Philosophy is a way of life based on a passion for the creation of concepts, analyses, and arguments. All the rest is just a Game of Thrones, the calculations and positionings of Hom Academicus. A philosophy professor can be a philosopher in the sense just described, but this needn’t be the case. Anyone could attend Deleuze’s and Lyotard’s and Foucault’s and Michel Serres’ seminars, and if you had the nerve to ask a question you got an answer, usually a very good one. So the idea that a professor should not be expected to respond to criticism or even questions on the social networks, when he administers a facebook group or publishes a blog is a little strange.
Philosophy is not about opinions and publicity, but is one of the ways of individuating ourselves in a world vaster and more creative than the world of opinion. If a lay-reader individuates by means of philosophy without being a card-carrying philosophy professor this all the more to his or her credit, as life is short and material and affective means are scarce. If a philosophy professor shows he is more interested in the academic Game of Thrones than in pursuing the argument wherever it can lead us, that is his shame.
Money is no argument. Nor is “superior” scholarship. I have known many professors with superior scholarship that were dry as dust and dead as zombies, little pawns put in place while better people were discouraged, driven into fleeing into other fields. The sad thing is that on the internet you do not find a utopia, but the same castes and classes and cliques, the same social stratifications as in the rest of the world.
Some academics are glad to read and cite Bourdieu, or some other sociologist, without applying it to themselves and their milieu. The personal has lots of social in it, and “social” means power relations. The professional is the political. Readers are not paranoid if they see a dark underside to many public discussions in the world of ideas, nor should one feel intellectually mediocre and insignificant if one is not a philosophy professor. The only solution is to continue your individuation despite the traps, obstacles, and social and intellectual boycotts put up by unscrupulous academic game players.
Many philosophers have talked about this. Gilles Deleuze talked of the nomad image of thought and the private thinker versus the state image of thought and the bureaucrat. He distinguishes between the vitality of a philosophical becoming that can traverse us and lead us on a process of individuation containing many other becomings and the sterility of “reflection” in its private and public forms. Paul Feyerabend declared that his official job or profession was “thought-bureaucrat”, but that what he actually did was to write texts that upset people. In both cases it’s a question of seeking to destabilise the transcendences and go with the argumentative and conceptual flows.
Keep at it and do not to be discouraged because you are not alone: individuation trumps the Game of Thrones any day, for lots of people. I hope you find them (or more of them)!