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On the Path to Philosophership: "Lambasting" (Criticizing Harshly)

Updated: Jul 28

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

In his or her quest to be good at their job, the philosopher must criticize anyone or anything, he or she finds as flawed and as worthy to be criticized.

The thing is, it's arguable that anything and anyone is flawed, including the philosopher themselves, which only gives them an even bigger reason to criticize anything or anyone they find as worthy to be included in their work.

In a world where most of its countries are democracies, I find it amusing that many people find it hard to agree-to-disagree with others. It's quite amusing because one of the points of a democracy is for several opinions to exist in a shared space.

Even if an idea is to be proven to be the truth, it should be obvious that people are to disagree with it as the truth, even if they themselves are wrong and are unaware of it. It's their own choice to disagree with the truth, after all.

And likewise, the philosopher's purpose isn't necessarily to make people convinced that they're right. The philosopher merely seeks the truth as their occupation, and whether or not they will find the truth, is another topic entirely.

The point is, that the philosopher isn't necessarily "above" others at all, nor that he or she is more knowledgeable than others. It's just that they seek to reduce their own ignorance, is all. And one of the ways a philosopher does so, is by doing two things, the "average" person will not necessarily do:

1. Be open to "abnormal" or "eccentric" points of view.

2. Criticize the points of view which are seen as the norm, if not as the facts.

And as such, even if a point of view might be seen as outrageous, as unreal, as delusional and so on, the philosopher "must" consider them as well, all because they could contain truth in them, even if, at least, a portion of truth. The notion of a "trigger warning" should not matter as much to a competent philosopher, because their "greatest enemy" is censorship.

For those coming from Quora, where I disabled comments, know that you can still interact with me, nonetheless, as some of you have already done.

Likewise, the philosopher should not fear being criticized, or "lambasted", themselves. Those who have no problem criticizing others, but want to avoid being criticized themselves, are technically hypocrites, as it is said in Hebrew: "Whatever has been done on you, do not do to others". A certain self-described sociopath I once talked with, have probably never heard that expression before.

This is one of the reasons as to why I allow guest posts in my blog, or posts written by others. I enjoy exploring other philosophies, some of which I've written about myself, because I think that opinions which are different than mine, also deserve to be sound.

I admit that I used to think otherwise before, but as I got better in this occupation, I now know how important it is for other voices to be heard, explored and tolerated.

There may be exceptions to that rule, due to their grave consequences, such as Nazism, which is responsible to a world war and to genocide, but other than such exceptions, I strive to understand different points of view, without condescending above them, just because I happen to think otherwise.

I bet that many people do not like to be criticized harshly, or "lambasted", but that may be proven difficult in practice, when these people present themselves online, where people can be exposed to them, even if said people are complete strangers.

It should come to no surprise, when someone may find themselves being disapproved by their audience; After all, the thoughts of their audience are beyond their control!

The philosopher has another "risk" as well, if they perform their occupation to the public eye: They themselves may be lambasted for criticizing ideas that may be seen as either the norm or as the truth. Ever heard of the "Church of the Intellect"?

I didn't, not before hearing it from others. Whether or not such "church" exists in educational and academic institutes, might be seen as outrageous by some of you, and legitimately so.

However! A good philosopher will take ANYTHING into consideration, as long as they believe that anything could hold some truth to it! After all, why would a philosopher avoid seeking the truth, while the entire idea of their role, is to seek the truth? Why would a philosopher turn a blind eye to the truth, if they are serious in their indefinite quest to study reality, in order to better understand it?

Therefore, I think that it would be reasonable for a philosopher to be controversial sometimes, and not always supply content the public wants to hear. Of course, the philosopher might be wrong in their findings and conclusions but being mistaken is part of the job. How can a known philosopher, even if seen as a "great" one, not have critics?

Yes! That includes conspiracy theories, that includes radical points of view, and even perspectives that the majority might find as nonsensical (Remember that fallacy about the majority?). Even if the philosopher will get lambasted and ridiculed for exploring them, it's still a core function in their role.

So yes, being an honest philosopher can put them in a great risk, even in a democratic society. Even if that risk may be social exclusively, it can be a risk nonetheless, especially when they are public philosophers.

Ever wondered why aren't there any philosophers in North Korea that we know of (The dictatorship, not from its territory)? They are probably either imprisoned or dead, along with their families, as many of the punishments there are collective. Enjoy yourselves if you live in a democracy, and do not fear the intellectual freedom it is supposed to allow you!

After all, if we cannot agree to disagree, then what is even the point of democracy, other than legitimate elections? So much hate we may have towards each other, only because we do not think alike. Shouldn't it be ironic nowadays?

We should not fear criticism when we voice our thoughts! We should be more open to each other, so our societies will be more democratic! More pluralistic! More tolerant! We should not fear criticizing others as well! Even if we love them! Even if we are their followers! The more open we will be, the likelier we will be able to find the truth.

And finally, there is a reason as to why I became more interactive with others, in these recent weeks. I have realized that, if I will talk less and less with others, I might be farther from the truth. That is, indeed, the disadvantage of greater solitude -- the possibility of being more ignorant than otherwise. Thus, I lost some of my interest in being a solitary man.

So, if you have anything to say, that you think can help in the production of new articles, do let me know. You can find my e-mail address in the bottom of the site, as of now. Just be respectful, and I'll do my best to tolerate you.

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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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