I’m posting here in meta about this question: Has formalized philosophy become stagnant and obsolete?. It was not my question, but I don't think it was closed for the right reason.

The first question below was closed as a duplicate of the second.

  1. Is there a specific method for establishing who deserves the title “philosopher”? [duplicate]

  2. Is everyone considered a “philosopher”?

This puzzles me, because the questions are clearly not synonymous. “X is a philosopher” and “X deserves the title of philosopher” are two different claims.

If this seems unclear, substitute the term “diver” for “philosopher.”

Arguably, every intact human who has had swimming lessons is a diver, in that they can safely dive into the water. But this does not imply that every human who has had swimming lessons deserves to have the title of diver. In fact, there are specific methods of determining who deserves such a title, including qualifying for a high school, college, or professional diving team.

I upvoted “question 1” above because it’s not a duplicate and because it provoked at least one intelligent answer.

However, those think that the question deserved to be closed might defend themselves by noting the question's triviality. The lazy tendency to omit qualifiers such as “professional” or “academic” from phrases that refer to paid scholars or specialists does not raise important philosophical issues as far as I can tell.

1 Answer 1


I still don't see how they are different. In your counter-example, you write, "...But this does not imply that every human who has had swimming lessons deserves to have the title of diver." And why not? The distinction you attempt to raise is addressed in the answers to the other question; For example, Michael Dorfman's answer:

In the absence of context, this is definitely a semantic debate.

Is anyone who ever played a note on a musical instrument a musician? Is anyone who has ever written a word on paper a writer? Clearly not, for most intended purposes of those terms.

When we speak of someone as "a philosopher", we are usually intending someone whose dominant activity has been an engagement with the philosophical tradition-- but this usage will vary on context.


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