Philosophy job market in ancient Greece


  • Strangely, no one is offering an academic position to Thales, the famous founder of Greek philosophy. The rumor has it that it’s because he is suffering from hydrocephalus (water on the brain).
  • Zeno has declined an attractive position of professor of philosophy in Athens, explaining (convincingly) that he could not move from Elea.
  • Despite his high esteem among lovers of wisdom Heraclitus is not getting any job offers because there is a concern he would not be able to stay at the same place for  long. Besides, he makes potential employers nervous that he might be an arsonist (e.g. his famous claim “Everything is fire”) or even a war-monger (remember his slogan “War is the father and king of all”).
  • Socrates’s current position is in jeopardy because (1) he has corrupted the youth by violating the campus speech code, (2) he has no single publication nor even articles under review, (3) he openly confessed he is a know-nothing, and (4) there is evidence that he has sexually harassed young graduate students. (The extenuating circumstance is that the victims were not women.)
  • Sophists are in high demand because of their superior argumentative skills but their asking salaries are a sticking point.
  • Every department wants to have at least a few Stoics. The reason: they don’t complain about having a high teaching load. They are called “adjuncts” (from the Greek adjunktos, meaning “patient, easy to exploit”).
  • Our anonymous source explains why no administrator ever approached Plato to ask him to move from the Academy to another academic institution: “Who in his right mind would hire a guy whose main claim is that philosophers should rule, and that they should stay in power by telling “noble” lies to the people? Hey, don’t we already have politicians for that?”
  • Aristotle’s philosophical work is impressive but his rejection of democracy and egalitarianism made him unemployable. Few philosophers would agree to work with someone so brazenly opposed to equality, inclusiveness and concern for the underprivileged. True, having such an expert in logic, metaphysics and ethics would be great, but it is much more important to have a welcoming environment and a good climate in one’s department. A philosopher from a top-ranked department put it very well: Amicus Aristoteles, sed magis amica justitia socialis.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s