Position: Philosophy professional
Working hours: 100%
Vacancy reference: PHIL-2020/001
Starting date: As soon as possible
Closing date: Tomorrow
Philosophy today is radically different from the enterprise that burst onto the world scene some millennia ago. A poor counterfeit of the tool that helped the great Peseshet transform death from a minor inconvenience into existence’s central object. A stand-in at best to the majesty who visited Boethius’ cell when he was doing time for conspiracy to overthrow government. Philosophy’s trademark questions about the nature and purpose of reality, blisteringly general, have vanished like a speaker’s sense of self-worth after a rough Q&A session. Such piercing queries are now routinely outsourced to unicorn start-ups with baffling brand identities, such as Mathematics, Chemistry or Sociology. Forget busying yourself with queries such as ‘What is?’ (the contract for which has been won by Physics), ‘What is life?’ (which went to Biology), ‘What just happened?’ (to History). Instead, in our current age Philosophy holds the magnificent, hassle-free position of having no longer any peculiar domain of enquiry whatsoever.
Our vision for Philosophy is to embrace this lack of a dedicated subject matter. It is Philosophy’s main positive trait, our unique selling point. Absolved from any concern about trifles such as reality, truth, or how things actually are, we see a distinct opportunity to flood the marketplace of ideas with free-floating, unhinged reflection on matters that in most cases could not be so resolved, or do not allow for an answer in the first place. Our mission is to take philosophy’s new-found liberties to the next stage by promoting our occupational freedom as well, on the ‘Netflix for academia’ model; a future of the Academy as a Service (AaaS).
We are now recruiting a barefaced philosophy professional who can push through the inevitable challenges and pressures this path requires, and who will exhibit a strong commitment to our core values of performance of genius, argument, and intellectual conformity to join us on this exciting journey.
About the role
The successful applicant will be providing independent philosophical services at our newly refurbished Philosophy Service Unit, which is part of our tightly curated portfolio of offerings in regular on-demand intellectual productions. The person appointed will report to the line manager.
The area of specialisation for this position is open. The role will require the employment of near-average mastery of philosophy’s trademark technical operations—or, as officials at the Career Service call it, good old ‘transferable skills’. These will include the ability to analyse complex texts, draw some in- ferences, build arguments … or more generally, to apply one’s superior logical gaze to any random subject matter whatsoever, unhampered by anything so unbearably dull as actual familiarity with whatever one is reflecting upon.
A strategic priority associated with this position, building on glories from the past, is to keep the discipline of philosophy away from concerns with trivia such as contingent fact and forecast. Instead, we have been able to successfully monetise the brilliant concoction (if we may say so) that there are such things ‘concepts’. It has taken us prolonged campaigns by philosophy influencers with the right audience demographic, brand alignment, and publish-to-conversion rate to promote this model (not to mention continued efforts to mute the psychologists on the subject). We are now proud to project that for the period 2020–2045 we will continue to sustain high follower loyalty for the position that ‘concepts’ (whatever they might be) can be investigated absent any historical, contextual, or social awareness, but simply by applying a stern, dictionary-infused look of logic—or, dare we say, a-na-ly-sis? The real killer is that audiences gulp the idea that any of this could actually be informative about anything beyond the individual speculator’s idiosyncrasies.
What you will do
The successful applicant is expected to carve out a position in logical space on any phenomenon that takes their fancy. Topics associated with intellectual trends dredged up from other disciplines about two decades after their ‘consume by’-date, or material already covered to gags by other philosophers—fellows currently breathing or long-deceased, it matters not—would be most welcome, as long as they are repackaged with a gentle word shuffle to make sure they align with our brand.
The position will involve writing up speculations in article form using recognisably academic formalisations, half-page footnotes, sauced with abundant in-crowd technical slang, and novelty terms where appropriate. The main aim here is to keep revenue streams of friendly for-profit academic publishers going by submitting these scribblings for publication to journals guarded by a paywall so high that at most two committed colleagues may venture to climb them, and with a bundle subscription that smilingly squeezes the last drop of life out of institutional library budgets already on life-support. (See: bit.ly/preferredsuppliers for our list of eligible outlets.)
In addition, we must keep room bookings and catering satisfied by organising and participating in professional séances (occasionally these are called ‘conferences’ or ‘talks’), where hour-long ceremonies of monotonous incantation pass for a position statement. The subsequent acts of what the feeble minded may call collective ritual humiliation, in which the speaker ‘fight[s] for the life’ of their ideas, are really only just opportunities to help colleagues see that sponta- neous reversal of the icecaps’ melting would be more likely than their (what is to pass for a) ‘position’ making any sense. Give up already.
In philosophy, as in any other domain of the influencer industry, it is evident that ‘good and bad ideas compete for attention’, which itself comes in limited supply. For this role we expect the candidate to seize this condition of scarcity as an ideal space for maintaining an active branding and engagement strategy, both on- and offline, and to have a track record of achieving month-on-month follower growth for their personal brand.
What we look for
The successful applicant is expected to have the following attributes or qualifications.
- You thrive on the feeling of being recognised as smart. You can spot and exploit opportunities for being showered in such recognition by either colleagues or strangers, and will moreover actively facilitate its occurrence by citing shiny affiliations, or by name-dropping disciplinary big shots that once passed within a few meters’ proximity of you when going for yet another solitary beer.
- You are willing to defend under any circumstance the long-refuted claim that doing well in philosophy requires some unnamed, but definitely innate, special ‘talent’ or ‘genius’—rather than, say, actual work, connections, and being rich and stubborn enough to shoulder the years of unpaid initiation followed by yet more under-paid hopping between short-term, precarious contracts. Ability to cite dusty nineteenth-century phrenology texts in support would be a real plus.
- Our organisation has special needs in side-stepping recurrent complaints that our professionals are disproportionately inclined to cite only pale European blokes. It is therefore essential that the successful candidate has experience in conclusively refuting any such pronouncements either by changing the subject, or by pointing out that we really could not possibly compromise on quality.
- You are skilled in brushing off suggestions that philosophy produced by our professionals is in any way discriminatory on the grounds of disability, personal appearance, body size, race, ethnicity, age, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, nationality, or other similar characteristics by using the conclusive retort that one was simply ‘reflecting on a concept’.
- You are committed to the view of philosophy as ‘a zero-sum game’: instances of other people’s mental shortcomings must in all cases gracefully be compensated for by foregrounding one’s own towering achievements.
- You are accomplished in using volume, rhetorical shape-shifting and appeal to ‘common-sense’ to force others to admit their faults in proposing anything diverging from one’s own tight spot in logical space; thus confirming one’s status as a Big Thinker.
- You are able to use the format of a request for clarification in official gatherings to conceal that one is actually bringing about the crumbling downfall of what the other person has just argued for; or a willingness to acquire this skill within two years of assuming the position.
- You endorse philosophy as a way of life. Not that we would in any way expect a philosophy professional to match actions to words, in the manner of the social virtue theory of Ban Zhao (c. 45–116 CE), the asceticism of Theano of Croton’s (who flourished in the sixth century BCE), or Arete of Cyrene’s (from the fifth or fourth century BCE) hedonism. Rather, we would expect them to regard the activity doing philosophy for our organisation as a way of being in the world to which they are willing to dedicate their entire life.
- You would enjoy the thrill of competing with others for research grants, publication opportunities, employment security, office space, coffee mugs, dignity.
- Someone who either by identity, inheritance, or years of ‘training, socialisation, and immersion’ has come to look and sound much like the people currently already dominating the corridors would be the best fit for this position.
What we offer
The successful candidate will be understood to provide a service to our organisation on the AaaS enterprise model (occupational Terms and Conditional apply). Hence they will be considered an independent contractor rather than an employee of our organisation. They can look forward to having all standard benefits that would come with standard employment security withheld.
Most of our contracted philosophers regard the ability to provide a service to our organisation as a reward in its own right. Our organisation goes above and beyond this, by in addition paying all our contractors in exposure—offering a unique opportunity to uplift their personal brand. Exposure will come in two forms: first, to students in the form of the opportunity to teach (up to, and typically no fewer than, 6 classes per semester); second, to other professionals, by offering them a chance to compete with similarly contracted philosophers to have their name listed on our website and to be allowed to use institutional letterhead.
We know that a main priority for professional philosophy service providers is freedom, and that most find strict working hours limiting. Hence the successful applicant will be given the liberty to be able to make their own choices about where and when to carry out their philosophy service work—whether this be in our HQ’s freshly refurbished co-working space (charges will be applied at market rate), in a corridor, a park bench, sobbing on the bathroom floor, or during one of the shifts of additional labour one will inevitably have to take up to ward off starvation. We will not restrict any contractor by allocating limited work hours and offer anyone the opportunity to work between 0 and 168 hours a week as they see fit.
A complete application must be submitted online by the closing date. More information about the conditions of employment can be obtained at the following web address: https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2407748. (We are aware that rumours are circulating that academic philosophy’s work arrangements would resemble those of a drug gang. For our own and other people’s safety, we could not possibly comment.)
We are strongly committed to using the label Equal Opportunity Employer to ourselves and have yet to encounter anyone flush enough with cash to afford the legal fees to challenge us on this assertion in court. We would certainly consider providing an inclusive, non-discriminatory, and harassment-free working environment, provided that doing so does not require us to make any changes to the superbly efficient way we are currently running our organisation. We are proud to offer a platform which ensures that members of presently dominant groups in the profession will continue to see themselves overrepresented in the discipline.