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7 Notes About Philosophy -- How To Understand Philosophy With Greater Clarity

Updated: Jul 9

Philosophy is a field that to this day remains within the more-esoteric sphere of study, due to both the difficulties of studying philosophy, and due to other fields, mostly scientific, that are becoming more dominant in the quest for knowledge, wisdom and truth. Because of being kicked within the relatively-far corner of intellectual roles and/or occupations, there are some things that might remain misunderstood about it.

Hence why I made a list of a few things that should be considered when it comes to philosophy:

1. You don’t have to have a degree in philosophy to be a philosopher. Having a degree in philosophy is nice and impressive, but insufficient for one to be considered a philosopher. It’s not like in other areas of academic study that applies you the title of what you’re studying. In toher words, studying philosophy isn’t the same as philosophizing.

When you study philosophy you try to understand an existing text. Philosophizing, however, compels you to not only consume existing content but also create your own. And unlike in other fields, such as medicine, you don't need to be qualified academically doing just that. The belief that this quallification exists leads to the redundancy of the same result problem. For this matter, the concept I just mentioned is my own because I devised it by philosophizing. As such, studying a concept is not the same as creating it. Philosophizing compels you to study in order to devise.

That's while getting a degree requires you to only study existing material. And that's why a degree alone in philosophy does not make you a philosopher but a scholar in this field; someone with much aquired knowledge, rather than knowledge created by themselves through creativity and the synthesis of existing notions.

Teaching about other philosophers and their history is not the same as coming up with new ideas, insights and concepts for you and others to consider. And indeed, one of the reasons why I quit university is because I realized I don't have much to do with a potential philosophy degree beyond lecturing about the work of others. It makes such a degree not only not exactly necessary, but also fairly impractical for researches I can conduct on my own.

​2. You don't have to be well-versed in the philosophy of famous philosophers in order to be a philosopher. Having knowledge about them and their philosophies can surely contribute to your knowledge and improve your reputation.

However, that contribution isn't necessary for the title of "philosopher" to be applied. A philosopher is a philosophy content creator, or one that contemplates on reality and then records it somehow, whether alone or through students (as in the example of Socrates, who wasn't a writer, and had Plato record his thoughts).

Contemplating on the deeper aspects of existance and/or having them published is all it takes to philosophize. Be recognized for it, as something you do like an occupation, and you will become a philosopher like a nation exists de-facto because it's widely recognized as such. As an analogy, the pretentious philosopher, the make-believe intellectual, is like a micronation -- classified for no official recognition whatsoever.

Just look at very early philosophers, who technically had little-to-no other examples of previous philosophers to follow, and they were still philosophers nonetheless. The existance of a precursor is not necessary, only beneficial.

For comparison, having a lot of knowledge about famous Nazis and Nazism does not make yourself a Nazi. An intrinsic trait, or a set of traits, is required to be a philosopher as prerequisites. Another set of traits is required in order to be a good philosopher, AKA, good at philosophizing.

Being well-versed in other philosophers doesn't by itself make you a philosopher like being well versed in the history of Nazism doesn't make you a nazi. Maybe an armchair historian at best, through extensive study, in both cases of this analogy. And while a historian doesn't have to "make history" or be a historic figure, he or she produces content as well.

Content is therefore proof of philosophership.

3. By large, being a philosopher isn't a job unless it's academic. The closest one can be a philosopher as a profession nowadays, that's not academic in nature is to either lecture or publish writings that are about philosophy, independently. In other words, a contemporary philosopher can be any kind of philosophy content creator, whether that content is monetized or not, through whatever media available to sufficiently transfer philosophical ideas (blogs, videos, and so forth).

Whether or not forms like reels and tiktok videos are competent at delivering philosophical content competently is debateable. Despite their thriving online, these forms of media delivery are with good reason considered teasers, instead of something sufficient like an article.

Thus, anyone who creates philosophical content on a regular basis can be regarded as a philosopher, especially when the content that is created is of their own rather than of other philosophers. Like in the retail industry, each philosopher is their own brand of content creation.

Arguably, can we really say that making teaser-like philosophy shorts is competent for one to be a good philosopher? I'm leaving this debate for you to contemplate. Let's move on.

4. Based On What I Wrote, Philosophy doesn't have to be purely academic. Philosophers do not depend themselves on academic studies unless they are looking for financial security as academics. Nietzsche for a large portion of his life was an independent philosopher, for example, and wasn't an academic philosopher, but a professor of classical philology who resigned early.

Another example is David Hume who failed becoming a philosophy professor, only finding a full-time job in his 40's as a library keeper.

Additionally, not everyone, including philosophers, are fit for the intensity of the academic life. Whether or not they have the financial ability to afford it, the demanding regimen of study can deplete one's energies and demotivate them.

By viewing academia as a "middle man", we can cut it off from our lives while still being educated in our own ways.

5. Philosophy isn't necessarily the "love of wisdom." Being a lover of wisdom doesn't make you a philosopher. It is just that the analytic meaning of philosophy is the "love of wisdom," but not the synthetic part of it (AKA, the meaning that exists beyond mere terminology). The synthetic and contemporary aspect of philosophy is that it is the attempt of finding possible truths through logical inquisition, backed up by evidence preferably.

Since philosophers usually love inquiring through logic, then they are technically regarded as lovers of wisdom, since if we wouldn't love inquiring, we wouldn't be philosophers. That's however true only in theory, when we're clearly able to do things regardless of what we feel about them. Acting independently from desire can by the same token not make writers depend on "muses" in order to work. They will instead work like any other worker.

Since the search for truth is often associated with passion, philosophy itself is associated with a certain love to its own craft, as those who dislike philosophizing, are not very likely to philosophize; it's like a philosopher would say that they hate their jobs. And yet, we can do things with little or without emotion, making emotion irrelevant despite the analytic meaning of the term "philosophy".

6. It isn't that philosophy is reaching its demise in our modern times. It is just that it is getting less and less popular because it is largely believed that scientific experimentation is sufficient to replace the elementary purpose of philosophy.

However, science cannot answer questions that are largely if not purely based on logical inquisition, because science is a form of finding truths through empirical means, not through logical or literal means.

The latter is done by philosophy, especially when it comes to purpose-based questions. If science would have been able to find all truths and possible truths, including those with little necessary connection to pure empiricism, then indeed philosophy wouldn't be as necessary, nor read, by countless of people across the world.

And if it won't end by a severe decline in public interest, it will only end after generations of ruthless research of reality.

7. While debating is often regarded a core work in philosophy, not all philosophers are fit to debate with, nor are willing to debate at all times, if at all.

That is because not everyone has the mental energies to occupy oneself in a long-term debate. Debates can be frustrating, exhausting, and even hostile if your debater does not want to respect your assessments. Consider the fact that interpersonal relationships and their state are important part of debate and discussion.

Do not engage aimlessly with people if you're not a people person. It will only keep them away from reading you on the long run. Such insights are often learned through experience and through knowing yourself better.

As such, the fact that a philosopher will refuse to debate does not necessarily mean they are afraid of being debunked. It is just that not everyone has the energy, time, or will to do so. Of course, should they refuse to debate with you, their decision should at least be tolerated, even if it eventually disappoints.

Thank you for taking the time to read and I hope I have contributed to your knowledge with this article. If you enjoyed reading it, please consider sharing it with others, so we will all bring forth the notion that philosophy, in the end, is not dead, and deserves exposure in general.

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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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