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Why Good Philosophers Are Not People Pleasers

Updated: Feb 24

An object that looks like a phone

2023 Note: This article has been revamped and is targeted to philosophers/philosophy writers


Are you a people pleaser? Do you aim to please as many people as possible, if not everyone who interacts with you and your work? In philosophy, pleasing others is irrelevant to the quest for insight, because insight does not change or compromise itself for the public's approval.

Therefore, as philosophers, we are committed to two things in that regard: that people will love us, and that people will hate us. Either way, we cannot expect ourselves to pay much attention to external reception when our goal in life is to seek insight. When we do that, people will either approve or disapprove us for our efforts; Some may even treat us like dirt for doing this work.

Compromising our work just to get a positive reception can definitely damage our quest for further insights, because the philosopher does not write to please, like many other types of content creators may do. No. The reception deserves to be lower in priority, unless it has something constructive to do with our own work. By "constructive" I refer to the ability of a criticism to improve upon our own work; refine the present material, and inform us of our mistakes and fallacies.

Any other reception, especially and irrationally lambasting, is not really relevant, is it? It logically isn't, no matter how abusive or violent it may appear to us philosophers (and content creators in general). Positive reception, even if not constructive, is far better in comparison, when we can utilize it to be in good spirits, and have faith in our work.

In other words, we must tell others our conclusions regardless of whether they will like them or even begin to despise us. Of course, we need to make sure that these conclusions are logical.

The problem with philosophy as a profession is that one will inevitably have to cause a certain degree of discontent to someone eventually. That's especially true when it comes to uncomfortable or controversial topics --- especially if they are relevant to contemporary society.

Unlike prostitution or even running a coffee shop, the role of philosophy is not to please others, but simply to present them our logical reasoning, arguments, and conclusions about certain topics. The point of our work is to generate insights that can help this world, thus further proving the relevancy of philosophy as a field of study.

And unlike the other professions I mentioned, the goal is not to get a "like", an "upvote" or whatever. The quality of a good philosophy piece is measured by its reasoning and by its relevance. The virtual engagements are simply there as a display of proof, nothing necessarily more than that. As such, the philosopher isn't necessarily an attention-seeking narcissist. He is simply a recorder of their own findings in this niche. And like myself, he or she may use personal examples if desired, in order to increase interest, and make the readers relate more.

A philosopher is simply the messenger of their own thinking, not a cashier at Starbucks or Walmart. Whoever thinks that a philosopher's writing should please them is far from right, because philosophers are not there to serve like a waiter, but simply to present what they believe to be true after contemplation.

Therefore, as long as the reception does not try to limit the philosopher in their work, negative reception should be of little-to-no concern to the insight-seeker who shares their work to others.

The truth is, nonetheless, not always pleasing. So it would be counter-intuitive for the philosopher to hide the truths in their findings to the readers, if their purpose is to study the truth. It would be a paradox.

I turned off the comments on Quora for a reason; I had enough with the entitlement of some people who may or may not think I should write whatever they like to hear, as if I am there to tell them whatever they like. This niche is an exception to that rule, and it shouldn't be my problem if whatever conclusion I've reached displeases someone.

Nonetheless, it is important to still write in a professional, calculated approach, even in this field. Writing in a civilized and polite manner can make your readership appreciate you more. You do not have to write in a demeaning, intentionally-arrogant way in order to deliever your findings. In fact, writing in a more mature and respectful manner can ease unnecessary, offensive reception inflicted by displeased readers.

Remember: Humans are largely emotional beings. Some of these emotions are just unnecessary for a rational discourse. For that end you can do something very simple: "Bring the medicine before the injury", as we say in Hebrew, by reducing offensive and uncivil features in communication. Do so, and you can avoid a lot of unnecessary drama and suffering. Coincidentally, it is also the moral thing to do -- to reduce unnecessary suffering.

A philosopher can be compared to a blanket. Even if it will only cover some of your body, it doesn't have to cover several people in order for it to be a good blanket. Even for a blanket, there is a limit to how many people it can keep warm in a cold night. If you're unsatisfied with one "blanket", use several of them. A good philosopher doesn't have to be the only one you're listening to.

And on the same breath, the good philosopher is well aware that he or she cannot please everyone in the first place. As such, they will not aim for that. By not aiming for that, they are more prepared for displeasure from others. Logical, or otherwise.

Do not "give power" to the severely irrational, who have no clue about their own logical fallacies. The pain they may wish to inflict on your mentality, can be avoidable using your own sense of internal reasoning.

As a content creator in general, you have the power to influence the minds of your readers, but you can also influence their hearts. Taking that into consideration means that you have power that you might not even be aware of, as a communicator. Still, do not fall into the illusion that influence is direct control. No. Influence is far more subtle.

Those who are more refined in subtlety, are also good at charming others. And as an experienced writer, I seem to have that affect on people. Perhaps I did to some of you? Eventually, it can come naturally, like a well-developed, metaphorical muscle.

The people-pleaser is not the same as the charmer, necessarily. The charmer is more assertive, and is charismatic enough to gain the respect of other people, using the combination of assertiveness, politeness and respect. In comparison, the people-pleaser may lack the self-confidence and the self-respect to gain the respect of others. Unfortunately, both of these lackings can have them manipulated by abusers, such as the mentioned narcissists and other people of more-evil nature.

There is no way to fully estimate whether or not one is logical enough on social media beyond mere statistics of approval. That is, unless a deeper connection is to be forged between the creator and the content-consumer. Anything else can, unfortunately, be nothing more than a product of sterotypical thinking. And as we know, stereotypical thinking is very fallacious, when it comes to the understanding of the reality outside our heads.

Although impressive, these statistics are nothing but an indication of the "Ad Populum" fallacy -- the fact that many agree and support you doesn't make you correct by default. Thus, a philosopher will not place approval as a high priority; that position is for insight and insight primarily.

And of course, a good philosopher will not necessarily be controversial and hated on purpose. It is a very poor rhetoric method, if we can even call it one. Why would people want to read someone who feeds on the hatred of others? If anything, a good rhetoric like a tyrant may arouse hatred towards people or groups other than themselves. And a good philosopher is also good in rhetoric.

Whatever the result is, AKA the "product,", the "content" is as legitimate to receive approval as it is to be disapproved. Do not cancel constructive criticism, whether done offensively or not, just because of your personal sentiments. No. I once talked with a self-described psychopath. Despite his hatred towards me, he actually helped me writing an article by shedding light into the world of psychopaths.

So, I didn't really intended to please him at all. And yet, he helped me without even knowing. Being called an "blinder-wearing idiot" mattered little to me. Why? Because the truth mattered to me more, than to please this morally-depraved, violent being. And of course it mattered to me more than an ad-hominem attack.

We should not hide the fact that philosophizing is a work like any other, whether it is at university or when writing articles such as this. A good philosopher, therefore, should also put the limit of how much hate they are willing to receive due to their work, legitimate as illegitimate. After all, we do not invest our time and energy just to be harassed.

The people-pleaser on the other hand, may prioritize pleasing those who harm him mentally or otherwise. It isn't very rational, when we can have the confidence to set boundaries.

In conclusion, don't expect yourselves to agree and enjoy each product you're consuming. You are not drinking a latte at Starbucks. You're reading something that can trigger you as well as make you feel anything else possible. The philosophy-reader is here to learn. The philosopher is there to dispense products for study.

The philosopher isn't a therapist, and is not necessarily responsible for your emotions as you might think they are. Whether these emotions are problematic or legitimate is a very subjective matter, and as such, up to a lot of indefinite speculation.

As long as a writer/speaker's words are legitimate, in a sense that they do not incite or call for acts of terrorism, the "coffee" they serve to you is good even if it's not of good taste to you.

EDIT: There are some relevant articles in this subject that I'd like to refer you to:

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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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