There’s an article on me in Inside Higher Ed

In response to my (surprisingly) much read post on how and why I am leaving adjunct teaching to develop my own business as an online philosopher, Inside Higher Ed has a piece on me today:

Fincke discusses the possibility of failure on his blog. He wants to remain a teacher, he said, but even “if that can’t happen, I know I can always teach through writing.” He’ll try for the scholarly journals he never had time to write for before, but, he remains committed primarily to his blog. The discipline would do well not to “sniff” at his and other philosophers’ attempts to make it more accessible to the general public, he added. Naming Nietzsche, Kant and a host of other non-academic but well-known philosophers, Fincke said there’s a long legacy of the discipline’s best work being done outside the academy.

“We are not like other disciplines where one has to go out and do a sophisticated empirical research program and then come back to report on findings,” he said. “This is a dialectical endeavor. I feel like it should be a vigorous daily interaction using modern internet technology wherein philosophers immediately can float their ideas to each other and get immediate professional feedback in an ongoing, informal process in the blogosphere or something akin to it.”

Amy Ferrer, executive director of the American Philosophical Association, said she couldn’t comment specifically on potential market for Fincke’s courses or the organization’s position on philosophical counseling. But, she added via email: “The discipline and the profession benefit from increased public engagement with and exposure to philosophy; if courses like Fincke’s can create more opportunities for that kind of engagement, that’s a good thing.” (Recent job posting and other hiring-related figures for tenure-track philosophy jobs were not immediately available from the association. Ferrer said the philosophy job market has “long been a challenging one,” made worse by the recession.)

There’s a lot more, she covered a lot and talked to some more interesting people who had responses to what I’m doing. To learn more of the ins and outs of how I started up my online classes and attained blogging success, listen to the thorough interview on these subjects I gave to Daniel Mullin at the very good Unemployed Philosopher’s Blog last May.

Just a quick correction of an inaccuracy in what I said in the article that I know a lot of philosophers will pick up on. Of the long list of philosophers I cited who did important work outside the academy, I should not have included Kant. What I was trying to refer to when including Kant was that he was not a professor until he was 45. For a long time he was a private lecturer. I have been told he had to advertise for his own students and functioned very much as the period’s equivalent of an adjunct. So he was not operating under idealized professional academic conditions and that was my point. (Of course, in his case though, his best philosophical work came relatively late in life, as a professor.)

The better examples of philosophers that I gave who didn’t have philosophy positions at all while writing cutting edge things included Nietzsche, Spinoza, Hume, Peirce, Wittgenstein, Kierkegaard, Descartes, and Locke. (And of course this doesn’t even scratch the surface of the pre-university philosophers of note.) I can understand, amidst the list I gave and the general framing that I gave it why it came off like I was saying Kant operated outside the academy when doing his most important work. I tried to clarify what I meant right after Kant’s name came out of my mouth, but as I was throwing a lot of information at the reporter quickly I take responsibility for the inaccuracy.

Your Thoughts?

If you enjoy reading my philosophical blog posts, consider taking one of my online philosophy classes! I earned my PhD and taught 93 university classes before I went into business for myself. My online classes involve live, interactive class discussions with me and your fellow students held over videoconference (using Google Hangout, which downloads in just seconds). Classes involve personalized attention to your own ideas and questions. Course content winds up tailored to your interests as lively and rigorous class discussions determine where exactly we go. Classes are flexible enough to meet the needs of both beginners and students with existing philosophical background

My classes require no outside reading or homework or grades–only a once weekly 2.5 hour commitment that fits the schedules of busy people. My classes are university quality but I can offer no university credit whatsoever. New classes start up every month and you can join existing groups of students if you want. Click on the classes that interest you below and find the course descriptions, up-to-date schedules, and self-registration. 1-on-1 classes can be arranged by appointment if you write me at camelswithhammers@gmail.com.

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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.


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