The Problem of “Freelance Philosophers”

I was browsing the internet and came across something unusual. Highly unusual. I came across the term ‘freelance philosopher’. Have a look at this Medium article to get a sense of this (new?) trend.

Now, it’s true, one doesn’t need to be certified to be a philosopher. Being a philosopher isn’t regulated by law, really. Still, one would hope that any person ‘doing philosophy’ would have some kind of formal education in the field, keep up with work in the area and, at least, have a BA Degree.

The reason I question whether this is a new trend is because, very simply put, and having glanced over some of these folks, I conclude they are not philosophers but sophists.

Sophistry has been around since Ancient Times, and they are, perhaps, the biggest enemy of philosophers. They are even more an enemy than ignorant people, uneducated people or people who simply do not care about philosophy at all. This is because they frame themselves as philosophers and all they do, basically, is gain notoriety, fame and fortune all while vomiting bullshit at patrons. This is precisely why none of these so-called ‘freelance philosophers’ would ever get a job at a university.

The danger of sophists and bullshit is clear: Unknowing patrons are given bad advice, false knowledge and sometimes apply those things to the daily lives and other areas of practice to much hazard and dismay.

If you are not a philosopher and wish to consult a philosopher, take this advice: seek a real philosopher, not a ‘freelance philosopher.’ The preference is, always, to attend a philosophy course. Anyone, basically, can sign up for a Philosophy 101 course at their local community college. Do that. Do not consult a ‘freelance philosopher’ online.

If you wish to–or need to–consult online, ask your professor for good resources for you. Most professors will happily assist and know the field well. Together, you can broaden your knowledge of philosophy.

-Jennifer