The Soul of a Philosopher
A Businessman Reminded Me about the Essence of Philosophy.
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Philosopher for Hire
Every now and then I am contacted by someone who wants to hire me to help them write a paper or book. I’ve had rewarding collaborations over the years, helping people form their ideas and polish their writing, and it’s been a nice income supplement (being a philosophy professor pays less than most people think). I love ideas and I want to make a positive difference, so I enjoy helping people who share those passions.
Recently, I was contacted by a businessman asking me to help him write a paper for publication in a philosophy journal. He claimed to have figured it all out, had the system that will solve humanity’s problems. I’m pretty dubious about grand totalizing claims, but I always take a look at what such people have. This guy wasn’t a total crackpot, and he could actually write (it’s disturbing how few people can), and his basic idea was somewhat interesting, so I agreed to an online meeting.
He’s a nice enough guy, but pretty quickly it was obvious he is a marketer who primarily focused on the packaging of what he was selling. Still, the basic idea he was selling wasn’t daft, just needed improvement. We outlined the parameters of the project and agreed on my hourly rate. He said: “Analyze my draft paper and tell me how to improve it to get published so that my ideas can gain academic credibility.” Fair enough.
Long story short, I did as he asked, analyzed his draft paper and his ideas behind his argument. I pointed out several contradictions at the core of his argument, how he was incorrectly using several terms, and offered some corrections and solutions that would improve his argument and allow him to reach his goal. This was all standard procedure, as any philosopher will tell you. No one’s argument is perfect, and everyone benefits from feedback on how they can improve their use of terms and concepts in constructing their narratives. It’s why academics of all stripes meet…