5 Little Known Reasons Your Content Writer Should Be a Philosopher

5 Little Known Reasons Your Content Writer Should Be a Philosopher

Philosophy is fun in the pub. Photo credit:  Club Soda Guide

Philosophy is fun in the pub. Photo credit: Club Soda Guide

Does the word ‘philosopher’ conjure up an image of a meditating guru sitting crosslegged on a barren mountaintop?

Or maybe you once took a philosophy class, so you know what philosophy is, but you’re a bit foggy on how philosophy can be useful. You realize it’s interesting to ask deep questions and to think hard — especially if that happens in the pub.

But what can a philosopher actually do for you and your business?

I will explain. But I’ll mention up front that I am both a philosopher and a content writer. Are you skeptical when an email marketing company promotes email marketing? If so, you’re probably skeptical of a philosopher-content-writer promoting the value of philosopher-content-writers. That’s great! I invite you to read what follows with your skeptic spectacles on.

Here we go. Five reasons your content writer should also be a philosopher…

(1) Philosophers are the experts at reasoning.

We are trained to construct arguments that function like well-oiled machines. Sometimes these machines are very complicated with lots of different parts. Speaking generally, though, the machines are intended to take inputs of truths (premises), and to dispense shiny, new truths (conclusions). Some arguments are intended to to dispense conclusions that are only likely to be true. The type of output depends on the type of argument constructed.

Your credibility is at stake when you publish content. So you need it to be truthful, and you need it to make claims that are well supported.

(2) Philosophers evaluate others’ reasoning.

As well as constructing our own arguments to find the truth, philosophers also ask whether claims made by others are true and well supported. Pedantry and pathological questioning are occupational hazards.

What, exactly, is the author’s argument? Does it work? Are all the premises true? What background assumptions are being made (either explicitly or implicitly)? Do we share those same assumptions? Or should they be defended? Can they be successfully defended? What happens if we reject those assumptions?

So, when a marketer says you need to do such-and-such, a philosopher’s finely-tuned BS detector kicks in. We ask whether they have good reasons to support their claim. Detecting nonsense can of course save you wasted time, effort, and money.

You need to know if there are good reasons for investing time and energy into something. Photo credit:  Lobo Studio Hamburg

You need to know if there are good reasons for investing time and energy into something. Photo credit: Lobo Studio Hamburg

For example, a Twitter aficionado might declare that your business must publish content on Twitter. But what if there turns out to be no good reasons to support that recommendation? It’s a better bet to put your limited resources into content strategies that are well-supported.

You need a content writer who can look into the reasons behind a claim and evaluate whether they are good ones. (And whether an alternative claim has better supporting reasons.)



(3) Relatedly, philosophers dig deep.

Philosophers are driven to do research. This doesn’t mean that all our research ends up in the final piece. You don’t want to bore your readers with too much background detail. But you need your writer to have sufficient supports working in the background.

For example, suppose you need an article on the three best pain relief strategies for arthritis sufferers. You don’t want your content writer to write about the first three strategies they come across on Google. You need your writer to have good reasons (in this case, empirical evidence) to put those three at the top of the list, and not any other three. Their reasons for putting other strategies lower on the list may not end up in the finished piece — but you need your writer to have those reasons.

A philosopher knows what is justified to claim and what is not. “The 3 Best Pain Relief Strategies for Arthritis Sufferers” is very different from “The 3 Most Popular Pain Relief Strategies.” Your readers must be able to trust you. You don’t want to let them down with content that doesn’t live up to the headline. If you disappoint them with clickbait, they’re more likely to leave your site, and you haven’t achieved anything.

Disappointing content is bad not only for your readers. According to some sources, if readers repeatedly bounce off your website, that may be harmful for your site in Google’s eyes too.

(4) Philosophers explain difficult ideas in simple ways.

If you’ve ever taken a philosophy class, you know philosophy is hard. Philosophy teachers need to put complicated ideas into simple language for students. As in any discipline, there are teachers who are better at this than others. But it’s something that all philosophers expect to do: Take difficult ideas and make them easy to understand. Both on paper and in the classroom.

Not philosophy, but it looks complicated. Photo credit:  Edinburgh Informatics Research

Not philosophy, but it looks complicated. Photo credit: Edinburgh Informatics Research

A philosopher who is interested in your industry is unlikely to be fazed by the challenge of explaining it, even if it’s complicated. A trained philosopher is typically comfortable with not knowing everything. (They won’t fake it!) And they will ask the right questions to learn what they need to know. Once they have the information, philosophers understand how important it is to express it in simple terms. You want the target readers for your business website to understand your content! Otherwise, what’s the point?

If you write your own content, make it as clear as possible. If you’d like to improve your writing skills, check out my list of recommended books on writing.

(5) Philosophers stick with it.

Because philosophy is hard, philosophers have a special kind of tenacity. (Masochism?) We are used to persisting and working hard to understand difficult material. To analyze an argument you have to understand it. To understand it, you have to know how all the claims (explicit and implicit) work together. You have to figure out whether the argument supports (or fails to support) the conclusion, and why. So if you need a ‘translator’ who is going to stick with it when the going gets tough, a philosopher might be the superhero you need.

We’re also used to taking criticism. If a sentence is not clear or accurate, you need someone who won’t be crushed by your criticism. You need someone who will roll up their sleeves and make it better.

So, what do you think? Are these are good reasons to hire a philosopher to write your content? Or did I try to snow you with rhetoric? Hit me with your arguments in the comments. (PS This article first appeared on Business2Community.)


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