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On the Path to Philosophership -- Buddies and Temptations

Updated: Jun 19

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

If you, as a philosopher, decide to publicly publish your content, and not within private circles, you have a chance to get readers, who are more distinguished than "regular" readers. In the language of digital marketing, these distinguished folk are called "buddies", and what makes them special is the fact that they wish to communicate with you, beyond the content you provide to your general audience.

Pythagoras had many "buddies", to the point that he founded a cult based on mathematics. His example represents the dark side of having "buddies", and it all depends on you, the philosopher, to decide what to do with your "buddies". It is a dark example because cults, by definition, could lead to dark temptations that could result in things such as manipulation, brainwashing, and even actual crimes that will not be mentioned here.

That is one of the few dangers that await you if you wish to become a philosopher -- the tempting possibility of converting your "buddies" into a self-recognizing group, called a cult. Pythagoras, although he contributed significantly to mathematics, might as well have been a power-hungry cultist, which defies the very purpose of philosophy, which has nothing to do with personal power.

What is a cult? It is basically a miniature version of religion, controlled by a single "dictator" so-to-speak, which is the cult leader. Major religions, such as Christianity, began as cults, until they gathered enough followers to become established enough to be powerful on the political and cultural scales. It could be possible to believe that religion, in general, is just a very broad cult, but I digress.

"Buddies" are, in short, people who see you as someone they wish to communicate with you in private, thanks to what you have to offer to the world. Thanks to the wonders of modern communication, every reader nowadays can become a "buddy" of yours, as long as they have the means to communicate with you privately. The more "buddies" you have, the more you can indicate that your work is supported, which is excellent by itself.

Once a private communication is established and developed, these readers will only become even more willing to read your content, either nowadays or whenever they have the energies to do so. The more "buddies" you have as a public figure, the more it is good for you. As said in similar articles, they are in no way your servants or henchmen; they are just friendly people who enjoy your content, and thus should be treated as such -- with gratitude and with appreciation.

Socrates, after being imprisoned by the Athenian government, was eventually approached by his buddies in order to rescue him. Should Socrates desired to oppose his suicidal philosophy (he preferred to die as long as the law demands it), he could've escaped prison and lived a free man. That is merely an example of how having these kind-hearted followers can help you in life. They won't necessarily bail you out of jail but connecting with them could inspire new ideas or even lead to collaborations.

The world is filled with what I'd like to call "pseudo-cults"; groups of people who admire a certain person and show so by following them on social media. They are pseudo because all you need to do is to be a fan of the person.

Actual cults, on the other hand, are built on three main things -- manipulation, isolation from the external world, and adoring the head figure. Should you manipulate people into adoring you, and have them only read your own content, then you've damaged your credibility as a philosopher, just like Pythagoras did.

For the honest philosopher, the attainment of power over others isn't the main goal, if at all. The main directive is to discover the potential truths of existence. Other goals could be possible, but not the creation of dogma and using it to make people adore you (and even receive their money or even property).

Ultimately, what cults usually exist for is to deceive people into paying you money for fake stuff. They might even create philosophies just for that very goal. That goal contradicts the path of the moral truth-seeker, whose material gain is but a secondary aim compared to the discovery of insights. Should you ever manipulate your "buddies", you will lose your credibility as a philosopher, whenever the truth about you gets out to the public.

Therefore, you see, there is a monastic element to being a philosopher. Corrupt philosophers, who downgrade their oath to finding the truth, are technically no longer actual philosophers, and it all begins with whether or not you're going to manipulate or deceive your newly acquired buddies. Once the main goal becomes secondary, the motivation for philosopherhood becomes corrupt.

The message of this article is this: don't make a cult out of your work, not only because it will make you a manipulator, but also because it could end up becoming a disaster. Scientology, the People's Temple -- all are examples of philosophies that were integrated into cults, which ended horribly. No honest philosopher would wish to destroy their image and legacy, just due to the temptation for power.

So, if you happen to force people to call you "master", or give away their property, perhaps philosophy is not for you, because philosophy isn't about the ego of the philosopher, but about their contribution towards the truths in their respective fields.

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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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