Why I’m on Medium

I’m an intellectual, not an academic; let me explain.

Douglas Giles, PhD

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(Photo by author of artwork on a building demolished in 2016.)

I have a friend who teaches languages. She is very, very good at it; so good that the government contracts her to teach some of their people. She could have a job at any number of prestigious universities. Instead, she teaches at a community college because, she says, she wants to help underprivileged students.

My friend is a saint and I admire her greatly. She is doing far more good in the world teaching immigrants and the children of immigrants than being a chair of a snooty Ivy League school. She is using her talents more constructively.

I am no saint, but I have values similar to those of my friend. I trained to be a professional philosopher. I spent the nine years required and earned my B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. What I was “supposed” to then do with that Ph.D. was make the rounds of obeyances at philosophy departments around the world until I glad-handed my way into a tenure-track position and be admitted into the ol’ boys’ club.

Uh, no, thank you. No offense, but my time and energy are better spent in other pursuits. That is what I have done.

That doesn’t mean I have abandoned higher education. I teach university courses, because like my friend, I want to help students. I don’t just have a Ph.D. in philosophy, I am a philosopher. I love philosophy and I want to do all that I can to help improve society and the lives of individual people.

Higher education is this weird but wonderful world. Similar to how I love music but hate the music industry, I love learning and teaching but hate what the education industry has become.

The higher education system is part of why I say I am an intellectual, not an academic. A bigger reason is the nature of academia. I often prefer to talk philosophy with non-faculty people. Talking with tenured academics is too often difficult when their ears are so full of their own thoughts that they cannot listen, and their mouths so full of their own opinions they…

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Douglas Giles, PhD

Philosopher by trade & temperament, professor for 21 years, bringing philosophy out of its ivory tower and into everyday life. https://linktr.ee/dgilesphd