Around many of my circles I hear people talking about sociological aspects of philosophy. What do I mean when I say this? Let me clarify. The sociology of philosophy concerns philosophy as an academic practice, not the subject matter, but the conduct of its practitioners. Here are some things that could be pointed out:
1. Philosophy is professionalised to the point of being an ‘occupation’ instead of a ‘vocation’
2. Proper philosophy has become so specialised and insular that non-philosophers are unwelcome to participate.
3. Philosophy as a job, aims for various job related goals: tenure, reputation, publication, the first of these three is very hard these days
4. Philosophy and wider social phenomena: the economic situation has had an impact on philosophy, the “New Atheism” movement draws a lot of philosophers, but on the other hand, draws out the most philistinic of them. As was pointed out in a previous post, those who call themselves new atheists to some extent show themselves to be uninteresting insofar as they exhibit a lack of awareness to the ‘old’ atheism (I don’t like either of the terms…)
5. A lot of initiatives are being made about being more sensitive in the politics of identity; I have been told of a group known as the “Sheffield Feminists”, for instance, the leader of which, is well known for positively endorsing women-friendly departments.
6. The relationship between philosophy as a university subject, and other subjects; physics, for instance, mathematics, or, the (dark) arts, who normally talk about those dirty continentals.