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Furthermore On Mastery -- How To Understand Mastery Today

Updated: 3 days ago

An octupus ruling over a city.
AI image by Mr. Elad Muskatel


Reclaiming Mastery: Beyond Misconceptions and Misuse

The word "Master" is one that I am very fascinated by, not only because of the prestige it accompanies, but also because of how many things it can mean in general and how specific it could be when used. Unknown to us, many of us are masters in our own ways. Masters of a house, masters of pets, and any kind of teacher could definitely be regarded as masters themselves.

The problem with this almost-mystical word is the fact that it could bring bad reception upon those who are courageous enough to use that term in a common setting. When you call yourself a "master", people could easily think of you as either delusional, megalomaniac, condescending, or pretentious.

That possible reception is a problem because, in theory, it takes us away from the possibility of better understanding ourselves through underrated words. Words are, after all, tools we use to understand existence and ourselves in it. Why limit our own understanding because of social conventions?

Reclaiming the Value of Self-Made Masters

In Chinese, the term for master is "Shifu", which is synonymous with "Sensei" in Japanese. According to what I managed to read, it is literally translated to a "skilled person", a "teacher" or a "tutor". In any case, none of these words are harmful when used in a casual setting, unless your skill is questioned.

However, in a world largely dominated by certificates, degrees, and honorary titles, it is difficult to call yourself "master" because if you do so, you'll have to constantly prove yourself to those who doubt you. Therefore, that word, with all the self-love that it might bring with it, is largely shunned by society, simply because of its connotation.

As I wrote in a previous article, beyond the necessity of certification to qualify for a job, universities and other institutions of higher education are just not that necessary, despite the prestige and social status that follow them.

It is because of my refusal to get degrees in philosophy, for example, that I saved much. I just didn't spend anymore money on information I could get online or acquire by philosophizing!

The only reason I would've needed a degree is because many jobs require you to have certification in general, and that's the way we are indoctrinated by society to believe that we have qualified worth that's beyond others' assessments of ourselves (even though it isn't necessarily the case, as certificates are social constructions, woven in the inter-subjective layer of existence, AKA communication).

Imagine spending countless amounts of your currency just for the opportunity of having a job. I'm not talking about certifications that are necessarily required, like in medicine and mechanics.

I'm talking about the humanities -- from community management to content writing to any profession that is more abstract in nature. What these position providers fail to realize is, that there isn't one way to be qualified for every single job, as displayed in the 2 metaphorical factions of pilosophy of sorcery and wizardry.

When you write books and articles on things, like I've done, they should be, in a more fair world, reviewed and judged just like with a certificate. Were these works worthless because the person themselves had no academic certification while crafting them? Really? Wouldn't that be a great overlook that's based on ad-hominem/appeal to authority?

Academic studies are not for everyone, and because of that, not everyone would legitimately get jobs they can do. With or without a degree or any other kind of certifying document.

The detestation for the word "master" comes from the fact that we as a society have narrowed our perspective on the worth of people, when such worth exists beyond a piece of paper that is very costly and very difficult to achieve. Thus, we may often fail to utilize self-appreciation.

Just for the opportunity to get money, people choose to invest much of their wealth in academics, while practically, they could do the same thing to get money, without the "middleman" of being an academic gatekeeper.

Thus, if we wish to see the true worth of people, we should value less highly the notion of official certification, and instead see people for what they are: individuals with skills that do not necessarily translate to countless hours of study and exams.

Does the way have to always matter, when both travelers reach their destination? Roads, whether taken much or not as frequently, are just means for one to reach the same destination.

When I quit university, I also did so because I realized that philosophizing does not require certification, but that wasn't the only reason I decided to stop.

Forging Paths to Mastery in a Changing World

I also did so because the academics stressed me out and eventually exhausted me due to my disabilities. In other words, if I had different personality traits, and weren't easily exhausted by reading (which I did plenty of back then), I could've had at least one or two degrees. The academic life is tiring, expansive and takes time off one from work. If I wouldn't collapse under the stress, I might've continued.

It wasn't that I failed in my studies; both work and the academics exhausted me to the point of anxiety.

And because of that, some commentator on Quora a long time ago disregarded a comment I made on something, simply because I didn't have the very expensive piece of paper called a "degree" within my possession.

It is not enough that I have written six philosophy books in two languages and hundreds of articles; it is a fixed mindset to believe that if you are not educated in a certain way, you are not educated at all.

That, you see, is absurd. To claim that there is always one way to attain knowledge, one way to understand things ---- that is through highly expensive studies and assignments that could harm your mental health due to high stress, is absurd!

We all have our difficulties that hinder us from actualizing our talents, and from becoming masters of our crafts. Should we make these fields more accessible, and less elitist, we can make fields like philosophy far, far more relevant!

What I'm trying to say is, being a "master" before the hegemony of academics was something relatively easy to be seen as. All you had to do was be skilled at something. Just like Socrates.

In ancient China, they would call them Shifus; in ancient Japan, Senseis; and in ancient Greek, they would call them philosophers, and the latter is what I see myself as: a skilled man in writing logic-based, non-fiction content, which is philosophy.

Due to my ability to live around the minimum wage and still live decently, I managed to live off the grid of modern life (basically, through asceticism). This means that I do not need to invest tons of cash just to be qualified for something I could do even without certification.

However, I am a special case, as not everyone is willing to just abandon their original lives and live in tiny apartments in distant parts of their countries away from their families in a hermitic fashion. Yes. I live in isolation in search for some peace. Peace I use to focus on my craft. This is a great sacrifice, and to this day I don't really know anyone here.

In other words, many people will still have to sacrifice much of their finances, and even suffer crippling debt, just for a prestigious piece of paper; a modern-equivalent form of saying "you are a master indeed in that field".

I believe that, there should be exemptions from degrees, simply because there could still be roads less traveled when it comes to one's education. Ways that do not have to sacrifice one's mental health for. When there are so many alternatives today to academic institutions -- just like in the distant past and even more than then -- the value of academics decreases, or at least should decrease in the eyes of people.

If we want to extend our pool of possible employees that could, potentially, get a job well done just as well as an academic graduate, then we should see the person beyond their liabilities.

Do you know what was the most insulting thing I received while I was on interviews? I was considered, during the interview, to be denied the position, simply because I have Asperger's. After all, if I have that disability, it could cause problems in the workplace! Absurd!

The interviewer was impressed by me, and I was willing to start the position "the next day" per se, but for some reason my inborn liability was in the way, as if it were my fault that I am autistic. Just like my liability of chronic fatigue... the symptom, not the syndrome. It stood in my way of academic success.

Mastery in an Age of Accessibility

In the end, it is the necessary skill that is required in order to see the job through to completion. It is the same thing that is required as the bare minimum to be considered a "master" by ancient standards. It doesn't matter if you have something others can't get just because they have liabilities that hinder them from getting it. They practically can do the job as well as you could!

Consider the fact that some of us, like me, are always, always tired. There are some things we can't do. But, on the other hand, there are things we can do, but through different means. I use my site to learn things others learn in paid courses. It's called experience, and it's called getting insights.

Either way, the master learns.

Mr. Nathan Lasher's Notes

You can master something, as in having a ton of knowledge on something, or you can master something so well that you will set the ceiling on how much mastery you have. World leading experts would be a prime example. So would the number one chess player in the world. Many have mastered this but they still stand alone by themselves.
Why do people associate mastery with an ability to be good at everything? Mastery is exclusive to the topic you choose to be a master at. Sure there are exceptions. Polymaths for instance can be seen as masters in many fields.
True mastery is a solitary activity. It involves becoming so focused on something that everything else falls to the back of your mind. Your whole world revolves around that activity. You run the risk of dealing with pseudo intellectuals who assume that because they might know a wider range of things that they must be smarter than you. Again added the benefit of polymathy as you can go out and learn whatever you like to prove them wrong.
Mastery has a disadvantage. You realize how much you know about one topic and make it painfully aware of just how little you actually know. You spent so much time focusing on one thing that you forgot to focus on other things along the way. All about accepting those masters as they can add to the collective knowledge as a whole.
They are important to life's ecosystem. How will we ever grow as a species if people don’t become masters and push understanding ahead of what it currently is? All mastery is having a greater understanding of something than that of most people in the world. Thus supplying the opportunity to help their understanding grow.

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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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