|Left to right: Plato, Kant, Nietzsche|
A philosopher, in a broad sense, is someone who studies philosophy. The word "philosopher" comes from the Ancient Greek φιλόσοφος (philosophos), which means "lover of wisdom". The introduction of the terms "philosopher" and "philosophy" has been ascribed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras.
A philosopher, in the more narrow and common usage, is any intellectual who has made contributions in one or more current fields of philosophy, such as aesthetics, ethics, epistemology, logic, metaphysics, social theory, and political philosophy. A philosopher may also be one who worked in the humanities or other sciences which have since split from philosophy proper over the centuries, such as the arts, history, economics, sociology, psychology, linguistics, anthropology, theology, and politics. They may relate this knowledge to the discussion of philosophical problems.
In the classical sense, a philosopher is someone who lives according to a way of life, whose focus is upon resolving existential questions about the human condition, and not someone who discourses upon theories or comments upon authors. Typically, these particular brands of philosophy are Hellenistic ones and those who most arduously commit themselves to this lifestyle may be considered a philosopher. An example of the expected standards of this definition is Marcus Aurelius, who is widely regarded as a philosopher in the modern sense, but personally refuses to call himself by such a title, since he had a duty to live as an emperor.
In the fourth century the word philosopher was often used to designate a man or woman who led a monastic life. Gregory of Nyssa, for example, describes how his sister Macrina persuaded their mother to forsake "the distractions of material life" for a life of philosophy.
In both definitions, philosophers address these questions through critical, systematic and reasoned approaches.
In the modern era, those attaining advanced degrees in philosophy often choose to stay in careers within the educational system. According to a 1993 study by the National Research Council (as reported by the American Philosophical Association), 77.1% of the 7,900 holders of a Ph.D. in philosophy who responded were employed in educational institutions (academia). Outside of academia, philosophers may employ their skills in other careers, such as medicine, bioethics, business, publishing, free-lance writing, media, and law.
Women in philosophy
Historically, philosopers have predominantly been male. This has become less true in the modern era as more women enter the field, and some female philosophers have come to prominence, such as Ayn Rand, Marilyn McCord Adams, Patricia Churchland, Simone de Beauvoir, Elizabeth Anscombe, Susan Haack, Hannah Arendt.
Prizes in philosophy
- φιλόσοφος. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
- Shook, John R., ed. (2010). Dictionary of Modern American philosophers (online ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. Introduction. ISBN 9780199754663. OCLC 686766412. doi:10.1093/acref/9780199754663.001.0001. (subscription required (. ))
The label of “philosopher” has been broadly applied in this Dictionary to intellectuals who have made philosophical contributions regardless of academic career or professional title. The wide scope of philosophical activity across the time-span of this Dictionary would now be classed among the various humanities and social sciences which gradually separated from philosophy over the last one hundred and fifty years. Many figures included were not academic philosophers but did work at the philosophical foundations of such fields as pedagogy, rhetoric, the arts, history, politics, economics, sociology, psychology, linguistics, anthropology, religion, and theology. Philosophy proper is heavily represented, of course, encompassing the traditional areas of metaphysics, ontology, epistemology, logic, ethics, social/political theory, and aesthetics, along with the narrower fields of philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, philosophy of law, applied ethics, philosophy of religion, and so forth
- Pierre Hadot, The Inner Citadel. pg. 4
- Meditations 8.1 - Wikisource
- Readings in World Christian History (2013), p. 147, 149
- APA Committee on Non-Academic Careers (June 1999). "A non-academic career?" (3rd ed.). American Philosophical Association. Retrieved May 24, 2014.