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External Vision and Identity

Updated: Feb 20

A beautiful atmosphere.

Sometimes I think of a certain quote from Epictetus, the same quote that led me and my former master into our separate ways: "Life is a theater, and you are an actor in it. " Someone else, however, has assigned you a role."

Perhaps throughout my life I have underestimated the confidence and certainty that might be embedded through external vision. Perhaps this overlooking was the same thing that led me to a life of semi-solitude, and of being called "irrelevant" by the one I used to love the most.

On a logical level, external vision has always been a problem for me. It was and is difficult for me to know whose perspective is more reliable. Is it the outlook of those who love you the most or the outlook of a foreign critic?

Because I never found a satisfactory answer, I began to dismiss external vision entirely.

After watching a certain show about a character who is somewhat similar to me, I realized that I am stuck between two extremes.

On the one hand, I've written a lot, which is quite impressive for someone my age. On the other hand, I am too irrelevant to be worthy of the company of my former love interest. Positive as well as negative feedback has been given to me. I just don't know whom I can trust the most without giving in to bias.

This is why I feel kind of lost, even though I believe this situation is not unique to me. I don't know if I'm a good enough philosopher, or just a sore loser who writes just to feel like his life has any meaning or influence on the world.

I feel as if I am swimming against a sea of intense waves, trying to put enough power into swimming, and making sure I have enough breathing space throughout.

My former master once told me that humans must be described by others or they will lose their grip on reality; This was more than a decade ago. However, he also told me, a while later, that no one in my situation should be alone. I am not sure what he meant.

I call him "former" because no matter how much I wrote, he would always find something to complain about, no matter how big or small the object of complaint. I had enough of his whining, so I don't speak to him as much as I used to as a teenager.

I'm curious what my life would be like today if I had any friends who weren't on the computer. I wonder if, then, I would feel more satisfied with my own identity.

Being a philosopher is hard when you have so many things to be skeptical about, including your own title; and it's not something that only you will be skeptical about. Sometimes it's others who, due to something that makes them whine, would question you as well.

It's so frustrating to not have a certain grip on what is correct and what is not, on what is actually true and what is false. Even your own supporters are to be questioned because the fact they support you doesn't mean they are correct, and vice versa.

The only grasp that I have on anything is logical reasoning. If I choose to do something that isn't as practical, I might question that action's continuation; if I choose to do something that brings me a sense of productivity, I will continue to do it with no hesitation.

However, when it comes to identity, it is much more complicated than that. It is largely complicated because it's subjective.

Even figures who are known on a national scale might not be defined by the same words or by the same meaning. With so many possible truths, it is difficult to determine which is the most accurate.

To combat that, there are plausible narratives, to define a person or character. Hitler was evil because he led to a second world war and butchered millions in concentration camps; Einstein was a genius scientist because he discovered the theory of relativity.

However, when it comes to figures such as Benjamin Netanyau, Israel's PM, or even Donald Trump, it is difficult to truly determine their character unless you have a certain narrative on politics.

Put two people in the same room that share similar narratives, and they may agree quickly; put a leftist and a right-winger in said room instead, and their time would get a lot more complicated.

It is reasonable for me to continue my narrative as a successful philosopher because that's how I truly want it to be.

However, reality and desire do not always match. When I watched that show I spoke about earlier, a thought came to mind:

"What if I am a loser who lives on welfare and is a university dropout because he was too stressed out?" In that show, my "condition" of isolation was treated like a disease. If you are familiar with Japanese culture, it's called "hikikomori,", and I am indeed like that. It was only yesterday that I got out for a walk after weeks of being shut in.

That ungrateful baker called me "irrelevant," but what if I am, simply because of that "disease," the choice to live in solitude to the extent of being a hermit of sorts? What if my writings do not mean anything on a grand scale when even your own neighbors or town don't know who you are?

All of this time, money, and energy spent on philosophizing is not something I am willing to give up and may never be. I don't care if she referred to me as irrelevant or if that hater referred to me as pretentious.

In the end, we are all biased in some way, and not all biases are necessarily bad or irrational. When my cat comes in and disturbs my writing, it is because he loves me, and the reason for his existence stems from the fact that I specifically provide him with affection, even though others may also do so.

However, he does not know them, so he would be too cowardly to love them as well. When you are patriotic toward your country, is it likely because you were born in that country or have lived in it for many years? Should you have a different country to live in or be born in, perhaps your patriotism would be directed differently.

It is thus reasonable for a person to be biased toward themselves, for they cannot escape themselves until death. It's something that not even marriage can necessarily do in all cases.

Why not, in this competitive world, fight for oneself, for one's legitimacy? Perhaps if I were a different friend of the disapproving baker, I would agree with her that "I/he" is irrelevant, simply because I am positively biased towards said baker, as is expected in friendships.

However, because I am myself, it would be natural for me to oppose this position or give up on ever making a contribution to this world!

We are, ultimately, tribal beings, even when it comes to our own vision of things and beings. The same applies to the truth itself.

Being completely unbiased isn't possible in all cases, especially when your life depends on it. Perhaps a pretender in philosophy would not tie their personal life to their craft because they would not take it seriously or invest as much time in it.

I suppose that is a possible objective I can remind myself of – and you, if you decide to apply this "write or die" methodology to your own compatible department (work, love life, et cetera).

65 views2 comments


roland leblanc
roland leblanc
Feb 22, 2022

Dear Mr. Tomasio Rubinshtein ,

nice article; indeed it seems that we can identify our selves using two appropriate methods:

First by knowing what we are not, and, then by knowing what we are; both are useful...

If we use only one method, we loose track of the tie which is there in order to integrate and use the DATA provided by both methods...

Yes , you are right to say that we need others in order to know better; and, and but, we need also to go deep WITHIN in order to interstand (understand at a more complete level)!

Conclusion: it is when we seems lost that we progress the most as it opens new avenue and gives rise…

Replying to

Yes, I agree wholeheartedly. Thanks for commenting!


Tomasio A. Rubinshtein, Philosocom's Founder & Writer

I am a philosopher from Israel, author of several books in 2 languages, and Quora's Top Writer of the year 2018. I'm also a semi-hermit who has decided to dedicate his life to writing and sharing my articles across the globe. Several podcasts on me, as well as a radio interview, have been made since my career as a writer. More information about me can be found here.

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