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On The Path of Philosophership -- Recognition

Updated: Jun 19

(This is part of a mini-series on Philosocom on becoming a philosopher. Here are the rest of the material:

In a way, a philosopher is like the emperor of a vast, disorganized land of mixed populations; for them to recognize your position and power, you must constantly prove to them that you are indeed their legitimate emperor. Of course, being a philosopher isn't necessarily about having power OVER others, but rather having power FROM them -- from their recognition of your role, and, sometimes, of your job.

In a world where certificates from recognized institutions save you the bother of having to prove yourself repeatedly, philosophy as a discipline has been left behind, simply because having one or more degrees in philosophy does not make one a philosopher, as I said many times before. Your authority as a philosopher comes from your ability to philosophize, not from your ability to memorize past philosophers and their own methods.

As an example, there is a difference between teaching about airplanes and actually piloting one, or any other vehicle that requires further certification. You might know the structure, the capacity for oil, but the experience itself of piloting a vehicle is something that you, in this case, lack.

What does it mean to philosophize? It means to bring up your own ideas, assessments, and theories. A philosopher is necessarily a creator, and not merely an observer of things that have already been created by others throughout history. The fact that an airplane pilot does not necessarily teach about airplanes does not mean he is not an airplane pilot. However, the difference between him/her and the philosopher is the fact that the former has a certificate, whereas the latter does not.

If you want to learn how to think like a philosopher, there is no need to get a certificate to do so. Read online material, watch some videos, and contemplate in solitude. None of these require a certificate, which is why just about anyone can describe themselves as a philosopher, whether or not they are actually pretentious. That is simply because the act of philosophizing requires nothing other than using your brain and contemplating on an existential level.

It's like writing -- a writer writes, and should he not write at all, he would not be a writer. Obviously, writing requires no certification other than knowing how to write and how to express yourself. The same is true in philosophy.

This is both a blessing and a curse. On the one hand, philosophizing is pretty easy once you practice contemplation on the existential level (and on a regular basis, of course), but on the other hand, some people will call you a hoax, a fake, or a pretender simply because you don't have anything else to prove your position other than your own mind and logical reasoning.

That is also a very common thing about philosophy: the fact that it is a field where it is very hard to find wide agreement on many subjects where philosophy is involved, and thus, sometimes one's own credibility might be put in doubt, because anything in philosophy can be doubted legitimately.

There are no rules other than two: be existential (AKA deep) and logical, as much as you possibly can be. Should someone disagree with your premise and with your arguments, they can easily just come up and claim that you are a pretender, and you have nothing physical to back it up, like the mentioned airplane pilot has.

Therefore, if you wish to practice philosophy publicly, you need to actually fight for your recognition as a philosopher, in order to not only be regarded as one, but also taken seriously as someone who practices their craft, like any other craftsman.

If publicity is your choice, then you need to create a following of people who will recognize you for who you claim to be, in order to help you better fight against those who don't recognize you de-facto, and also to provide support when it is needed. This is not about getting a group of "believers"; it's about getting an audience whose power will better enhance your legitimacy as a philosopher, in a world where there are no certifications necessary for philosophers.

It might be a tough battle for you because your critics can create a seed of doubt within you. This is why philosophizing is stressful, and this is why I personally am stressful sometimes when thinking about this issue -- because there could always be those who will disregard everything that you ever did in your occupation, call you a pretender, and try to make you feel bad for yourself as a result.

Do you see the frustration that comes from it if you have an open mind? That all the thinking, the writing, the observations, and the years, all gone to waste because of a new perspective that, in theory, could be true about you and your endeavors in life?

I am privileged to be recognized as a philosopher by most people with whom I interact about my role, and I'm thankful for that, and especially because of that, perhaps, I should be less worried about the deniers. I once saw someone in a comment section being called a Nazi for writing elaborately about Nazism, and the writer of the post quickly denied it. Perhaps life is a struggle after all -- a struggle for attaining as much recognition as possible -- the one that you firmly believe you deserve.

Thus, if you're a philosopher, and someone calls you pretentious, simply see if their claim has any grounding, and if it doesn't, then move on. You can't change their minds, but you can convince others legitimately through your hard, honest work.

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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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