Human Relations In Philosophy
Updated: Jul 30, 2023
When it comes to philosophy-based relations with other people, by experience, it's like entering a public restroom in a building you have yet to visit. Either it's going to be clean and decent, or it's going to be either disgusting or at least uncomfortable. In other words, as philosophers, much of the reception we have from others, is very much a product of our actions, than that of our own, as people.
What do I mean by that? I refer to basic and poor ways of treating other people, that are based on the ad-hominem fallacy. If you happen to interact with a very toxic person, for example, they might find labels, in their own mind, to use on you, simply because you "don't look good in their eyes", as we say in Hebrew.
It's also their choice to refer either to our actions or to ourselves. People have different degrees of rationality. I'd say that logic is more learned than gifted. And the more people would prioritize their focus on the person in front of them, rather than their words, during a discussion, then they are bound to use irrationalities such as ad-hominem. And to degrade you even further, they might use the strawman's fallacy.
Even if you try to be as logical and appealing as possible as a philosopher, some people are very hard to please. Some are even impossible. In the end, it's not only about you being a logical person. It's also about the chemistry between you and the people who engage with your work, either by reading, listening, or discussing. It's also about social dynamics. And more specifically -- poltiics.
As the cliché says, you cannot please everyone, and the same applies to philosophy. You can write entire books on philosophical subjects, and there will still be people who will be firm in their beliefs that, you don't know what you're talking about, or that you're pretentious. An idiot, even. Hasty judgments, reinforced by confidence, sin in ad-hominem.
(Personal attacks deserve to be undesired in philosophy. And they're undesired in Philosocom, too).
Thus, when you show your work to other people, especially if they are strangers, you should first ask yourself: "How ready am I to face possible toxicity?" The answer determines whether or not you'll be resilient enough to endure their offensive words.
Even among fish, different types of fish will coexist harmoniously. That's while other types can be in constant conflict with one another. I was told that by a shopkeeper as a kid when I used to have an aquarium. The same logic applies psychologically to different kinds of people.
Even if you are to become a globally known philosopher, know that not all people will greet you with open arms, because as long as you hold a position -- any position -- there will be people who will either dislike you or bluntly oppose you. Be prepared. Regardless of the conclusions you'll reach in philosophy, there will be at least one or two people who will think that you're either a hoax or simply a stupid person. At times, such conclusions may be reached very quickly, even if false.
From my experience, humans in general are easy to whine. Should we find something that we believe is wrong or incorrect, it alone could bias our perception of an idea or of a person. It's a bias capable of overshadowing the other good aspects involved. So it is when it comes to being a public philosopher.
Don't strive to be the perfect philosopher, one that everyone would like, because that is impossible. Strive to be a logical philosopher, because philosophy isn't about appealing to those who choose to whine, but about better understanding the world through logical means. Remember: Imperfection does not justify steering clear from improvement. Their insults might as well be irrelevant to the role you've given yourself. And the same goes for any disrespect you may receive in your occupation.
As people, we are very biased toward things that bother us and that have bothered us over the course of our lives. It's what makes us triggered by one type of situation and apathetic by another type. Some people would be irritated by the names of articles. Others would be annoyed by the way the philosopher writes. Others will not be triggered at all, as they believe they have no reason to be triggered (the third type might be the audience you're looking for).
All in all, there is no justice in philosophizing publicly because it all depends on what kind of people are exposed to your content. What makes philosophers more appreciated than others, isn't necessarily their logical reasoning. It's the positive reputation they have, just like with any other type of occupation. A reputation that is the product of your service. In the end, there is a separation between believing a person is logical, and that they are indeed logical. Those who fall victim to their own delusions, might see you as irrational. Those who are open-minded enough to question their beliefs are the audience you deserve.
Human relations in public philosophy are as imperative as in any other field of study or work. Any field that isn't solitary, that is. If you do something that'll put you to shame, and that thing goes viral on the internet, people might remember that. And people might have this as a component in their perspective when they examine your work.
That's just the way we humans are -- biased by our memories. By our positions on said memories, too. You can't just use something ridiculous, such as time travel, to alter their past. And not their inner experience of things. Not their cultural biases or anything that has shaped their brain until now. All you can do is philosophize as best you can and hope that you will receive the recognition and respect you may believe you deserve for your work. Acting politely, like a professional, can help, but that does not guarantee the gratitude of many.
My arch-nemesis, whom I loved so much, does not like me. Hence her final desire to reject me from her world. When I asked her what I had done, she said that I had done nothing wrong. The same can go for you as a public philosopher: Do nothing wrong, and even if people will leave you, at least you will build and retain your dignity.
At times, it is only because of your chemistry with them that they will dislike you, if not despise you. In the end, we're biased creatures, and that bias must be further recognized if we wish to further understand human reality. Final note: The philosopher isn't necessarily a powerful figure. His credibility does not stem from himself. It stems from the content he or she provides. From the reasoning and help that content may have. Please do not delude yourself into believing that you have power over other people that you do not.