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The Philosopher's Two Archetypes -- The Politician and the Madman

Updated: 1 hour ago

A man in a happy mood.

When beginning to publish your work as a philosopher, you should best choose a definitive answer to the basic question of "How much do I care what others think of me?" Your overall experience with the external world will change in accordance with your answer. Some philosophers will hold their reputation dearly to their hearts, for they want to be taken seriously, while others would choose the path of greater freedom, by lifting off their chest the concern for public opinion, which they, technically, have no control over.

Through this basic question, one can identify two types of philosophers: those who act like "politicians" and those who may appear to others as "madmen," even if said philosophers are not mentally ill or anything close to it. Regardless of your choice of perspective, you should take note that your work will not always be met with the respect you might think you deserve for your hard work. I'm not only talking exclusively about internet trolls, but also about people who would actually hate you for speaking up your mind and presenting your arguments to the world.

Thus, in order to develop ways to cope with reception, one must ask themselves, how much do they care for the opinion of others about them and about their work. Once decided, life as a philosopher shall be easier as you can have a better premise regarding this subject. Take note that this is a dilemma that has no definitive solution, making it subjective. Would you follow the way of Diogenes and Schopenhauer, and scold your dog by calling it a human, thus behaving as a "madman," or try to actually appeal to your audience, as much as possible, like Gandhi and the prophets of old?

With each "archetype" comes a benefit as well as a price alongside it. Should you choose to be a "politician," you may earn more respect from your followers, as you will dedicate much of your time into putting your words in a wiser way. The price for that would be your pure authenticity, as you'd often have to censor your words, or at least compromise your choice of them just to be treated seriously.

Philosophy in general has a lot to do with politics, as I've learned myself over the years. Whether you philosophize through writing or public speaking, every philosopher is necessarily an orator, as words are essential for philosophy to occur, meaning that each of your content is basically a public announcement to the world.

Obviously, it's not just a daily photo or "story" that you upload on social media — each of your pieces has the potential to enter the halls of history; that's how important any philosopher can become, and why the worldliness associated with this niche can be quite demanding. You can't expect your words to just fly away, for your voice is "made" to be heard, is it not?

This is why your audience can respect you as much as hate you, thus putting the importance of public appeal and the reduction of appearing anti-social, senile, or whatever tag others may put on you. And again, there is a great need to state it — do not expect the entirety of your audience to like your stuff. It's like getting a 99.9% voting in a national election — only in North Korea, ladies and gentlemen.

Those who are more "madmen" in mind may appropriately raise an important question to the previous archetype — why should one strive for optimal appeal, when anyone could think negatively of you, no matter what you shall do? What is the point of this attempt if it does not change the inevitability of hatred and other ill wills?

The followers of this archetype are truly aware that, in the end, nothing of this actually matters, so why be, in their line of thinking, so obsessive and entitled about one's reputation? Even Epictatus himself stated that reputation is beyond our control, even though it belongs to us. As far as I can remember a quote from him — "Life is like a theater with you having a role given by someone else."

Of course, you can influence what others might think of you, but beyond that you have done, theoretically, your job. Still, there is much freedom in a life that is not dictated by the thoughts of others. The desire to be "good," to be "respectful," are all technically but things that we cannot decide for ourselves, making us dependent on others to confirm, to encourage... to love.

Only those who wish to become independent of public opinion should actually consider following this archetype to its fullest. In other words — the less you regard the emotions of others in your writing, the more of a "madman" you can be considered as such. Now you can also understand, that this is not a dichotomy; that you can be a "politician" to those whom you respect, and a "goodball-ish-madman" to your friends.

All and all, not only you should ask yourself the question in the beginning of this article, but also this — which people are whom I actually want to think positively of either me or my work? Slavoj Zizek is an example where he is both seen as a walking meme and both a serious philosopher. People may ridicule him for his odd behavior, but ultimately, many have respect towards him and his work, to the point of even debating with another philosopher by the name of Jordan Peterson, who is also a famous, contemporary thinker.

Finally, you might find it funny upon hearing it, but this is a very tricky niche in a sense that it's a very esoteric field of study, and not all philosophers were actually in university. Should you enter a community or a discussion board of philosophers, you might be surprised to see just how odd people act there.

It's not necessarily a bad thing, but merely an example of showing that by being a philosopher, you are already kind of weird. It's like being a master at a forgotten video game only few cares about — only at this time it's about fields of study which are no longer a part of philosophy, such as the sciences and religion. In actuality I won't be surprised to find that the status of philosophy would be significantly reduced to that of mysticism or the occult.

Whenever facing this dilemma, in the end a premise should be made by the wiser authority, for this will change not only affect yourself but others as well.

So who are you, as an author—an appealing politician or a careless strongman? Would you sacrifice your free time arguing with random people online, when you could be playing other games? Over the years, I have juggled between these two archetypes. Now that I have more views than ever before, I have abandoned the inner "madman" in favor of the diplomatic, more mature "politician." I had two reasons for doing this: to preserve my good reputation and to avoid persecution or harassment by other people online for things I might regret saying.

Acting like a "politician" is stressful, as your every move is important, and any word can break your own argument. It is stressful, to be sure, but at least I am not as hidden as I used to be. Ultimately, even if the truth is independent of public opinion, a basic function of writing arguments and contemplations is to share them with the world. Unfortunately, the world requires you to kneel before the might of public opinion, or else you will be abandoned by your own audience.

Being once more the "politician" archetype, I apologize for any typos made here, as I am extremely tired after a sleepless night. I hope, however, that my arguments are good and understood, regardless of my current sleepiness. If there are things that you did not understand, feel free to let me know and I'll attempt to elaborate for you.

Before we finish up, one should take note that being a "madman" type of philosopher doesn't always make you a repulsive stranger. For some, it is even appealing. However, it is a great gamble, especially when one is sensitive. Here is an eccentric song with an eccentric clip, made by the American singer, Tom Waits, in order to show why there is no necessary correlation between the two things I just mentioned (being weird and being rejected/repulsed).

Thanks for taking the time to read!

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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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