Possibly True. Necessarily Entertaining.

Philosophy grads look to careers outside academia

with 19 comments

Their pastries are phenomenal!

“Thesis: toast. Antithesis: nothingness. Synthesis: bagel. This is what I call the ‘bread dialectic.’ Name of shop: Hegel’s Bagels.”

I’m sitting in Jorge Frazier’s Brooklyn apartment, listening to him pitch his new business idea. Frazier graduated last year from the University of Northern Marianas, specializing in 18th and 19th century German philosophy. On the wall behind him is a sign that reads, “Don’t be a Kant. Buss your own table.” He sees me looking. “Oh, that’s from my last place, an all-you-can-eat pizza joint called ‘Perpetual Pizza.’ For some reason it didn’t catch on.”

Frazier thinks his new business will be more successful than the last. He’s planning to set up shop right across the street from Berkeley’s Bakery, the newest philosophy-themed small business to hit New York.  “I expect to give them a run for their money,” Frazier says confidently. “Berkeley’s mincemeat pie is a thing of beauty, but their bagels are quite insubstantial.”

Facing a dismal job market, an increasing number of recently minted PhDs are turning to careers outside of academia. Certainly the most entertaining aspect of this otherwise gloomy situation is the spate of philosophy-themed small businesses that have opened in the nation’s academic hubs.

After speaking with Frazier, I drive across town to Aristotle’s Bottle, arriving just in time for the Eudaimonia Hour specials. I speak with the owner, Janet May. She opened the bar after several frustrating years of visiting assistant professorships. “I just couldn’t find a place to settle down,” she says. “Teaching an intro course on ancient philosophy here, a seminar on pleonexia there — I knew I could do better than that.”

And, by all accounts, May has done better than that. Only three years after its opening, Aristotle’s Bottle is turning a nice profit and has served as inspiration to many of the newer philosophy-themed businesses in the area. May has even helped philosopher friends come up with the ideas for Achilles and the Hair (“haircuts that don’t take forever”) and Locke Smith (locksmithing provided by your choice of a John Locke or Adam Smith impersonator).

“I don’t know what I would have done without Janet’s help,” says Jason Greer, the man behind Locke Smith and a frequent patron of Aristotle’s Bottle. “I’d probably still be stuck in the Humean Resources Department at Empirical Solutions.”

[Notes: With his permission, the “Hegel’s Bagels” line at the start of this article has been taken from Keith Spencer’s Bad Business Puns.  And if you’re familiar with Crimethinc.’s Gender Subversion poster, you might like the parody Keith made for Drivel Magazine.]


Written by fauxphilnews

May 30, 2012 at 9:43 pm

19 Responses

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  1. A physician-assisted suicide advocacy group called ‘The Will to Bereave.’

    Not to be confused with the estate planning service by the same name.

    Too grim?

    Think about that ‘Hegel’s Bagels’ line, by the way. A bagel is literally bread surrounding nothingness (the hole!). It took me a while to get that.


    May 30, 2012 at 9:45 pm

  2. As usual, outstanding.

    Tom B

    May 31, 2012 at 7:57 am

  3. I just found out at that, if you’re not logged in to a WordPress account, you might be seeing advertisements on my posts. My apologies! I’m not making any money — the ads are WordPress’s own — and I’d consider moving to a different host if other sites don’t use ads. Feel free to comment with your opinion — do you see the ads, are they obtrusive, is there another site you’d recommend?


    May 31, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    • I’m not logged in to a WordPress account, but I use Firefox and AdBlock Plus and don’t see the ads here (or anywhere else). I suggest you recommend this fix to anyone who finds ads obtrusive, rather than going to the trouble of moving to another host. As always, the faux news is phenomenal–thanks very much.

      David Stern

      June 1, 2012 at 7:22 pm

      • Good to know; thanks for your input and the AdBlock suggestion.

        (And, of course, thanks for the compliment! I’m glad to hear you like it.)


        June 1, 2012 at 9:39 pm

      • I’m on Chrome, not logged into WordPress; I see no adverts

        Phil Workman

        June 11, 2012 at 3:22 pm

    • With AdBlock on Chrome, I don’t see any ads.


      June 4, 2012 at 5:58 pm

  4. Why are they referring to Fichte at Hegel’s Bagels?

    PR Smith

    June 4, 2012 at 7:53 am

  5. I want to defend Berkeley’s Pastries. Their bagels are ideal. However, I had a bad experience with Locke Smith. My brother called them when he couldn’t open one the doors in his apartment. All they do is to carry him whilst fast asleep, into a room where is a person he longs to see and speak with; and be there locked fast in, beyond his power to get out: he awakes, and is glad to find himself in so desirable company, which he stays willingly. For that, they charge him 100 bucks, saying is not this stay voluntary? And the door’s still locked.


    June 4, 2012 at 7:02 pm

  6. Happy to have the comment there. I just wish I could put in my cv. It’s Neil Levy, btw.


    June 4, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    • Actually, I pulled it and am going to use it in a follow-up post.

      (It will get even more exposure that way, although that’s not my reason for waiting. The reason is I have more philosophy small-business puns and I figure I should just put them all together in another post.)

      Thanks again!


      June 4, 2012 at 8:08 pm

      • Feel free to use them in any way you like!


        June 4, 2012 at 8:10 pm

        • Including deleting the comment and thread, if that it would help.


          June 4, 2012 at 8:11 pm

        • Thanks!


          June 4, 2012 at 8:14 pm

  7. Don’t forget Kant’s Plastics— they synthesize manifolds.


    June 11, 2012 at 3:43 pm

  8. […] “and here is another.” While Moore’s Prosthetics isn’t actually one of the philosophy-themed small businesses popping up around the country, I couldn’t resist ducking in and asking Mr. Moore if there […]

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