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Solomon Maimon and the Villainy of Philosophy

Updated: Feb 8

(Note: This AI Art is not an accurate portrait of the philosopher in question. This is how the late Solomon Maimon looked)


Let's be honest: few people like party poopers. And it's arguable that philosophers, with their motives of inquiry and doubt in their quest for truth, are, were, and probably will always be the most dominant party poopers in existence. They ruin the immersion of individuals and communities alike by logically proving their beliefs to be questionable. This often leads philosophers to become outcasts and even be persecuted, simply for trying to form a different opinion or to bring a more controversial suggestion to a discussion.

One of these unwanted philosophers was the Jewish writer Solomon Maimon, an 18th-century intellectual who suffered greatly from the outside world for his eccentric opinions. Born in Poland (now Belarus), he had a keen interest in studying philosophy and Kabbalah.

However, due to the ideas he formed based on his studies, such as the notion that Kabbalah was a product of philosophy, he was essentially condemned by the locals as a heretic for the rest of his life. He was even buried outside of his hometown's cemetery upon his death at the age of 48, which at the time was a sign of either shame or condemnation.

Condemned by his own religious community, Maimon attempted to convert to Christianity. However, the pastor he attended eventually refused to convert him, claiming that he was too much of a philosopher to be a good Christian. It is also worth mentioning that he was expelled from both Berlin and Amsterdam, the latter while escaping from an angry mob.

Even though we are arguably in a world where the values of democracy and freedom of expression are at their finest, it is still uneasy for people to fully express their opinions in public, whether physical or virtual. You can still make a less-than-popular opinion and find yourself being condemned and shamed by countless others across the globe, as if we were still in medieval times, being put to shame in the town square.

I believe that we would be more accepting of each other if we had the mental strength to resist the temptation to bring somebody or their content down just because we are triggered by their beliefs. However, since we are arguably more emotional than logical beings, the path to an even wider acceptance of the more eccentric and controversial is still longer than some of us might be ready to admit.

Due to the tyranny of norms, as long as we are too afraid to oppose them and their negative influence on democracy and freedom of speech, people like philosophers may still, to some extent, be regarded as villains by the mainstream narrative of the norms.

If you are not convinced that this phenomenon is still happening today, let me remind you that this site has been banned by Facebook because they found it to contain "hate speech," even though this is far from the case. Whatever the reason, perhaps mainstream websites such as Facebook might dislike philosophy websites, theoretically at least.

Maimon's story is a cautionary tale for all philosophers. It reminds us that the pursuit of truth can be a lonely and dangerous path. But it also shows us that the truth is worth fighting for, even if it means being ostracized by society.

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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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