• DP Brah
    23
    On the level of someone that's invented theories and what have you. What's the easiest way to reach these people?
  • TheMadFool
    555
    Become one!
  • darthbarracuda
    2k
    Honestly this is probably the number one reason why I wish I could become a philosopher myself. I'd just love to have the chance to communicate and interact with some of these people; critique their views, refine my own, get tenure and write a controversial book.
  • TheMadFool
    555
    Good luck. I'm sure you can do it.
  • Michael
    2.5k
    Email them?

    E.g. David Chalmers' email address is given on his info page here.

    On the old forum someone got in touch with a few (Chalmers, Priest, and Searle) and they responded to some questions we had for them, debating for a little while.
  • tom
    877
    If I thought I'd "invented theories and what have you", I'd probably want to try out my ideas in a forum before inflicting them on busy professionals.

    That said, I do follow several philosophers on Twitter.
  • Terrapin Station
    2.7k


    Simply email them. Not every philosopher you email will get back to you, for a variety of reasons, including that maybe they don't check their email very well beyond scanning it for emails from their institution etc., and depending on what time in a semester you email them they might be too busy, but most will get back to you eventually if you're respectful, if you express curiosity and exhibit some intelligence and a lack of craziness, etc.

    It's not as if they're rock stars or movie stars who have thousands and thousands of people who want to contact them and so they put up a buffer that's difficult to get through. Their busiest email time is during a semester wherever they're teaching, but that's not typically that much email. Many philosophers are happy to hear from interested laypersons/philosophical hobbyists--it lets them know that they're reaching people outside of what can seem like a pretty insular world.
  • Hanover
    1.1k
    Speaking only for myself, if someone contacted me in my professional capacity (and I'm not a philosopher), I'd likely respond to something very specific that for some reason I knew that others might not, and I'd be far more likely to respond to another member of my profession than just someone who were curious. That is, I wouldn't be likely to start offering general conversation just to tutor someone. If the person were an enrolled student (anywhere) and had a specific assignment he was trying to complete, I would be likely to help him out. I'd also be receptive to mentoring someone new in the profession.

    The point of all this is that if someone started providing me his various theories and ideas just for general feedback, I'd lose patience quickly and cite to him a few articles to get him started and then start ignoring him. I understand that might only describe me, but I am the poster child of reasonableness, so I would expect all reasonable people to do as I would. The truth is that if you have all sorts of philosophical questions, you'll probably be encouraged by the philosopher to sign up for a class. That will give you much greater access to philosophers of all sorts.
  • Thorongil
    1.3k
    Seeing as most professors often don't even reply to the emails of their own students, you can be assured that your attempts to contact them in such a manner will be ignored.
  • Terrapin Station
    2.7k


    I've had pretty good luck contacting people via email, as long as they bother with email beyond necessity in the first place.

    I can't speak for this as a student, because my student days were prior to everyone having email (and they were mostly prior to general public use of the Internet period).
  • lambda
    40
    Write a controversial book? Dude, the chances that anybody will actually read your work is close to nil.

    Professors usually spend about 3-6 months (sometimes longer) researching and writing a 25-page article to submit an article to an academic journal. And most experience a twinge of excitement when, months later, they open a letter informing them that their article has been accepted for publication, and will therefore be read by… an average of ten people.

    http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/blog/why-professors-are-writing-crap-nobody-reads
  • Carbon
    19
    Try 3-6 months plus RR (revise and resubmit), then still getting rejected by the EiC (Editor in Chief) and having to resubmit to a new journal. By the time it's published most people aren't excited - they're kind of pissed it took so long and are ready to be done with their paper since - odds are - they're on to other projects (in addition to other school year activities).

    And as a few others have pointed out: email. Terrapin Station above is completely correct - they're not rock stars or celebrities. Their work isn't controversial or world-shattering - not these days at least, that's not what academia is really about in a contemporary setting. I've met a few biggies - the supposedly "famous" Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and the "legendary" Dan Dennett for example. The former is just a normal guy (hell my buddy picked him up from the airport as I recall, because he didn't know how to get to the conference location), and Dan seemed like he could keel over any minute from some age-related malady. Even Searle is a laid back guy - 90% sure he'll respond to any email you send him in less than a week. In fact if you offer to pay for his plane ticket and meet whatever his honorarium is (probably like $1,000) he might even come to your dinner party.

    There are only two worst case scenarios when emailing these jokers. First, you come off like a freaking lunatic who wants to tell them your latest crack-pot theory and they mark you as spam (I can attest that this does happen). Second, and more likely, you email them and they're busy so they don't respond to you in a timely manner or they have an office assistant respond to your email for them (usually just saying they'll get back to you when they can).
  • DP Brah
    23
    lol!!

    Thanks for your insights, very helpful.

    Thanks to everyone else for contributing, your help is much appreciated.
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