The title Artist…

… is kind of like the title “philosopher” —

I had a hard time, for a long time, calling myself a philosopher.  I’ve been teaching philosophy for 9 years, but just recently called myself a philosopher…. it neatly coincided with the defense of my dissertation, so I ended up as Dr. Patty, Philosopher —

I’m finding my own experience becoming a philosopher as fulfilling an analog to Andy’s definition of an “artist”.  To paraphrase Andy, an “artist” is someone who has both the skill and the vision to create something new.  When they apply their skills to their medium, they more than likely have a direction in mind but they are also open to the creative side of their sub-conscious — and willing to let that into the work.

Reading philosophy isn’t easy.  Writing papers about other philosophers isn’t all that difficult.  I don’t think that doing a lot of that kind of work makes a person a Philosopher.  Also, I hate the way the term “philosopher” and “philosophy” get thrown around by folks who have no idea about philosophy.

My big challenge was realizing that I have good ideas and smart, original, things to say about my area.  It was a confidence thing more than anything else.  The willingess to put new ideas on paper.  Those ideas don’t come from nothing, rather they come from my experiences reading philosophy, thinking about the world, learning to write effectively and evaluating my students’ writing. 

I know that I taught literally thousands of students in philosophy courses (easy to do if you have 250 students per semester..), before I considered myself a philosopher.  For that reason, I completely understand Andy’s reluctance to take on the title “artist”.  When he gets the skills and confidence level he needs to create, he’ll cross the analagous barrier I did to becoming a Philosopher.

Interestingly, the first paper I wrote as a philosopher went over very well at the conference in San Diego. if you’d like to read it, click here for the ISME link to the PDF.  It’s an interesting question — take it or leave it.  I wrote most of it on the deck just before the August submision date 🙂 — and revised it at the ‘boo.

And, for the record, some blow hard at the bar isn’t a philosopher, he’s an asshole.  A person can be both a philosopher and an asshole — and many philosophers ARE assholes –but, for the most part pontificating wind bags are just that… windbags, it takes extra effort to be a philosopher who is also a pontificating wind bag.


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