¿Debería estudiar un posgrado en filosofía?

Creo que este FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) titulado “Should I Go To Graduate School In Philosophy?” es de lectura imprescindible para todos los que han considerado, están considerando, o están actualmente estudiando un posgrado en filosofía. Está escrito desde adentro, de manera muy cruda y refleja una serie de las complicaciones prácticas que encuentran aquellos que se enfrentan a los estudios de posgrado en filosofía.

Algunas de las secciones más fuertes/interesantes:

Your enjoyment of reading and learning philosophy counts for approximately nil. Nobody will pay you a dime to read things. You will make a good philosophy teacher only if you are good at explaining philosophy to people who know nothing about it and are much less interested in it than you are. You will make a good researcher only if you have lots of new ideas of your own and you like writing about them. If you regularly have to ask your teachers in your classes what you should write about, then you probably do not have enough original ideas to be a good researcher.

Aún así, hay muchos que creen que son distintos a los demás, tan distintos que tienen algo completamente novedoso para ofrecer y que por eso destacarán frente a otros aplicantes:

However smart you may be, when you apply for that coveted position at the University of Colorado, your application will go into a pile of 300 others, of which at least 20 will look about equally good. All 20 of those people will have been the best philosophy students at their colleges. Think about the smartest person you have ever known. Now imagine that there are 20 copies of that person competing with you for a job. That is roughly what it will be like.

Y quizás el más fuerte de todos, respecto a qué tanto puede uno hacerse un espacio en la disciplina filosófica:

Will I influence the field through my insightful articles?

Almost certainly not.

First, it is very difficult to get published in philosophy. The respected journals reject between 90% and 95% of all submissions. No exaggeration. (If you find a journal with a higher acceptance rate than that, it will be one not worth publishing in.) They typically take three months to evaluate your article before rejecting it. Longer delays are not unusual—I once had a journal take two years to evaluate a manuscript of mine. When they finally got back to me, it was to ask me to revise and resubmit the paper. Your prospects are better if you submit to a less prestigious journal, but then virtually no one will read your article. Your ability to get “A”s on your philosophy papers in college does not mean that you will ever be able to write a publishable paper. (See my page on publishing in philosophy.)

Second, consider the sheer quantity of philosophy that is published. As of this writing (2008), the Philosopher’s Index, which indexes almost every academic philosophy publication in any of about 40 different countries, reports 14,000 new records every year. That’s fourteen thousand new philosophy articles and books, per year. Since 1940, about 400,000 philosophy books and articles have appeared. What proportion of those do you suppose the average person in the field has read? Now you can use that guess as an initial estimate of the proportion of philosophers who will read your article.

So when that paper you worked so hard on for so many hours and months finally gets published, it is overwhelmingly likely that almost no one will ever notice, and that the scholarly reaction to your article will be nil.

Es importante matizar que esto, claro, está escrito desde el punto de vista de la academia estadounidense. La verdad, no sé si eso hace las cosas mejores o peores para un estudiante de posgrado en filosofía en el Perú o en América Latina.

Para que lo tengan en consideración si lo están pensando, y si lo están haciendo, pues para que puedan hacer algo al respecto.