Cynic παρρησία isn’t always welcomed.


Phil Somers, posted in one of the Stoicism fb groups with a caustic but pertinent critique of consumerist Philosophy.  

He has this to say:

“So I have been slow to realise the fact that Stoicism is just a commodity that can be exploited. I used to believe it was this noble philosophy, but now I see it is so much more. So here is a preview of my new e-Book on Stoicism. Pricing to be announced shortly…”

 Some folks took umbrage with his post, but as is often the case, Phil has an ability to cut through the surface of the issue and strike at its heart. 

Deciding to make money from philosophy is not something one does lightly if they’re doing it with a full heart, and I think most are.  It’s a narrow edge to walk.  The best way, I suppose, would be to put out whatever you’re doing and if remuneration happens, it happens.

A danger exists if sales becomes an end, or a goal.  If the desire to bring in dollars shapes the discourse, then we can wonder quite far from the path.  Of course lots of money can be made by saying “use this philosophy to get money, sex, and prestige.” It is probably significantly harder to make money saying, “virtue is the sole good, the results of your action have no moral worth only your intent does, give up worldly desires, and align yourself consonant with nature.”

That’s a much harder sell.

Even philosophers have to eat, and most of us don’t live in a ceramic jar.  Musonius talks about right livelihood, and other Stoics have as well.  Teaching classes is an endorsed career  for a philosopher, and selling books seems decidedly in that vein. 

I took Phil’s reminder to keep the goals of Philosophy in mind, stay humble, and hold yourself to a high standard. The Stoics and Cynics are sibling schools, and the παρρησία of our closest relative can only make us better philosophers.

Thanks, Phil.

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