Seeing philosophers as people

Originally posted at Talking Philosophy Magazine blog in a three-part series.

Abstract. Philosophers are best understood as people trying to better themselves and the world they are in. As members of a vocation, philosophers direct themselves to the pursuit of intellectual virtues: especially, in striving to be insightful and humble in belief, while being rigorous and cooperative in dialogue. Together, the virtues assemble into rough philosophical archetypes: what I call the ‘programmist’, the ‘lone wolf’, the ‘informalist’, and the ‘syncretist’. Typically, philosophers are both vilified for lacking in these virtues, and lionized when they possess them.

Autobiographical note: Originally published on Talking Philosophy blog, intended for a general audience, and written in a jocular style. It was generally well-received, and is a favorite of mine. Later, I learned that a similar typology was formulated on the basis of a statistical analysis of personality profiles (programmists as “builders”, informalists as “explorers”, lone wolves as “directors”, and syncretists as “negotiators”). That is a happy convergence of opinion.

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