Why philosophy practice?

Here's some historic facts:

  • From 2003 to 2006 I studied philosophy at The University of Sheffield. We all had a wonderful time.
  • In 2012 I trained to teach philosophy to children with The Philosophy Foundation, who are really awesome
  • Philosophy with a little p (the kind of philosophising we all do every day) is the time-served way to take control of your life, understand it, and learn to make peace with yourself and the world

A few years back, while working as a Marketing Consultant, I got this crazed notion that you weren't really anyone if you didn't have a side-hustle. A 5-9 thing, a thing you did outside your 9-5.

Maybe I'd spent too long reading Inc and Entrepreneur and Forbes or HBR articles and swallowed the kool-aid. Or maybe there'd just been too much talking about this new gig economy we all supposedly live in, or will soon be living in, and I decided to steal a march.

Either way, I got this notion of setting up a side hustle called Peak Philosophy Practice.

It was conceived as a business that would target three markets:

  1. Schools – selling philosophy teaching to kids

  2. Businesses – selling brand philosophy (because at this time visions and values were all the rage, and talking about vision and values is philosophy bread-and-butter

  3. People – predominantly aged 23-37, early to mid careerists who'd lost their way and needed to understand their own philosophy to figure out what was good for them

I put together a business plan, built some brand assets using Canva, and then went about learning how to build a website to put a shop window out there.

Today, philosophypractice.co.uk is the fifth iteration of the website, although the first not to be built on Wordpress.

I set up payment gateways, explored and looked at e-subscription models for no.3 using Selz, Gocardless and Stripe, and set up working prototypes of each.

And I put collateral together to sell services to no.1, because I believed in this and, because I'd trained so recently and had an understanding employer, I really believed I'd be able to work this alongside my 9-5 (that was really a 6-7 but that's another story).

But that's not all.

Because at the back end of it all I was busy building a case management system after exploring pretty much every cloud CMS out there – from Pipedrive to Insightly to OnepageCRM – before finally settling on CapsuleCRM. And I set up all the syncing necessary to link in with my Google for Business (now G suite) implementation I'd implemented for me, the sole person in the business.

And some people said:

Wow. This sounds amazing Stu! What a cool idea!

And it was, it really was. But some people were also saying stop doing all this crazy stuff, it's not even a real thing.

And that was troubling.

The voice in my head was saying:

Why have you built all this infrastructure for a business you don't have any clients for, or any go-to-market strategy?

What was I playing at?

And that's when it hit me: I was *playing** at being a business owner. A side hustler. An entrepreneur.*

I was doing all the stuff they would doif I were actually launching my own side-hustle. But in reality it was a hypothetical business.

A pseudo-hustle if you will.

It was a bit galling at first, to recognise and accept this, because I'd put some serious hours into researching, building, designing, developing and committing to what I thought was going to be this awesome extra part of my life.

But after I got over my ego, swallowed down some reality about who I was and wasn't, and come to terms with this sort of San-Fran Mania, I decided to keep playing at it anyway: exploring different e-commerce options, selling commoditised services, learning how to build Wordpress sites, learning HTML, CSS, Javascript – always learning learning learning.

I kept asking questions about how would you go about doing XYZ if you were such-and-such a business or targeting this market, or what would be the best proposition for this segment.

And then I got my second insight from this whole pseudo-business:

I was asking questions, and I was raising possible responses and exploring the repercussions.

Thinking it all through (with props):

I was practising philosophy. Or doing practical philosophy (which is not quite the same).

But anyway, philosophy practice had become the enaction of philosophy in the most real terms. ust not actually anything real.

Right. So why's the site still here anyway?

So, after the girls arrived (I have two cheeky nippers) in 2014 and then in 2016, I made another practical philosophical decision:

It was time to ditch the pretensions of even the pseudo side-hustle.

By then, my mind had cleared of the hyper-capitalist milieu and I was firmly back in the realm of the living.

But I did still want a presence of some kind on the interwebs. And I had built up all this infrastructure in the background, and this skillset, including my email account which is linked to pretty much every online service I use now.

I wake up every day and practice philosophy: in how I approach my life, in how I go about my work, and the concept of philosophy as a practice is something that has rung true with me ever since studying American Pragmatists and pragmatics back in the heady summer of 2005.

So I kept the domain and use it for those rare tidbits of freelancing I do still take on, and as a vanity project.

If you want to find me, I'm here:


And/or if you want to get in touch or discuss anything about side hustles, the professional/amateurism dilemma, or any related schemes, feel free to email me on stuart@philosophypractice.co.uk.

  (( ))

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