What a philosopher looks like

Inspired by the the success of the blog This is What a Scientist Looks Like, we’re launching a parallel effort of our own. Ladies, gentlemen, and non-gender-binaries, I give you: This is What a Philosopher Looks Like.

Our hope is that this blog will be a small part of the effort to undermine stereotypes about the kinds of people who can be philosophers. And with any luck, it will become a resource to show to students.

But for this to work, we need your help. Send us your photos! We want photos of all ages, genders, races. . .you get the idea. If you’re a philosopher, we’d love to have a photo of you.

(Special thanks to reader J for suggesting this venture to us!)

19 thoughts on “What a philosopher looks like

  1. And a very special thank you to those brave souls who agreed to have their photos included as part of the “start-up collection”. You guys are awesome.

  2. Not at all, Matt! We want to showcase the many, many different ways philosophers can look – and looking like an non-disabled, bearded white guy is certainly one of those ways. The point of the blog is just to highlight variety and diversity – being a bearded white guy is *a* way that philosophers look, but not *the* way that philosophers look.

  3. I love this idea, and yes I did spend about two hours on makeup and hair before that photo was taken, but it is not a ” glamore shot”. I think having fun with appearance is a good thing, and if I at 64 can look that good, even with a lot of effort, its a nice way to give older women a boost. Older women are lovely, not just brains, brains are good, but having a sone young prof. say, whoa, thats Granny Lizzy is a nice wakeup call

  4. Well, not to ruin the party but all of these photos are of people who teach or study at top universities. They are not typical. In general I find that those who are working on advancing the status of white women, people of color and people with disabilities in the profession are researchers at top universities to who have no sense of what it is like to be (a more typical) philosophy professor. Most are at schools that lacks the resources, research time, caliber of students and prestige that top research institutions provide .

  5. Cindy, by “all” I can only assume you mean “some”. Or that you have a rather expansive definition of “top universities”.

  6. well the university of life….. I am now retired. never made much money. yes white, but with a touch, great gransmother, native american.

  7. Cindy, although I’m flattered to think that someone believes Trent U is a top university, I must protest the depiction for truth’s sake: Mine is a primarily undergraduate and opposite-of-wealthy university, public, and with no sources of research goods, no graduate program, and a full teaching load, as was my last institution (St. Mary’s of Maryland was also public, poor, undergraduate, 3-3 teaching). Beware the word “all,” my philosophy friend!

  8. Cindy, you say:

    “In general I find that those who are working on advancing the status of white women, people of color and people with disabilities in the profession are researchers at top universities to who have no sense of what it is like to be (a more typical) philosophy professor. Most are at schools that lacks the resources, research time, caliber of students and prestige that top research institutions provide.”

    You may well be right about this (and maybe that’s partly because such people have a little additional security, given their status within the profession, and can take the undoubted risk of speaking out) but does it matter in this context?

    I mean, I hope lots of philosophy professors from all kinds of institutions send in photos, too – the more, the better. But even without that, couldn’t it show that philosophers diverge significantly from the stereotype?

  9. “But even without that, couldn’t it show that philosophers diverge significantly from the stereotype?”

    Indeed! The point of the blog is to undermine the stereotypical image of what philosophers look like – I wouldn’t have thought where those philosophers work was particularly relevant. If anything, I think it’s great to show that one can both not conform to stereotypes about what philosophers look like *and* get a job at a top research university. Surely that’s something for the blog to celebrate! It shouldn’t, of course, be celebrated at the exclusion of philosophers who don’t work at top research universities – but I really can’t see how the current collection of photos can be accused of that kind of exclusion.

  10. @magicalersatz

    Thanks for the encouragement and of course you are right. I was about 70-80% kidding. In any case I am a beautiful first semester grad student, so a philosopher only dubiously. Great project though.

  11. […] I might submit a photo too — presumably it will pop up at some point. The idea originates at Feminist Philosophers and was inspired by a similar project for the sciences. Part of the idea is to overcome […]

  12. Nice project! A suggestion: it would be useful to add an “About” section to the tumblr with a backlink to this blog or post. I followed a link to “Looks Philosophical” and it took me a while to find out who initiated it.

  13. Can’t wait for my photo to appear! (After some initial hesitation, I admit.) But you guys must be swamped under submissions, so I’ll remain patient :)

    I’m loving the photos posted so far, seeing fellow philosophers looking all kinds of ways and doing all kinds of things.

  14. Yes, we’re indeed swamped at the moment – and trying to pace ourselves a little so that we don’t overwhelm our readers (and so that we still have a steady stream of photos when submissions die down a little.)

    But – spoiler alert – I can assure everyone that Catarina’s photo is *awesome*. (And will be up soon!)

  15. @magicalersatz Oh, that’s great to hear! I was still a tiny bit insecure about the photo, whether it’s appropriate or not for the venue, that kind of thing… But now I’m fully reassured :)

    And yes, it makes sense to try to maintain a steady stream. The project was super well received all over the blogosphere, which in itself is already a great result. I haven’t been around for that long, but it seems to me that philosophy as a profession has matured a bit over the last years, among other things making room for the fact that philosophers are, you know, real people! And the Feminist Philosophers are without a doubt one of the main motors behind the good changes.

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