The Philosopher and Their Politics
Updated: Nov 30
To make things clear for the sake of this piece, the term "Politics" is far more wide-ranging than normally perceived. As long as one lives within one or more collectives, then some influence of "politics" is to be accounted for. According to this source I managed to find, it is simply "The total complex of relations between people living in a society".
If we put the meme "We live in a society" aside, the public philosopher should consider that there are some implications of being within a collective bigger than themselves. These implications go beyond their own practice of philosophizing. They should consider more roles to play, and thus, more functions to fulfill, in order to optimize their elementary role of philosophizing publicly.
The collective is a source of great power for any public figure, even if it has nothing to do with a government. Views, supporters, critics, and so on, can all be utilized for one to not only be heard, but also expand their sphere of influence over said collective, even if no actual authority over others is in store for them.
Therefore, like with any public figure, the public philosopher is a "politician" of sorts. They are a competitor within a shared space, where other competitors also operate. Being regarded in one way or another can significantly determine how one and their contemplations are perceived. In other words, like the governmental politician represents their party, the philosopher represents their whole public material.
It is only retrospectively, when I look back today, that I realize that I represent, in my public behavior, not just myself, but other things as well. My website, my articles, my books, and so on (maybe my future successors as well, including those who are yet to be born). As like the butterfly effect, one small thing could lead to another, and could actualize unwanted potentials.
Humanity's biggest collective thus far, ladies and gentlemen, is the globally connected internet. It should be obvious by now, how much information we all share publicly, and how much it can be exposed, as a public matter, even if it is intimate. Maybe many of us, including myself, are not that important, yes? But the public information we share, can last for generations, and thus, grow more and more as a potential, whether we like it or not; whether we're alive or have passed away.
Even when you delete something you regret, it doesn't mean someone else didn't save it and can't re-upload it online. The public domain is a dangerous place, especially because it is the biggest collective created by humankind. It is unbounded by most of the world's population, and as such, even a local language can be translated into a global one and be exposed to countless more.
The thing about "politics", governmental or in general, is that every act, every move of a public figure, can be stored within public memory, and thus, overshadow their overall contribution to the collective. As a result, such "moves" are very dangerous ones, to one's future, to one's functioning, and in the philosopher's case, to one's work in the eyes of the world.
Retrospectively, I believe I made tons of mistakes as a "politician", but it is too late, I believe, to remedy. The price, and/or the benefit, of greater relevancy, you see, is that one cannot fully control themselves. It is almost entirely within the grasp of the collective who perceives one, and the factions who build said collective.
Today's technology has made much of humanity so short on attention span. I'm glad I don't need to use TikTok and the like just to market myself in this niche. However, despite my preferences, one should consider the possibility of such technology enhancing the effect of overshadowing, even more, an otherwise worthy media.
After all, why read an entire article like this, when it can be shortened with little precision -- and be marketed as an honest summary? In other words, why would a future reader try to understand the clearer picture, when a biased summary can be given to them, under the convincing guise of truth by those who summarize?
I am not a prophet, and I am incapable of predicting the future. What I can claim is my assumption that the idea of "politics", in the more general term, become even harder to supervise in the future. As long as there is laziness, impatience and so on, a single sentence can ruin the appeal of a lifelong, philosophical legacy, in the eyes of those who have no reading time to spare.
So, as long as one wishes to become a public philosopher, they, like a Japanese Yakuza, should consider defending their honor, as by doing so, they defend ideals, bigger than themselves. And when put to shame for legitimate reasons, they may consider "cutting" their "little finger", by atoning, not for themselves, but for the future reputation, of their work, which they represent.
Remember that Socrates chose to die than living the rest of his life as a hypocrite, and while I might've contradicted myself before, I see no reason to resort to such demise, when redemption is a feature, in the form of one's better understanding of fallacy.