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

Updated: Apr 5

Two soldiers with guns confronting one another

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

Ms. Tamara Moskal's Summary:

The foundation of philosophy is analyzing flaws in everything and everybody, including the philosopher. Such criticism should be constructive, offering solutions to problems and leading to a better world.
Even in democratic societies, people attempt to regulate free speech, normalizing cancel culture and discouraging unpopular ideas. Ignoring criticism hinders both personal and societal growth. Freedom of expression is the fundamental democratic right and condition for philosophy.
The philosopher pursues truth by being open to unconventional thoughts and critical of accepted beliefs. Although their findings may be controversial, they embrace criticism from others as valuable opportunities for progress. The author emphasizes the importance of overcoming sensitivities, engaging in constructive dialogue, and exploring diverse viewpoints. He encourages readers to be critical, to interact with him online, and to comment on his articles.

The Relentless Critic: A Philosopher's Duty

In his or her quest to be good at their job, the philosopher should be capable of criticizing anyone or anything they find flawed and worthy of scrutiny, including themselves. This critical analysis is the very foundation of philosophical inquiry. By examining the flaws in ideas, systems, and behaviors, philosophers can work to improve them and achieve a deeper understanding of the world.

However, the philosopher's role isn't simply to wield criticism like a weapon. The goal is not to tear things down, but to build a more solid foundation. Effective criticism should be constructive, offering alternatives and proposing solutions alongside the identification of problems. Doing so can assist the other side not give in to their confirmation bias, and be inclined to deem your criticism an "attack" on them.

Furthermore, recognizing that everyone, including the philosopher themselves, is susceptible to flaws adds another layer to the process. This self-awareness shouldn't be a discouragement to criticism, but rather a an opportunity for even more rigorous examination of ideas. After all, if even the philosopher's own thinking isn't immune to error, how much more important is it to subject all ideas to critical scrutiny? Very, very much.

In this way, the philosopher's pursuit of criticism becomes a path towards greater knowledge, understanding, and ultimately, a better world. Such quest is what philosophy is for, and not for the glorification of oneself's intellect. No, the intellect is merely the tool, not philosophy's purpose. And tools are to be treated as such -- with care and without vanity.

For optimal results, provided by your intellect, the ability to criticize, and even lambast, is to become a habit. A second nature. To be executed as easy as a walk in the park, and simple as the toss of the coin.

Why a Democracy Needs Dissent

In a world dominated by democracies, it's surprising how many struggle with the concept of "agreeing to disagree." After all, a fundamental tenet of a democratic society is the coexistence of diverse viewpoints within a shared space. As such, the normalization of cancel culture is one that is capable of posing a threat on our freedom to express ourselves. It tries to present a vision of reality where some ideas are unworthy of discussion, and even condemnable, while deeming many other ideas and topics as the exact opposite.

The problem with the attempt to regulate idea exchange through social conventions is that has the power to encourage reduction of philosophical exploration where it is legitimate by our right to express our thoughts.

Reduction of expression thus entails reduction of the ability of criticizing things and beings. The less people will be encouraged to criticize, the more likely herd mentalities are to develop in communities worldwide. The bad thing about herd mentality is that it can collectively enable the promotion and application of ideas and plans that deserve to be criticized. After all, criticism has its constructive potential. Disregard criticism as objectively bad and you will prevent your own progress and potentially that of society.

This freedom extends even to ideas demonstrably false. People have the right to reject the truth, even if they're demonstrably wrong. It's their choice, however misguided it may be. This is why people are allowed to be dumb and do dumb things, and suffer the consequences.

The Philosopher's Quest: Seeking Truth, Not Adulation

Similarly, a philosopher's role isn't to intimidate others into agreement, nor use coercion. Their primary objective is the relentless pursuit of truth, regardless of whether they ultimately find it. They aren't inherently "above" others, nor do they possess some inherent superior knowledge.

No. the path to philosophership is defined by mental training to become capable thinkers and critics. Even if it comes naturally to them, like magic to sorcerers, self-work is imperative to become capable philosophers. The philosopher's prime, if not sole ambition is to lessen their own ignorance, and that training is a means for just that.

There are two key approaches philosophers take in their quest for truth that differ from the "average" person:

  1. Openness to Unconventional Ideas: Philosophers actively consider "abnormal" or "eccentric" viewpoints. These perspectives, however seemingly outrageous, may contain valuable nuggets of truth. They won't be hasty to disregard abnormal and eccentric people either, into their lives, for they are often those who can supply them with much insight.

  2. Challenging the Status Quo: They critically analyze commonly held beliefs, even those perceived as facts. All perceived facts can and deserve to be criticized in the name of understanding the truth, as existent beyond our perception.

This willingness to explore all avenues, regardless of their perceived soundness, is vitalfor a competent philosopher. Their greatest enemy is censorship, and anything else that attempts to hinder them from their path.

As such, they may often isolate themselves from society to reduce unnecessary opposition. This tendency contributed to the sage archetype.

The Importance of Reciprocal Criticism

A true philosopher isn't afraid of criticism or being "lambasted" themselves. Those who dish it out but can't take it are hypocrites. This is why open dialogue through guest posts and exploring opposing philosophies is crucial.

While initial resistance exists, the importance of diverse voices becomes increasingly evident as one progresses in this field. Tolerance and understanding for differing viewpoints, with few exceptions like Nazism, are essential.

Just as criticism is inevitable when presenting oneself online, so too is the risk of being "lambasted" for challenging established ideas. This potential backlash shouldn't deter philosophers. It's part of the philosophership, especially for those in the public eye.

The Controversial Philosopher: A Necessary Role

A philosopher may be unpopular at times, delivering messages the public doesn't want to hear. This doesn't diminish the value of their work. Mistakes are inevitable in this pursuit. Even the "great" philosophers had those who were trying to stand in their way.

This includes examining conspiracy theories, radical viewpoints, and seemingly nonsensical perspectives. While ridicule and criticism may follow, these explorations are core functions of the philosopher's role.

Being an honest philosopher in a democracy can be risky, even if the threats are primarily social. Consider the absence of known philosophers in North Korea. We need to understand that freedom is what allows philosophy in any society. As long as we still have it, it deserves to be used in the name of the truth. Societal norms be damned, as they do not always correlate with the right to use our freedom for our own pursuits.

The ability to "agree to disagree" is the building block of a healthy democracy. Without this fundamental right, democracy is reduced to mere elections.

Let's embrace the power of dissent and open discourse to create a more democratic, pluralistic, and tolerant society, without deeming dissent an "attack" on us. Let criticism, even between loved ones and followers, be a force for progress in our collective search for truth. Not for petty arguements, but as blessed opportunities for idea exchanges and other worthwhile collaborations.

After all, the freer the exchange of ideas, the closer we get to understanding the world around us.

Conclusion: For a Journey Towards Shared Understanding

My own journey has mirrored the importance of open discourse I've outlined. As I've become more interactive with others, I've recognized the limitations of solitude in the pursuit of truth. Less engagement can lead to a greater echo chamber of one's own thoughts, hindering the ability to see things from new perspectives.

This realization underscores the vital role of dialogue in society. Just as a democracy thrives on the exchange of ideas, so too does the individual philosopher. Therefore, I encourage you to actively engage in respectful discourse, challenge assumptions, and explore diverse viewpoints. Not only in Philosocom but in general as well. After all, two minds are better than one.

And through unity we can become wiser. That could only be done if we are peaceful enough to not deem lambasting a threat. Our ability to reduce our sensitivity is our responsibility. Enabling oversensitivity's preservation by enabling it in norms does not solve the problem. The problem that stems from our individual needs to be tougher and psychologically safer.

And if we don't want to limit others' criticism of us, we must grow tougher. The stronger your inner core is, the less you'll feel obliged to limit others due to your own insecurity.

And if you have something to contribute, don't hesitate to reach out! You can comment or use the chat function. I used to be more wary of criticism until I realized I need it as much as I give it. All in the name of a better understanding of reality, which may require me to cast my personal sentiments aside, and respect others like I want them to respect me.

The world is in a grave need to teach itself the value of respect, and understand that through its display, criticism would be far easier to convey. It requires much education and practice, as well as learning from past mistakes. In the end, criticism doesn't have to be perceived as that bad, right?

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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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