Retirement

Retirement

I once heard Michael Dummett remark that he was looking forward to retirement so that he could get some work done. My sentiments exactly: work has never been so sweet as it has been post-employment. You work on what you want to work on and you don’t have to break off to fulfill your teaching (etc.) “duties”. I never retired from philosophy; I retired from teaching it (and allied occupations). I simply carried on doing what I’d been doing for forty years but without the bad bits. I don’t mean I hated teaching philosophy; on the contrary, I enjoyed it. But I didn’t enjoy the institutional framework of teaching: the formalization of it, the grading, the evaluating. Still less did I enjoy the hiring, promoting, letter writing, placement, recruitment, etc. I didn’t retire; I simply transitioned to the good stuff. I feel sorry for all the poor saps still chained to the industry we call education. I imagine Plato’s Academy was a pretty nice place to work, but the university as it has become is a miserable decline. Who does not hate university administrators these days? Who does not find half their colleagues a pain in the butt? Who loves every last one of their students? Who looks forward to a morning of writing letters of recommendation? No wonder most of the great philosophers didn’t work in universities—you can’t get any work done. Retirement (re-employment) is just a better state of mind to be in. But don’t leave it too late—don’t wait till you have nothing left to give. Retire while you can still work!

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