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The Tragedy of Philosophy -- Impressions and Truth -- How Our Perception is Hindered

Updated: Oct 11, 2023



Introduction


My favorite philosopher is Socrates, for he invented the concept of philosophy by admitting that he knows that he knows nothing. Therefore, his aim was to question everything and everyone that moved, so he will cease not knowing anything. Maybe then he would know better. It's a shame that he drank poison beforehand. It is sad to see that many failed to learn his wisdom, or even regard him to begin with.


And Plato, who was Socrates' apprentice, expanded on the notion of Socratic ignorance by developing an allegory that claims we are not only ignorant but more delusional than we might think.


Plato's Cave


Many prefer to see their own impressions as facts instead. Plato called it "The Cave." It's in that cave of delusions, where people see the bonfire and mistake it for the Sun, without actually questioning that assumption.


You might think that it is dumb to not get out of that Cave in search for the true Sun. However, be surprised, as many do not even bother venturing outside of Plato's cave. Perhaps you avoid doing so, too, as well as I did.


The point is that it is false to consider our impressions as a good base for the truth. The fact that things and beings are seem in a certain way, do not imply that they are indeed, that way. Plato's Cave allegory teaches us the importance of looking beyond our impressions. That includes intuition.

The Comfort of Delusion


There is comfort in self-confidence, even if it is based on delusion. It's just the delusion, you see, that one knows what he or she does not, that gives us a false sense of confidence, no matter how strong. In the name of the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it is, that we should eliminate as many delusions as possible from our hearts and minds. We shouldn't find comfort in delusion and yet we do because there is a connection between comfort and confidence.


However, by building our confidence on comfort, we "dig our own graves" by building it on assumptions that could easily be proven wrong. Arguably, the philosopher might not be well liked because they can destroy these delusions, and as such, destroy your confidence with his or her intellect.


The Tragedy of Philosophy


In short, philosophy's tragedy is the fact that the truth isn't always functional for our lives. Perhaps... is this why philosophy might be considered a minor niche by many?


While we may be interested in reaching truths, we might also be afraid of them. Afraid of what? Of being proven wrong. Of being shown that we are not as wise as we may think we are.

Being shown that some traits we think we have and that we believe are a part of us, are not components of external reality. Autism, for example... It would be hard to relate to others, and vice versa, when you're on the spectrum.


Self-Diagnosis


I don't really like self-diagnosis, because it could make people trust possible delusions. A true truth-seeker, I think, will seek to be professionally diagnosed if they can afford it. I do not hate people who self-diagnose; I simply criticize this method for its faults.


By the way, some people in my life have told me that "I think I know everything". They are free to leave me and never return. Some of which I disconnected from by choice, and I never made that claim to begin with.


Why would a supporter of Socrates think he or she knows everything? I don't even think it's possible. Omniscience.... is a great delusion, perhaps one of the biggest delusions out there in the human mind. Please remember that I said "perhaps", as I choose my words very carefully.


The assumption that a philosopher claims to know everything, is a very ignorant one, when much of this method was based on a person who claimed the exact opposite.


Disrespectful Disagreement


I don't mind being disagreed with. I only mind being disagreed, when it is done very disrespectfully. Your thoughts are important to me, but I have no desire to be tempted by the next panic attack. Why, then, should we not agree to disagree like grown adults? Dignity is elementary...


And it is easy to disagree disrespectfully while your impressions of the arguement or the person cause you to suffer negative bias. And, because most people I interacted with throughout my life treated me like dirt because of their impressions, which are beyond my control, I do not like most people. It requires virtue to disagree respectfully that many people do not have.


That virtue is stoicism. It's a rare virtue because the many people are driven by emotion and by hedonism. That, in turn, impairs their judgement, and creates unnecessary conflict and drama with others, without understanding the mental and medical implications of stress seriously.


I am, today, a sufferer of a lung disease. If I'm going to get stressed, my disease can get inflammetory. Why would I want that?

The Example of Height


Let me give you one of many examples where a confidence-based delusion was present: Someone I talk with once in a while told me that there is no person who is as short as an individual. I described this to him.


Have you heard of Afshin Esmaeil Ghaderzadeh? His height, according to Guinness World Records, is 2 feet and 1.6 inches, or 65.24 centimeters. Check for yourselves, if you want.

And that person, who will remain anonymous, told me that it is impossible, and that no one is truly that short.


Do you see how Plato's Cave allegory turns into reality? If the anonymous person did not challenge their own beliefs until now, then he saw the "bonfire" (his impression) as the "Sun" (reality). He could've looked it up themselves, just as I did, but it may be likely that they didn't bother.


Experience and Delusion


Experience with other people... may bring a delusion of its own. We might think that, because we have great experience in a certain field, we cannot be proven wrong, or are not very likely to be. It's a fallacy of its own that I might write about eventually. It's a fallacy because past experience does not necessarily indicate about current or future events. As such, even experts in their fields may be wrong in said fields, and it's not like expertise gives you absolute knowledge in the field you're an expert in. Political commentators, for example, may still be wrong when they predict an event. That's because they cannot predict the future precisely. That goes for weather reporters, too. They may have good predictment accuracy, but it is not absolute.


I guess that people with paranoia, for example, may justify their mistrust of others because they talk to a lot of people. Because they've traveled the world and met people of all walks of life, and so on. However, paranoia may still be irrational when, in actuality, there's nothing to be paranoid about. Because the fact that someone has a traumatized past, for instance, does not mean that a friend should not be trusted to a healthy extant.


In reality, there could always be an exception. In that case, there may always be, in theory, a man or woman who deserves to be trusted. Even if not fully, yes? But trusted nonetheless.

Confidence, arrogance, and perfectionism... all are, in a way, ways to "shoot yourself in the foot", if you give in to them too much.

I know I've been criticized for arrogance myself, but in many of the cases, I wasn't even aware that I was arrogant. It was mostly unintentional. To this day, I am attempting to be more modest. I don't really see myself above anyone. Feel free to prove me wrong, as long as it is done respectfully.


Until then, feel free to see how your impressions delude you.


Questions For You


To leave you on your merry way, I will conclude with this question: If someone hears something in a song they like, why would they instantly believe it? Another question, if I may: Are our thoughts true because "we are our thoughts"?


The answer to these two questions can be found in Plato's Cave allegory.


And the answer is: Because our impressions may often feel true, more than reality itself.


Additional Note


And if I may add another note, I never claimed ownership of the truth. Feel free to show me where I did it on Philosocom, and as part of the Renovation Operation, I will delete such a claim because I disagree with it.

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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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