Becoming a Philosopher: 12 Steps (with Pictures)

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Becoming a Philosopher: 12 Steps (with Pictures)
Becoming a Philosopher: 12 Steps (with Pictures)

The word "philosophy" means "love of wisdom." But a philosopher is more than just someone who knows a lot or loves to learn. The philosopher is one who actively engages in critical thinking about the big questions in life to which there are no clear answers. The philosopher's life is not an easy one, but if you enjoy exploring complicated relationships and like to think deeply about important yet often vexing topics, studying philosophy may be right for you.


Part 1 of 3: Preparing your mind

Become a Philosopher Step 1
Become a Philosopher Step 1

Step 1. Question everything

Philosophy requires a thorough and critical study of life and the world as a whole. In order to do that, you absolutely must not be prejudiced, ignorant or dogmatic.

  • The philosopher is one who dwells in contemplation and observation. Philosophers take an experience and attempt to fathom it, even if it requires being brutally honest about it. This means that philosophers reject preconceived notions that they have accepted in the past, and that they look critically at all their views. No religion or ideology is immune, regardless of its origin, authority, or emotional strength. To think philosophically you have to be able to form your own opinion.
  • Philosophers do not base their opinions on simple assumptions and do not gossip. Instead, philosophers develop their arguments based on assumptions that can and will then be tested by other philosophers. The purpose of philosophical thinking is not to be right, but to ask good questions and strive for a deeper understanding.
Become a Philosopher Step 2
Become a Philosopher Step 2

Step 2. Read Philosophy

Hundreds of years of philosophical thought preceded your own perceptions of the world. Studying the ideas of other philosophers will provide you with new ideas, questions and problems to ponder. The more philosophy you read, the better you can become as a philosopher.

  • For the philosopher, reading is one of the most important tasks. Philosophy professor Anthony Grayling described reading as a task of "extreme intellectual importance," and suggests reading literary works in the morning and philosophical works later in the day.
  • Read the classics. Many of the most enduring and powerful philosophical concepts in Western philosophy come from the sages of old, such as Plato, Aristotle, Hume, Descartes, and Kant. Contemporary philosophers therefore recommend reading the important work of those philosophers. In Eastern philosophy, the ideas of Lao Tse, Confucius, and Buddha have stood the test of time, and those ideas, too, deserve the attention of aspiring philosophers.
  • At the same time, don't hesitate to put the work of these thinkers aside for the time being if you don't find it stimulating enough. You can always start again later. For now, choose the work of a thinker who you find more fascinating. You can always come back to it later.
  • You can structure this study by taking a bachelor's degree in Philosophy, but many philosophers are self-taught.
  • Try to combine a lot of reading with self-investigative writing. Where reading broadens your view of the world, writing will deepen your understanding. You can start by writing down your own thoughts about the philosophical texts you read.
Become a Philosopher Step 3
Become a Philosopher Step 3

Step 3. Think big

Spend time thinking about the world, what it means to live, to die, what it means to exist and what exactly it all means. These topics will lead to big, unanswered, and often unanswerable questions-questions that only philosophers, young children, and the most inquisitive have the imagination and courage to ask.

The more "practical" subjects, such as those arising from the social sciences (e.g. political science or sociology), the humanities and even the exact sciences (e.g. biology and physics), can also provide food for philosophical thought

Become a Philosopher Step 4
Become a Philosopher Step 4

Step 4. Engage in discussions

While sharpening critical thinking skills, you should engage in discussion as much as possible. This will increase the ability to think freely and critically. Many philosophers see the vigorous exchange of ideas as an important path to truth.

  • The aim here is not to win a competition, but to learn and develop thinking skills. There will always be someone who knows something better than you, and arrogance will hinder your ability to learn from them. Keep an open mind.
  • Make sure your arguments are always sound, logical and rational. The conclusions should flow from presuppositions and those presuppositions should be supported by evidence. Weigh the actual evidence carefully and don't be convinced by repetition or ignorance. It is vital for any evolving philosopher to compose and critique arguments.

Part 2 of 3: Practicing Philosophy

Become a Philosopher Step 5
Become a Philosopher Step 5

Step 1. Develop an inquiring mind and put it into practice

An important part of philosophy is research and analysis of the world. To put it another way, a central task of philosophy is to find ways to define and describe the fundamental structures and patterns of life-often by breaking them down into smaller parts.

  • There is no superior research method that is by definition better than any other. That's why it's important to develop an approach that is both intellectually rigorous and compelling.
  • The decisions you make at this stage depend on the types of questions you ask and the relationships you explore. Are you interested in the human condition? Political arrangements? Links between concepts, or between words and concepts? The different focus areas can lead to different approaches to the formulation of questions and the development of theories. Reading philosophical texts will help you make these trade-offs. It does that by exposing you to ways other people have approached philosophy in the past.
  • Some philosophers rely entirely on their minds and rationality; and not on the senses, which can sometimes mislead us. Descartes, one of history's most respected philosophers, was one to take this approach. There are also philosophers who use their own observations of the world around them as the basis for their investigations into the nature of consciousness. These are two very different ways of philosophizing, but both are equally valid.
  • If you can, it's great to be the source of your own investigations. Because you are always available to yourself, any investigation of yourself (and there can be a lot of them) can allow you to make progress. Consider the basis of what you believe. Why do you believe what you believe? Start from scratch and question your reasoning.
  • Whatever you focus your research on, try to be systematic in your thinking. Be rational and consistent. Compare and contrast, mentally separate things to try to understand them. Ask yourself what would happen if two things were combined (synthesis) or if something were removed from the process or connection. Under these different circumstances, keep asking questions.
Become a Philosopher Step 6
Become a Philosopher Step 6

Step 2. Start writing out your ideas

Write down what you think about the topics of your research, including ideas you think you shouldn't write down (possibly because you think others would think those ideas are stupid). While you may not come to striking conclusions right away, you will chart your own assumptions for yourself. You'll probably be amazed at how silly some of your assumptions can be, and that will make you more mature.

  • If you don't know where to start, you can address questions that other philosophers have already explored. Consider, for example, how one should treat the existence of god, whether we have free will or whether our existence is determined by fate.
  • The true power of philosophy lies in the continuity of thought that you will maintain in your writing. If you're investigating an issue, a single note probably won't do much. But if you return to that matter during the day, the different circumstances you encounter that day will provide you with new insights. It's this cumulative brainpower that will lead to those "Eureka!" moments.
Become a Philosopher Step 7
Become a Philosopher Step 7

Step 3. Develop a philosophy of life

As you write, you will begin to develop a philosophical perspective, arriving at logical and informed ideas about life and the world.

  • It is common for philosophers to adjust or adjust their perspective over time, especially when it concerns a specific issue. These are frameworks, thought patterns. Many of the greatest philosophers of all time have developed such frameworks. At the same time, keep in mind that you must continue to look at every issue with a critical eye.
  • The core task underlying the philosopher's efforts is that of model development. Each of us is driven by a reality model that is continuously adapted to stay in line with our observations. We can use deductive (eg “due to gravity the stone will fall to the ground where I release the stone.”) and inductive (eg “I've seen this weather pattern a lot of times; I'm sure it's going to rain”) to create this model of sequential approaches. Developing philosophical theories involves making these models explicit and then studying them in depth.
Become a Philosopher Step 8
Become a Philosopher Step 8

Step 4. Rewrite and ask for feedback

You should rewrite the first and drafts of your work to better organize your ideas. You can then have your work read by others. You can ask your friends, relatives, teachers or classmates what they think of your work. You can also upload your texts online (on a website, blog or internet forum) and ask for responses.

  • Be prepared to receive criticism, and use that criticism to improve your own ideas. Always remember to analyze the evidence presented to find a broader understanding. Let the criticism and insights of others help you improve your own thinking.
  • Be wary of criticism that shows little or no sign of thoughtful exchange (whether the thesis has been understood, or read at all). Such critics assume that they are thinkers, without accepting the philosophical discipline presented here, but nevertheless assume that they are entitled to philosophical consideration. Such discussions will be fruitless and will continue ad nauseam.
  • Rewrite your texts after you've received feedback from your readers, and make sure to take into account the useful criticism that has been given.

Part 3 of 3: Becoming a pro

Become a Philosopher Step 9
Become a Philosopher Step 9

Step 1. Get a high academic degree

If you aspire to a professional career as a philosopher, you will need to obtain a doctorate or at least a master's degree.

  • Making a living from philosophy means using your knowledge and (hopefully) wisdom to produce original philosophical insights and teach philosophy. In other words, today's professional philosopher is an academic-and this requires a high academic degree.
  • In addition, the advanced training will help you expand the philosophical thinking ability. For example, you will have to learn a very disciplined writing style that is used in academic journals.
  • Spend some time exploring the philosophy programs at the various universities in the country. Choose the university that seems best to you and apply. Competition for research masters is fierce, so there is a chance that you will not be admitted immediately to the first program you apply for. It is therefore wise to register for multiple courses.
Become a Philosopher Step 10
Become a Philosopher Step 10

Step 2. Publish your ideas

Before you have fully graduated, you should try to publish your ideas.

  • There are several academic journals that focus on philosophy. By publishing your essays in these journals, you will build a reputation as a philosophical thinker. This greatly increases the chance that you will score a job as a Philosophy teacher.
  • It is also wise to present your work at academic conferences. In addition, by participating in these events, you can get more feedback from other professional thinkers. Moreover, this form of networking is good for your career prospects.
Become a Philosopher Step 11
Become a Philosopher Step 11

Step 3. Learn to teach

Many of the greatest sages of all time have taught. In addition, universities that hire you to study philosophy professionally will assume that you will teach other budding philosophers.

Teaching opportunities will likely arise while you are still a student. This way you can teach bachelor students about philosophy and at the same time work on your pedagogical skills

Become a Philosopher Step 12
Become a Philosopher Step 12

Step 4. Find a job

After you have obtained your doctorate (or master), you can look for a job as a teacher or professor of Philosophy. Where possible, competition in this process is even fiercer than when applying for the research master. Assume that you will be rejected at least a few times before you finally land a position.

  • Many graduate philosophers end up not finding a job in academia. However, know that the skills you have acquired during your studies can serve you in many different ways. Those skills can help you find another job, and of course you can always keep busy with philosophy in your spare time. Also know that the work of many great philosophers was never fully recognized during their lifetime, and only received the attention and appreciation it deserved posthumously.
  • The benefits of disciplined thinking cannot be overstated. In today's society, with direct access to vast amounts of information (sometimes partly misleading, sometimes worse, sometimes even deliberately aimed at degrading one's mental health), the philosopher's inquiring mind is indispensable. The philosopher has the tools needed to recognize half-truths or total falsehoods.


  • Wondering is philosophy, philosophy is wondering. Never stop asking yourself why or how something works-even if you get an answer.
  • Try to unravel the meaning and significance of everything around you. If you come across something that your gut says doesn't make sense or seems "shady," try to figure out why. Philosophy is about more than reading philosophical texts. True philosophy comes from thinking about and analyzing everything around us every day.
  • Don't be afraid to challenge views that are the opposite of what you believe. Being able to consider as many aspects of issues as possible is an excellent way to sharpen your own arguments and thinking patterns. A great philosopher can (and will) question even the most basic beliefs held by his/her society without fear of criticism. That is exactly what Darwin, Galileo and Einstein did, and therefore they will never be forgotten.
  • It is as Thomas Jefferson once said: "He who receives an idea from me receives that idea himself without diminishing mine, just as he who lights his candle from mine receives light without obscuring me." Don't be afraid to let others use your ideas. When people hear your ideas, it will fuel criticism and contribution, making your own thoughts and counter-arguments even stronger.
  • Assumptions are the nail in the coffin of philosophy and fresh, intelligent thinking. Always keep asking yourself "why?"
  • Always keep asking questions. Questions give us the key to unlock our unlimited potential.


  • Don't be afraid to express a radical opinion, but don't let the novelty and originality stop you from seeing the reasonableness of more conservative ideas.
  • Philosophizing will ripen your ideas. They can even mature to the point where you and your friends grow apart. Your friends may not be interested in your philosophy, or they may not be willing to compromise. This is normal, but can be isolating. The philosopher's quest is extremely personal, and the philosopher's life can be solitary.

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