Is Professional Philosophy a Bullshit Job? Yes. And What You Can Do About It.

An edgy essay by Z


This means that, as a professional academic philosopher, even though you began by loving real philosophy for its own sake, you’ve unintentionally turned your working life into the very opposite of what you hoped it would be.


In the rest of this edgy essay, I’m going to do four things: first, use a recent essay by the political anthropologist David Graeber to show you that being a professional academic, in general, is indeed a bullshit job, then second, critically analyze the response to Graeber’s argument by Justin Weinberg at The Daily Nous, third, show you that being a professional academic philosopher, in particular, is a bullshit job, and fourth and finally, offer a constructive suggestion as to what you can do about it.

1. David Graeber on the Bullshitization of Academic Life[i]

I would like to write about the bullshitization of academic life: that is, the degree to which those involved in teaching and academic management spend more and more of their time involved in tasks which they secretly — or not so secretly — believe to be entirely pointless.


[i] D. Graeber, “Are You in a BS Job? In Academe, You’re Hardly Alone,” Chronicle of Higher Education (6 May 2018), available online HERE.

2. What The Daily Nous Said

So, Graeber’s very challenging thesis is that being a contemporary professional academic, in general, is a bullshit job.


[iii] J. Weinberg, “Bullshit Jobs in Higher Ed,” The Daily Nous (8 May 2018), available online HERE.

3. Me, Z, on Why Professional Academic Philosophy is a Bullshit Job

In his well-known 2013 essay, “The Phenomenon of Bullshit Jobs,” and in the essay published a week ago (6 May 2018) that I included as section 1 of this edgy essay, Graeber defines and criticizes what he calls “bullshit jobs,” and then extends that critique to the professional academy.

4. Graeber & I on What You Can Do About It

Graeber asks, “So: How might it be possible to turn all this around?”

  • to create and share original works of philosophy freely available to anyone, anywhere.


Formerly Captain Nemo. A not-so-very-angry, but still unemployed, full-time philosopher-nobody.

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