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Philosophers and Relevancy -- How to Become More Relevant As a Philosopher

Updated: Feb 22

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Philosopher - A Job that Never Gets Old

The thing that is so amusing about philosophy is this: No matter from which era or century a philosopher has come, they could always be relevant. Even if we were to move 100 years into the future with a time machine, it's most likely that people will still talk about the philosophers of old, just as they do nowadays. Therefore, a good, living philosopher, is one who aspires not only to philosophize, but also to remain as relevant to the world, regardless of time.

In fact, those who seek to immortalize themselves as philosophers, such as myself, might get insulted if told that they are irrelevant. So I've been told by someone who I once held dear to my heart. Through my work I hope to prove to her otherwise. Prove to the world, that I've the traits of a good philosopher.

How can we know that we are relevant philosophers? If you have a site or blog like mine, abstain from having activities there on your behalf, as a test, for a set period of time. See whether or not people will come there nonetheless. If people seek to read your material, even on a day when you did not work on that material, then it needs to be told that you are indeed a relevant philosopher.

A Tale of Two Relevancies (and Why One Endures)

Being relevant is to be important enough to belong to a bigger context other than yourself or than what you just said or wrote. The greater your and your work's value belong to a bigger context, the more irreplaceable they are capable of becoming.

When something or someone is irreplaceable, their mentioning becomes, almost, an inevitable possibility. It becomes something that cannot be disregarded in any way, when that specific, bigger context, is introduced. By the same token, you can't have a discussion on meta-philosophy without having a broader understanding of what philosophy is, or without at least trying to understand what it is.

As such, you could say that there is an heirarchy of importance of components that build that "bigger context", which in this case is philosophy. As the "Father of Western Philosophy", Socrates' relevance is one of the biggest there is in the history of philosophy. By the fact that we can't rationally deny it, his value and the value of his teachings are therefore irreplaceable.

Higher degrees of relevance can only be attainable by being very important to the formation and continuation of discussions about certain subjects. The mere potential of said discussions to come in the first place, allow the relevance of certain components -- and people -- to exist.

Despite being a minor niche, philosophy remains a relevant niche, which can be testified by the fact that we philosophize to this very day, even after thousands of years.

The longevity of a niche does not always correlate with its popularity, especially in contemporary times where many trends are involved. Take NFTs for example. They used to be very popular, promising riches to its creators. However, a few years later, NFTs became a laughterstock with little seriousness remaining to it, as the vast majority of these online creations are now worthless.

How did Socrates' memory outlived the NFT? The answer is simple: Insights matter more than sensational promises of riches. Even if philosophy isn't exactly profitable in cash, it's profitable in its wisdom and ability to make us understand reality, more.

How to Increase the Endurance of Your Work

A philosopher that no one cares about, is a philosopher who is, so to speak, "good as dead". That isn't because their lives are worthless, but because philosophy is meant to be shared with the world.

The reason is that philosophy can contribute and enrich lives, thus proving its altruistic value. Not only theoratically but practically, too. It's why Socrates sacrificed his life in the name of the Athenian people, it's why Diogenes sacrificed his self-dignity, and it's why Nietzsche sacrificed his mental health. It's all in the name of not remaining forgotten in the abyss of the past.

And truth-seeking, either way, requires sacrifice.

And those who remain forgotten, can forever be lost in the dust of history. Thus, memory deserves to be a very sacred value to those who wish to be public. You may be surprised, but there are a lot of philosophers, throughout history, that remained forgotten.

How many of you did know that India had a president who was also a philosopher? How many of you knew that there was a school shooter in Finland who was a philosopher? How about a certain Jewish intellectual who was shunned for his opinions, and was not Baruch Spinoza? There are more forgotten philosophers than it meets the eye.

It's even possible that I had at least one ancestor, Abraham of Vilnius, who was a philosopher, a rabbi and a linguist. But you won't exactly be able to find any of his teachings today online as many other philosophers who've died, unlike those of the one named Joseph Agassi, who was a mentor of my own former mentor.

If you're a philosopher, here's my tip for you: Collect as many testimonials as you can, from people who want to give them to you voluntarily, with or without you having to offer your request. That way, you'll know that your material comes before you. For a philosopher without recognized work can easily be questioned as such than otherwise. You need to prove your worth through recognition, if you want your works to contribute further, beyond the halls of academia or beyond conducting private discussions.

Once you've gathered enough of them, feel no shame in sharing them with the world, as they serve as evidence to the fact that your job as a philosopher goes as well as any other job, Monetized or otherwise (volunteering work).

Doing so will be able to make the lives of others connect with your own work, as they slowly begin to understand your relevancy as a philosopher. And never underestimate the power of marketing, however attained, in a world where shallowness is a necessary evil.

Navigating the Attention Economy as a Philosopher

As long as you're alive, you're in a race against time. Should you not reach a state where your name is relevant, then there will be two results: Either you'll be relevant only after your death, similar to artists such as Van Gogh, or you will not be relevant at all, and will remain forgotten.

A philosopher's greatest enemy, is the possibility of being forgotten by people and by time, which then would greatly deter his or her potential to contribute to humanity. I have such fear, myself. Being forgotten is another testimony to the declining relevance to philosophy. Hence why philosophers are extensions of the craft, and not just themselves, necessarily.

And, you're not alone in this. There are other competitors for attention of readers, and as with readers themselves, it is limited. As with any other field which is served for the public, you don't have to be number 1 to succeed, but you should aspire to reach as high as possible, as long as you're graced with life and with the ability to philosophize. That can apply to any industry as well in a capitalist economy.

You might be surprised how beneficial it is to strive to be excessive.

The thing is, even if you're a very competent philosopher, there is no justification for you to reach "immortality". By "immortality" I refer to recognition that is independent of your lifespan. This is an unfair world, where shallow videos of less than a minute will get far more attention than articles such as this; a world where your chronic mental anguish can easily be overlooked, thus making you feel lonely, under the "authority" of normalcy.

To quote the great Charlie Chaplin:

This is a ruthless world and one must be ruthless to cope with it.

Viewer-base isn't based on socialist/communist methodology, like the one presented in the Lion King. There is no equal share of attention for those who truly deserve it. Hence, it's your job to create this justification for yourself, and rally the readers into reading your material and appreciating your philosophical material. Don't expect people to just come and read you in a world where there is a severe lack of justice served.

With so much competition on attention, simply writing or speaking isn't enough if you wish to reach the immortalization of those before you. You need to work hard earning it. And those who refuse to work hard, might easily fall to get-rich-quick schemes. Attention is to be worked hard for, and worked for, relentlessly.

Apprentices, Not Cult Worshippers

A few final words about relevance in philosophy: The "path of sin" is to turn your words into a cult, something that Pythagoras and Osho did during their lifetimes. However, by making your philosophy a cult, you will severely increase your chances of having your reputation stained by others, even by the media. Therefore, you shouldn't become a cult leader. You should become a philosopher with a community of viewers of equal status as yourself.

The path between philosophership and cultist condescension is, unfortunately, quite thin. Avoiding cultist organization would mean that your philosophy might be more respected than otherwise. That's because many people may think in an ad-hominem matter, and would easily correlate your writings with who you were. As unfortunate as their fallacious thinking is, you have a reputation to preserve as a public figure for that reasoning.

Ruin your reputation as a person, and your work's reputation can be ruined as well, by people who don't properly understand that philosophy is an exchange of ideas. It isn't an exchange of the people who create and discuss said ideas, but many people, being the irrational social animals that many are, won't necessarily care.

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The one thing that all agree is immortal and unchangeable is the past, so all we must do to become immortal is to enter the past. The book of time contains us now and forever.

Yes, time (or space-time) is relative regarding the cosmos; but eternity is another dimension from our space-time. Augustine saw two faces of time: our time here and now, and God's time Beyond, which sees all our times "at once."

"Relevance" truly is relative, or as John Austin would say, "substantive-hungry," because we must always consider, "Relevant to what?" What could be more relevant to all things in our space-time than The Eternal? The Now is absorbed in the Eternal, as red things are Red.


Replying to

Thanks for providing insight, Mr. Osborne, and welcome aboard!


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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