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The Decline of Pre-Digital Elitism (And How Armchair Intellects Rose From Its Ashes)

Updated: Apr 30

a warband of lizardmen in a burning courtyard.

The Rise of the Non-Academic Intellectual

With the increasing dominance of technology, the gatekeepers of information have been replaced by an open door. Books, newspapers, and journals once served as the primary avenues for sharing ideas. However, now, literally anyone can voice their thoughts and spread sthem worldwide. This creates a potential for a fascinating shift: the rise of the non-academic intellectual, and his or her internet-izied insights.

Anyone with dedication and skill can become a thought leader. Through practice in logic and communication, individuals can build intellectual credibility outside the ivory tower. According to Forbes, it takes the following traits:

In many fields, and especially in the arts and humanities, these virtues can be gained outside of the academia. This challenges the traditional view of academia as an exclusive source of knowledge and bringer of virtues such as those. In a world where information is readily available online, the elitism associated with academic credentials begins to diminish. And rightfully so, given how much student debt comes along with these prestigious studies.

In the US alone in 2023, student debt was gathered to several trillion USD. That is the price an entire developed nation pays by succumbing to two terms which I covered here on Philosocom:

Access to gatekeeped information doesn't equate to expertise. While the financial burden of traditional higher education may be avoided, self-driven learning requires significant discipline and critical thinking skills. Not all online resources are created equal, and navigating the information landscape demands discernment as much as it demands drawing accurate conclusions from the information that is likelier to be true and not a misinformation with an ulterior motive/s.

On the other hand, the value of degrees should not be underestimated when the degrees offer relevence. While alternative paths to knowledge are emerging, academic credentials still hold merit when they have a practical application to specific contexts (like when speaking of health and medicine).

Degrees demonstrate commitment, professionalism, and specialized skills valued by many employers (hence the reason many pursue them). However, as open-mindedness and tolerance for diverse perspectives grow, the importance of degrees as the sole marker of credibility may decrease.

Ultimately, the digital revolution has democratized knowledge, challenging orthodox hierarchies and creating opportunities for self-made intellectuals and underground thinkers. While there are trade-offs to being an auto-didact (like studying what you want to study, and not necessarily what is useful for your efforts), this shift has the potential to foster a more inclusive and diverse intellectual landscape.

Rethinking the Value of "Armchair Philosophers"

A textbook example of such an intellectual is Socrates, who acquired his wisdom by engaging in philosophical dialogue with the Athenian people, undermining reading and writing (Plato served as his recorder of thoughts).

In today's world, Socrates might be told to get a job or a degree. He could also be told to stop "wasting his potential" by engaging in open discussions rather than writing and marketing philosophy books of his own making. Ironically, he remains one of the the most well-known philosophers of all time.

This raises two important questions:

  1. Will we ever see a future where academic studies are no longer socio-economically exclusive, even though many jobs require them despite uncertain application due to high demand and competition (excluding fields like medicine and law where degrees are truly necessary, rather than beneficial, but not objectively necessary to do the job)?

  2. Should we, as individuals and professionals, move beyond judging people solely based on their educational background and degrees? Could we save people time, money, and unnecessary pressure by focusing on individual potential and fulfillment rather than conforming to external expectations?


Academic studies are undeniably demanding, stressful, and expensive. People should not be ashamed to prioritize their well-being and choose paths that better suit their individual needs and aspirations -- and still become educated in their own ways. Not everyone is cut out for academia, and not everyone has the courage to leave after investing time, effort and funds.

As such I consider myself educated despite not having any degrees. I'm just a man who dedicates much of his time learning about the world and in general, so I could serve you the high-quality articles you came for by coming and/or subscribing to Philosocom. My time spent in industrious isolation is to help teaching people about philosophy and about life in general.

And as an aspiring mentor with apprentices I don't need to belong to an elite organization to do just that. If I thought otherwise I would've committed something called "The Same Result Problem", leading to unnecessary redundancy.

This is why "armchair intellectuals" like myself, who actually do their research, deserve to challenge negative stereotypes. It's as similar as to other marginalized groups facing societal pressures for being who they are.

We should all strive to move beyond the limitations of imposed norms and acknowledge that individual struggles deserve understanding and respect. And struggles, especially, that succeed in delivering you exactly what you asked for.

81 views3 comments


When researching an issue, do you think social media groups like Google or even Fact Check can be bias in their reporting?

Replying to

Thanks for asking. I think that the ultimate test to determine whether a reporting entity is biased or not, is to see if they'll report a counter-evidence to something they believe to be correct. If, instead, they will not report said counter-evidence, or even try to hide it from the public, then we can conclude that that body is biased. The same is true in philosophy -- a good philosopher will be ready to admit that they were wrong, should they run out of counter-arguments.


Roland Leblanc
Roland Leblanc
Aug 04, 2020

Thank you for this valuable article; I think that knowing our own self soon enough can help find the way to be useful in this world where the rectifiaction of the world is really needed `...

We all have our own made to do or life purpose to discover somehow, and the sooner the better; doing so will help us being guided by our own inner self wisdom eventualy...

Interesting way of seing that each has his own way of being helpful for real`...

Ayin Tov`



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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