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As an aspiring applicant to grad school I am often encouraged to apply to the

As an aspiring applicant to grad school I am often encouraged to apply to the top 20 or so ranked philosophy departments.However, I am interested in studying continental philosophy among other things and there seems to be very little opportunity for to engage myself in such study; indeed some departments like Rutgers seem entirely analytic. Are there good options out there for me which will provide me good training in both the analytic and continental traditions? Thank you

well, the general go-to site for such questions is probably this one:

lots of people question the modes of rankings etc., but there is plenty of useful information there to help you answer the question.



I have done B.Tech in Computer Science, and Masters in Humanities

I have done B.Tech in Computer Science, and Masters in Humanities (specialization in Ontology). Can you kindly suggest me some places where I can do a Ph.D which combines both these fields?

I don't know what you mean by "ontology", which can refer to either the branch of philosophy (metaphysics) that is concerned with existence or the branch of artificial intelligence that is concerned with knowledge representation techniques for organizing information (both of those characterizations are very, very rough, of course). In the latter case, you might want to look into doctoral programs in either philosophy or computer science departments where there are researchers specializing in that, such as the (SUNY) Buffalo Center for Ontological Research (disclaimer: that's my institution!). For more information on this kind of ontology, see

Can a good argument be made for encouraging working class parents in particular

Can a good argument be made for encouraging working class parents in particular to pursue education? What I'm trying to get at is this... I get the feeling that, had I come from a more privalidged background, I might have had a lot more support through my school years. My parents received a very poor education and "knew" they weren't really going to amount to much. As a result I was never really helped with school work and was encouraged to follow a trade rather than get further education.  As if that was the best of what could be expected from a person of our social status. I've seen the same thing happening with the vast majority of my relatives and others that I grew up with. I hated that sort of working environment and wished I had taken a different path. Although others may be satisfied with that sort of outcome, surely having more options is better. I now do social work in my community which, although satisfying, is sometimes challenging as I see lots of suffering that being better educated would...

You've in effect made several good arguments yourself. But the idea that just because one was born into a certain social stratum, one shouldn't try to get out of it is an idea that has long since lost any plausibility it might have had. In fact, when you think about it, it's hard to see what could recommend that view. Even if we concede that there will always be low-skill jobs needing to be done, it hardly follows that one is obliged to be the one who does them just because of accidents of birth.

If someone is truly content to remain uneducated, or work for low wages or perform unskilled labor, that's one thing. (And there are such people.) But if that's not what you want out of life, It's hard to think of any good reason why you should be expected simply to go along with a life-plan you didn't pick.

A friend of mine who got his PhD when I did came from a working class family. There's nothing wrong with that, and nothing wrong with the work they did. (My family was only pne beneration removed from workin class.) But much to his resentment, his family used to tell him that he shouldn't "get above himself." The idea that aspiring to accomplish more than one's ancestors is "getting above oneself" is a vicious notion, even if those who are in its grip don't mean it that way. The world has benefitted from countless people who have done exactly what that not-at-all innocent way of speaking would have talked them out of.

Would you professional philosophers advise that us--rather uninitiated--students

Would you professional philosophers advise that us--rather uninitiated--students begin tackling philosophers and philosophical perspectives through series such as the "A Very Short Introduction" collection? I am a senior international relations/development studies undergrad and have been recently taking courses on what kinds of ethical relations we have to others, in general,"global justice". I have read key pieces from Rawls, Pogge (I enjoy his cosmopolitan institutionalist perspective!), Sen, David Held, Habermas, Nagel, some Charles Taylor, and several others. One constant problem I have encountered was that many of these authors are writing amidst the background of other thinkers such as Hegel, Rousseau, Locke, Mill, Kant and so on. To return to my initial question, would you recommend "intro" readings for many of these authors so one can understand--very basically--where contemporary scholars derive their ideas, or do I need to take the plunge directly into Hegel (I know one day I will) et al? Could...

There are lots of resources available for people who would like to gain entry into the world of academic philosophy. I suggest that you find out what texts are used in introductory philosophy courses in the areas in which you are interested. There are two obvious ways to do this: one, if you live near a college or university, check out the campus or area bookstores for lists of the required or recommended books for the courses that interest you. You might even visit a professor during his or her office hours (these may be posted on the web, or you may be able to get them by calling the department office) to ask for recommendations.

Alternatively, or in addition, you can surf the web for course syllabi. Many instructors post these to publicly accessible sites, and the syllabi usually list the books required or recommended for the course.

There are at least two good encyclopedias of philosophy that I can recommend. There is a print encyclopedia, published by Routledge. It is very expensive to buy, but local libraries or college libraries might carry it. There is also the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ( ) Both of these resources are meant to be useful for professional philosophers, so they may presuppose more expertise than you have. But many entries are quite accessible, and even if the content is a little beyond you (at this point), the references may be helpful.

Finally, don't forget to exploit this website. Search by the philosopher or topic you are interested in. We panelists all write with people like you in mind, so you might find a lot of what you're looking for right here.


Hello, I'm 17 years old. I'm in a situation where I have dropped out of high

Hello, I'm 17 years old. I'm in a situation where I have dropped out of high school because I strongly feel I am better off without it. I am about to travel around the united states with a 27 year old man that i only met and talked with on the internet/phone for four years. In all of that time I learned to have complete trust in him because I see him as like a older brother now. It is still very possible to be lead a successful and happy life without schooling. Now further, I plan on pursue my writings in poetry and writings on my thoughts in general that i believe to have a spiritual/philosophical value. I believe in situations where the mind is constantly adapting to new environments (travel) it sets a great catalyst for creative thoughts. This is my dream and needs be fulfilled to have an existential based life realized. A lot of great philosophers have been home schooled and led rather independent life styles, which I am doing as well. I still haven't completely denied the possibility of going to a...

I am impressed that you were willing to ask the question in this forum - I don't know how many 17 year old readers we have here, but I suspect you are in a minority. This demonstrates your willingness to look for answers in unexpected places, so good for you! I am afraid, however, I agree with Prof. Stairs and want to urge caution before embarking on such a journey, which might sound to your ears so conventional and unenlightened it may be hard to hear.

While you are right that it is still possible to find a path less traveled and do well in life, it seems to be increasingly rare. There are many social/economic reasons for this and over which you have little control. While the human spirit of adventure and the lure of a life lived well and fully will never die, the historical moment in which you find yourself is remarkably different than it was for your predecessors. For example, my father did very well with only one year of post high-school education, and he earned far more than I will with my PhD. Please understand that I am not speaking of "earning-power" as a goal because we all need to find the life that suits us, and one need not have much material wealth to satisfy a worthy life.

So what leads us forward toward a worthwhile existence? That is hard to know of course, but as my colleague suggests, we can generalize a bit about development of good judgment as being, in part, a function of age. I am sure you have observed poor and good judgement in individuals of all ages - but as a rule we improve with age and learn from experiences of poor judgment. Now I recognize this creates something of a vicious circle, a bit like looking for your first job when the ads all say "experience needed." How in heaven's name do I get that experience if no one will hire me? This is a lot like the problem you face: everyone says you need more experience of life before you embark on an experience of life! But while similar, it is a flawed analogy. The flaw is that it depends a lot on the job or life experience you seek and how high the stakes are. Any wise employer will prefer to hire someone with "experience," but it depends on the job. If not a lot of training is required, it is possible that the employer meets a young person like yourself and says "what the heck, I'll give him a shot at it...worse case scenario, it won't work out, but I can take that risk." But if the job is really beyond your skill level, the employer would be not just a fool to hire an inexperienced worker, she would be irresponsible, setting the new employee up for failure and possible harm.

Perhaps this is part of why, as Prof. Stairs says, there is no need to hurry on this particular life-changing experience. The stakes are simply too high and there are so many unknowns to feel it would be wise to support such a venture at this time. It is a little like buying a $5 lottery ticket - even though the odds are hugely against you - because you might win! But then you get folks who (literally) bet their whole fortunes on the hopes of winning and lose it all. That is what is at stake here and why you are hearing another voice of caution from me. You are not playing with a five dollar bill - you are playing a high stakes game with far more to lose than you might win.

I hope you will take to heart that there is a lot more time ahead to support your dreams and surprises in store for you in life!

I wish you all the best.


To what extent is one responsible for how accomplished one can be in life? Many

To what extent is one responsible for how accomplished one can be in life? Many assume that hard work is all that is needed. Personally i'm in college, and i've been getting A's because of hard work. I am however almost tormented by the thought that alot of my childhood was spent doing pretty much nothing. John Stuart Mill was fluent in Latin and Greek by the time he was twelve or so, because he was pushed so hard by his father. Mill was an accomplished man off course, and most people could not do the same things as he did even if they worked hard later in life. Should one just give up trying to excel academically if one has not had a privileged childhood as he did?

John Stuart Mill was a childhood prodigy, as you say, but in later adolescence he suffered a "nervous breakdown" (probably depression) which he thought was caused by too much intellectual work as a child. So, at the same age you are now, he was not very functional. He also died when he was 67--not a long life by today's measures. There are many routes to academic accomplishments; perhaps hard work is the only thing they have in common, and you know that you are capable of that. In any case, you cannot change the past or guarantee the future--only work with the present. If you enjoy academics and aspire to greatness, I wish you the best of luck!

Can Behaviourism be considered a philosophy of education?

Can Behaviourism be considered a philosophy of education?

Why not? It provides a way to mold behaviors (which, in an extreme form of behaviorism, is all there is to mental states anyway), and so the acquisition of new behaviors would be (all there is to) education.

As I am taking Philosophy at higher level and the specified approach focused on

As I am taking Philosophy at higher level and the specified approach focused on doing philosophy...what would you suggest about reading to get an understanding of philosophy as a discipline. What does it mean to study philosophy? Am I suppose to start with a question/concept?

Terrific question(s). You may indeed begin studying philosophy with questions. Kant once observed that there were three foundational questions: what can I know? What should I do? What may I hope for? But you can expand these to include: who or what am I? What is the meaning of life? What is the best form of government? Do I have duties of gratitude to my parents? When (if ever) is it justified to go to war? and so on. And if we follow the practice of Aristotle, one good way to begin reflecting on these questions is first to consider how others have tried to answer such questions, and then begin working out which answer you are drawn to and why. Probably the best historian of philosophy by a living philosopher is Anthony Kenney. You can do a search on Amazon for either his single volume history of philosophy or his multi-volume undertaking. If you would prefer not to undertake an historical approach, an easy introduction to the practice of philosophy is T.V. Morris's Philosophy for Dummies. I am sorry that it has such a silly (and slightly insulting) title, but it is a good read, clear, and reliable. As I believe philosophy is best done in dialogue with others, I suggest you might find a friend who is also interested in philosophy and perhaps work out a series of conversations on different topics. The publisher Rowman and Littlefield has published a series of dialogues in philosophy under the general editor Dale Jacquette. You might pick up one or more of them on topics of interest to get a feel for how an engaging philosophical dialogue can be both fun and insightful.

I am a humanities teacher teaching Philosophy around the question of what does

I am a humanities teacher teaching Philosophy around the question of what does it mean to be human? I am hoping to find some age appropriate readings/ videos that discuss the basics of the philosophical movement. Can anyone help me? Thanks