The School of Athens, by Raphael, depicting the central figures of Plato and Aristotle, and other ancient philosophers exchanging knowledge.

A philosopher, in a broad sense, is someone who studies philosophy. The word "philosopher" comes from the Ancient Greek φιλόσοφος (philosophos), which means "lover of wisdom". The introduction of the terms "philosopher" and "philosophy" has been ascribed to the Greek thinker Pythagoras.[1]

A philosopher, in the more narrow and common usage, is any intellectual who has made contributions in one or more current fields of philosophy, such as aesthetics, ethics, epistemology, logic, metaphysics, social theory, and political philosophy. A philosopher may also be one who worked in the humanities or other sciences which have since split from philosophy proper over the centuries, such as the arts, history, economics, sociology, psychology, linguistics, anthropology, theology, and politics.[2] They may relate this knowledge to the discussion of philosophical problems.

In the classical sense, a philosopher is someone who lives according to a way of life, whose focus is upon resolving existential questions about the human condition. Typically, these particular brands of philosophy are Hellenistic ones and those who most arduously commit themselves to this lifestyle may be considered a philosopher. An example of the expected standards of this definition is Marcus Aurelius, who is widely regarded as a philosopher in the modern sense, but personally refuses to call himself by such a title, since he had a duty to live as an emperor.[3]

In both definitions, philosophers address these questions through critical, systematic and reasoned approaches.


  • Modern academia 1
  • Women in philosophy 2
  • Prizes in philosophy 3
  • References 4

Modern academia

In the modern era, those attaining advanced degrees in philosophy often choose to stay in careers within the educational system. According to a 1993 study by the National Research Council (as reported by the American Philosophical Association), 77.1% of the 7,900 holders of a Ph.D. in philosophy who responded were employed in educational institutions (academia). Non-academic philosophers can employ their skills in a great number of other careers, such as medicine, bioethics, business, publishing, free-lance writing, media, and law.[4]

Women in philosophy

Historically, philosophy has been dominated by male thinkers. This has become less true in the modern era as more women enter the field, and some female philosophers have come to prominence, such as Marilyn McCord Adams, Patricia Churchland, Ayn Rand, Elizabeth Anscombe, and Susan Haack.

Prizes in philosophy

Prominent prizes in Philosophy include the Avicenna Prize, the Kyoto Prize in Arts and Philosophy and the Rolf Schock Prizes.


  1. ^ φιλόσοφος. Liddell, Henry George; Scott, Robert; A Greek–English Lexicon at the Perseus Project
  2. ^ Shook, John R., ed. (2010). Dictionary of Modern American philosophers (online ed.). New York: Oxford University Press. p. Introduction.  
  3. ^ Meditations 8.1 - Wikisource
  4. ^ APA Committee on Non-Academic Careers (June 1999). "A non-academic career?" (3rd ed.).