The Philosophy of Work -- Profession and Occupation
Updated: Jun 28
Although they are often used synonymously, including in my own native language, there is a thin difference between profession and occupation, where the act of philosophizing is also included in this article.
Although synonymous in nature, philosophers can be either by occupation and/or profession, depending on whether they have been qualified through academics to do so, and/or whether or not they actually get paid for it.
In short, a profession is the one where you and/or are specifically qualified, either get paid, while an occupation is a much broader term, not necessarily requiring qualification.
Extra note: A professional is essentialy a certified/qualified expert. An occupation is more accessible in comparison.
I am a philosopher by occupation, rather than profession. Although I have no degrees, I am an auto-didact, and much of my expertise stems from experience. Thus you can say that I am qualified by experience. And my experience in this field, as well as managing Philosocom as a business, is just growing with time. The only credible way to be a philosopher by profession is through the academy. However, I find it very problematic because of the degree fallacy, which is an idea I devised.
Politically-wise, I view the academy as a gatekeeper of knowledge, which isn't a good thing. I believe knowledge deserves to be served for free to the world, and be monetized through ways such as advertisements, donations, merchendise of brand, and so on. Free access to knowledge is imperative to make people wiser, and remove elitism. With the reduction of elitist approaches we can improve the human potential. That includes in work, as well. Give people more valuable insights, and you give them more opportunities in life.
As said before, qualification in philosophy isn't a must like in medicine or engineering. You don't need a diploma just to get outside and philosophize.
However, in order to be a philosophy professor, it is inevitable that one must have the relevant degrees and education. But again, to quote Henry David Thoreau: “There are nowadays professors of philosophy, but not philosophers.” Understand: Lecturing the history philosophy is not the same as philosophizing from your own mind.
If you write philosophy as a freelancer, some knowledge of philosophy is obviously required, but achievements in that field, like writing books or any other relevant experience, can help you a lot in building a reputation and attracting potential customers. That's the positive aspect of not needing degrees in this field. That generally includes writing, as well.
Working under management is too stressful and exhausting for me. I was a freelance writer for a short time, a long time ago, but I ended up in the hospital from all the stress. Fortunately, the stress was only mental, and the physical symptoms merely originated from that sphere exclusively. In other words -- in order to contribute, I felt compelled to start this content empire you're in right now.
Since stress is inevitable in academic careers, I can only be a philosopher by occupation. I have no desire to be stressed, just for a certificate that can be used to please others. I can philosophize regardless, and do it good.
To further show the thin distinction between the two -- both my parents are graphic designers by occupation, but they do not work in it. They have different jobs nowadays, but it does not change the fact that they are qualified in graphic design. Your qualifications won't always place you in the same job, and obviously not set you for life.
Regarding my own professional experience, I wrote books in philosophy, took some courses at the university, and even earned some certificates in philosophy through Udemy. However, these courses are not deemed qualified for professional work in educational institutions.
Don't get me wrong. Perhaps in another life, so to speak, I wish I could work as a professional philosopher but I'm afraid that's not a possibility. However, I won't let my problems stop me from at least remaining a philosopher by occupation, and giving you the content that you're here for. I do not live for myself. I do not have a mercenary's mindset.
In general, we can learn from this that the term "work", which we use very broadly, is too simplistic in many people's cases. Perhaps it's especially true in philosophy. Likewise, you don't have to earn a living from writing in order to be a writer. A writer first of all writes. And the same goes for the philosopher, whether he writes, carries speeches, debates, or uploads videos and podcasts.
We need to distinguish between work, as production of something, and between the framework the work is in. And in some cases, what should matters is whether work is being done or not. Of course, it does not mean we should enslave anyone. Whether or not qualification and livelihood are included, they are something extra that we have grown to call a fully-fledged job. Unless they are required, of course, for the sake of the work.
And finally, another underrated example -- Fan work exists. While these make you an artist by occupation/volunteering, it is generally illegal to sell them. In addition, you don't need to be a professional artist in order to create art, nor a professional graphic designer in order to teach yourself how to do it on your own.
And yet, please don't take anything from this article as legal advice. I can voice my logical reasoning, for sure, but am not qualified to provide legal knowledge. Hence why being a lawyer is, by the way, a profession.
Am I a professional philosopher? I take my occupation professionally. But professionalism is a work ethic, and not necessarily connected with qualifications. Even a customer service worker can and should have a professional approach. You don't need a certificate to take things such as criticism, like a professional, for instance.
However, let us not forget that the philosopher, Aristotle, was the first scientist, which is ironic because a scientist is necessarily a professional. Be known as a philosopher, and recognized as such through work and you won't need any further justification for your occupation (qualification is the most concrete of all work-related justifications, correct?).
It is very uncanny that the founding father of western philosophy was not a professional philosopher.