Why Psychological Safety is Important (Philosophically)
Updated: Aug 1
"Psychological safety" refers to one's sense of confidence that they will not be humiliated or punished for speaking their minds. This includes committing mistakes and raising concerns. That's how Wikipedia defines it, anyway. Psychological safety is imperative in philosophical circles because it allows the speakers to debate without fear of being rejected for their thoughts.
Without it, it would be difficult to add fresh ideas to a philosophical discourse. If we resort to condemning others with personal attacks merely because they spoke honestly, how are we expected to open our minds? How are we expected to learn if we "punish" new ideas just because we do not accept them?
Judgement appears to be difficult to endure, even at the thought of it. I'm not speaking on a universal level. I am referring to people who have problems with self-confidence. After all, anyone can think anything about you. The expectation to create good impressions in the minds of others might be met with the disappointment of reality.
Some people may feel the need to be safe in that regard more than others. A private security force wouldn't necessarily give us this kind of safety. The answer to this is simple: tolerance. Even if we disagree with something, let us remember that philosophers are not necessarily pastors. Other people can enrich us, even if we disagree with them completely.
Besides extreme ideologies such as Nazism, why wouldn't we tolerate the thoughts of others? If someone is a firm believer in magic, and we think magic is nonsense, must we speak awfully of them and/or their views? After all, we ourselves may be wrong.
One of the reasons I don't use Quora to ask questions is because there is no psychological safety there. It's also one of the reasons I disabled commenting there. I've been writing there since 2017, but it seems to me that there isn't much point in entertaining all the toxicity I've experienced there.
The reasoning for toxicity there is the same in other places too: people in public forums won't necessarily care for your emotions.
So, I don't see the point in wasting the time of those who purposefully get in your way. I honestly use Google instead for my questions. I asked there before.
By stomping down on people's confidence, we may unintentionally censor the potential for growth. That includes the potential of people with high intelligence. Not just for them, but for us as well. As a philosopher, I'm more of an explorer than a pastor. I enjoy hearing what people think because I think I can learn from anyone and anything.
Should I condemn people for thinking differently than I am, it would be like shooting myself in the foot. In other words, how am I supposed to grow as a wisdom seeker if I depress other people's need to express themselves?
And again, I deliberately try to be interested in other people's thoughts. The point of it is this: I may be wrong myself. Always. Ideology to me is merely a tool, not a religion. It used to be when I was less experienced in this trade.
When people ask me to sum up my whole philosophy in a few sentences, there's a problem. The problem is this: It can always change as new insights abound. It's like water, and not necessarily a concrete structure. Being open-minded means being prepared to be proven wrong by anyone. Even by complete strangers.
Therefore, this is my vision for this site. I want people to feel free to express themselves, as long as no disrespect is given or intended. I strive for mature and serene exchanges of ideas so we can learn from one another. Who knows? Maybe one of us holds the correct notion about reality!
And this is one of the reasons I myself do not wish to make people feel as if they're walking on eggshells: We are all entitled to our beliefs and opinions. An excessive sensitivity may be in our way of better understanding reality.
If it means I will reject some of my emotions, then I prefer being resilient to hiding from the world. I don't see a reason to hide from other people as a philosopher. Other people can be excellent sources of information and insight. Hiding completely from the world means being more ignorant than otherwise.
And if I let you feel psychologically safe, I expect the same from you on my own website. After all, I never claimed that I was always right in my estimation of existence. I am merely writing my thoughts and publishing them for the world to see. Using logic and insight, my hope is to be as correct as I can. It does not mean this hope will be a success in the real world.
With this intention in mind, I hope to clarify the stereotypes assigned to philosophers: The false notion that they're those who think very highly of themselves and behave as if they know everything. All because they are self-described and philosophize.