I am a philosophy student that doubts philosophers; I can't write papers, or at least trying to make the connections emerge from details is damn near the hardest thing I've ever done. I have the right ideas (that I am sure of) and I can talk philosophy (intersbujective exp. confirms this) but my papers fall into detail etc. (No one has ever said, WOAH this paper should be published). But even when, one night, I curse the very subject matter and damn it all to hell, I wake up the next morning prepared to try again. But still, at night I try to cast the dead weight from my shoulders in despair. Question: if one's temperament is philosophic should they steer away from academic philosophy? Question 2: Should the person who falls in love with wisdom only to damn her at night continue to make the effort, indeed, should one rule out a life-long marriage with the enticing specimen?

Hmmm. You might try writing a paper as if it were meant to be heard. This constraint can often lead a writer to clarify, to simplify, to stay on the main thread of an argument, to supply examples where necessary, without getting lost in the details. A good test of the degree to which you have a hearer in mind (a smart, savvy student of your calibre, but who has not read yet the material that is the focus of your essay, is the best model of hearer) is to read your paper aloud, to yourself, and to listen very carefully: is the issue posed at too abstract a level for your hearer? does the point come across directly? is the sentence so long that it's point is difficult to discern? Are you indicating for your hearer transitions between ideas by linguistic devices (eg. "first, next .." or by section heads) that are easy to identify? Try this out and see if it helps.

Other than the fact that it is your job, why do you practice philosophy now? Bob West

I actually think that the idea that one "practices" philosophy is an intriguing one. While I agree with Alex that one doesn't practice philosophy as one might practice religion or playing piano, there is certainly a habit of the mind that one has, as a philosopher, that is nurtured by thinking hard about things as part of the daily-ness of one's life, fine-tuning one's arguments and turns of phrase so as to articulate ones position as clearly and eloquently as one possibly can. In this sense, the practicing of philosophy may be a bit like practicing a martial art -- learning techniques of defense and offense while remaining centered, focused, and comfortable standing your ground simply on the strength, beauty, and elegance of your argument/move, but flexible enough to concede in the face of a stronger, more beautiful, more persuasive move! But now I believe I have exhausted the analogy! One more thought: I see in the practicing of philosophy an exercise in freedom at the most fundamental...