Whenever I’m asked what I would do if I didn’t have to work, I’ve answered, “I’d be a philosopher.” Those who know me nod in agreement and don’t question it.

Although I know deeply intuitively this it the correct answer, I haven’t been able to articulate why. My Mission Statement defines me as a scholar of life seeking wisdom. What I’ve shied away from is the Philosophy that has gone before me. I want to generate my own insights and not regurgitate the past wisdom of others. In other words, I’m not learning philosophy to pass an exam, I’m learning it to apply to my own life.

I leave each day a better person than I entered it. As a scholar of life I continually learn and improve myself. Where I lack wisdom or knowledge I seek it out.

I decided to look a little deeper into what being a philosopher means so I selected a video on YouTube that looked interesting. It was Jeffrey Kaplan’s What is Philosophy? - First Lecture of the Semester and over the course of a half-hour got me to a point where my question can be answered.

When I watched the video I was sitting in two questions that were proving difficult to get a handle on, let alone answer.

  1. What does studying philosophy look like for me? What does it mean and how do I do it?
  2. What does my job role as Strategic IT Consultant look like in 2024 and to the end of my career? It’s hard work and spends most of the time in areas of grey and trade-offs with little or no supporting information.

To my absolute delight and wonder, it turns out they are not separate questions but the same.

Kaplan asserts philosophical questions are those which cannot be answered by empirical observation or evidence and cannot be answered by mathematics. Extending his examples above, my two questions are philosophical questions. That’s why they are hard to answer. Taking another step and I realised that my whole job is asking and answering philosophical questions.

For today I’m asserting that a philosopher is someone who answers philosophical questions through the use of strong argument. Learning to be a philosopher is therefore learning how to make strong arguments using the linguistic tools that have been developed by past philosophers. It’s not about learning to repeat their arguments, but to go a step further and understand how the arguments were put together.

My goal of becoming a philosopher is intimately intwined with my daily job. This has profound implications for how I frame and approach my work, my life and my value to others.