind or JPhil anytime soon (not unless you got some major trustfundage bankrollin' your side projects). Although I will be happy to publish your hopelessly sloppy and out of date treatise for a meager sum. Mwahahahaha!

Anonymous said...

According to my uni library website, anyone from the community can gain access, which includes electronic access to journals (from within the library building - not from home computers) for a couple hundred dollars a year. So university affiliation is not entirely necessary for that purpose... maybe its a different story for other locations though.

7:37 - I think that this discussion would only be depressing if being an independant scholar was a last resort. Otherwise the possibility seems quite exciting and liberating; ie. from the idea that people absolutely MUST live within the 'academy' - be at the mercy of your employing university - in order to be able to do good philosophy.

8:47 is right - for those who dislike the job market, we should be trying to increase the viability of independant scholarship.

Anonymous said...

8:01 - perhaps there are more/greater challenges to be faced by an independent scholar than there are for those tenured (eg. financial, motivation, sticking on track with research and maybe there would be less quality control measures in place for the IS) BUT:

1. Being university employed does not necessarily help you with being motivated (to produce good work) nor do you necessarily have more time to reasearch than someone with a part time, non-academic job; hence the crap that lots of university employed academics push out.

2. We cannot say that people who give independent scholarship a really good go (however you can measure that) have a low chance at producing good scholarship because

(a) there are so few people who profess to have given it a really good go, and

(b) there are so few independent scholars at all (from which it does not follow that many failed)

Also - I could be getting myself into trouble by saying this but here goes... it is possible that of all the people who are successful in philosophy (produce good scholarship), the proportion of 'successful' academics who did their PhD's at 'top' universities/prestigious philosophy departments (however this might be judged - dare I suggest - leiter ranked departments?) is greater than the proportion of the entire pool of university employed philosophers who did their studies at such 'top' universities. [Hope that makes sense cause I don't have time to rewrite] Therefore people who are likely to produce good philosophy have a greater chance of being employed by a university and less need to revert to independent scholarship. So, even if there were a substantial number of independent scholars, it might be expected that the overall quality of scholarship would be less than that produced by those in universities. This would not however, indicate that independent scholarship itself is the problem. On the other hand, if a great proportion of the people who entered the path of IS did not do so because they were unable to get a job, then this phenomenon might be less perceptable. (Of course, there are other things which could put an I. scholar at a disadvantage.)

Anonymous said...

Responding to the above argument: perhaps there is a greater proportion of people from 'top' universities in the philosophers-who-are-successful set because those who graduate from top universities are more likely to get a job more conducive to producing good research. So, it may not be that there is a greater proportion of people less likely to succeed in the group of those who enter into independent scholarship than those who are university employed.

Anonymous said...

A question I hardly hear asked, and would love to have some input on: What happens to people who don't get tenured? And how often does that happen?

Anonymous said...

You don't see much really good work from independent scholars since most people who can produce good work have TT jobs.

I'd guess that only the top 5% of people in the with full time TT jobs produce really new and interesting work, and the other 95% of us, if we are producing work at all, do so since (1. we are interested in the subject, and 2. its part of our job).

The job market is certainly far from perfect, but its not so imperfect that the top 5% of the field (who represent probably the top 2% of graduate students) typically can't find work. Those who can't find work are like the remaining 95% of us who, while they can produce competent work, aren't really producing stuff that we really need to see published, and without its being part of their job, its hard to see them taking their time with it.

Seriously, the vast majority of stuff I see in journals (including my own work) strikes me as fine, but not such that I could see someone who wasn't employed in the profession spending their getting it out.

Anonymous said...

Cut the cord, people. If you're not getting paid, do something else. There's a big wide world out there.

Anonymous said...

Another independent scholar who does excellent work in metaphysics and philosophy of religion (among other areas): William Vallicella

Used to teach somewhere in Tennessee (tenure-track, I believe), and then got tired of the extracurricular nonsense and left...Still does very good work, I think.

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't you have to count 'think tanks' as employing independent scholar-types, such as And don't forget about all the bioethics centers. Seems to be a good alternative to the academy, without having to take a job totally unrelated to philosophy.

Anonymous said...

Oops, I meant in the above post. My bad.

Anonymous said...

Think tanks, for sure; but You are kidding, right?

Anonymous said...

Speaking of think tanks, which ones would likely employ a philosopher (who's steeped in political theory, etc., but not so much on actual law or policy)?

Anonymous said...

Hey, Ayn Rand was one of these here in-dee-pen-dent scholars we have been yucking about. Lord knows that crazy shit set the standard pretty high.

Anonymous said...

True dat, 5:40 anon-a-bomb.

Anonymous said...

Ayn Rand? LOL! Pleeeease give me a break.

Anonymous said...

I've had a number of great progressive professors in Washington state, including The Evergreen State College. I hope professors who are progressive continue to teach in colleges. They're great.


Anonymous said...

I wonder whether Leiter's job market prognostication is based on a good deal of inside information or is just his guess based on what everybody knows about the economy.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one confused by Leiter's abstruse talk about the market.

Who are the girls? How do I invite them to smile? Do I coo in the cover letter, or do I let my adviser do it for me?

Yet today in the market
Among the vegetables
Two beautiful little girls
The first in a shopping basket
Whom I invite to smile
Who almost does
A second tiny in a carrier
Pressed close to her mother
Who worries over to tell me
That she's shy
I beg to differ
Cooing at them both

Anonymous said...

Ask the average college graduate whether they've heard of Ayn Rand vs., say, John Rawls. I'll bet you any amount of money that more have heard of Ayn Rand. Now, that's not the litmus test for success as an independent scholar (I personally don't consider her as a 'philosopher'), but it does say something about success you might find independently, even if not academic respect.

Also, as pointed out ealrier, Einstein, et al. were indy scholars.

Anonymous said...

Einstein? He was an independent scholar a hundred years ago! Hardly a relevant case now...

Anonymous said...

Also, Einstein didn't stay independent.

Anonymous said...

I was talking about Herbert Einstein, Big Al's semi-autistic philosopher nephew who currently lives in Duluth and has three nipples. Duh.

Anonymous said...

Re the post's disparaging reference to "olds":
As someone born in 1957, i venture to suggest that while i may be older than you, i am not "old".

Anonymous said...

u r old + out of touch

ur pal,


"because it sounds like skeet skeet skeet"