Philippine values and philosophy
The Philippines is the only country I know of where the word “philosopher” is considered an insult.
That’s right. To the Filipinos, a “pilosopo” is a smart aleck--someone who engages in meticulous and abstract reasoning, thereby incurring the ire of other Filipinos. The statement “Namimilosopo ka na naman” is a huge slap in the face. It’s a way of shutting down reasoned discourse, instead of attempting to refute the logic in question.
This word can also mean someone who attempts to challenge conventions, traditions or widely held beliefs. A “pilosopo” marches to the beat of a different drummer, and therefore a thorn in the people’s collective side. In a society as passionately conformist as the Philippines, this type of behavior is widely regarded as unacceptable—weird, even.
This choice of words is interesting. In other nations, philosophers are regarded as wise and learned sages. In China, for example, Confucius is widely revered. In the Western World, even the relatively unlearned know that the likes of Plato, Socrates and Aristotle are to be respected and emulated. Yet in the Philippines, to be called a “philosopher” is a dire insult, a term of extreme derision.
A related insult is the statement, “Palagi kang may dahilan!” or “Palagi kang may rason!” (rough translation: “You always have an answer, don’t you?”). The connotation here is that if you have an rebuttal to people’s objections, you are some sort of smart aleck and you need to back off. To be sure, there are times when people can take reasoning too far (i.e. when they’re trying to defend an untenable position); however, in situations like this, the implication is typically that reasoning is something that is frequently devalued, especially if it challenged authority or rocks the boat. Amidst the conformity of Filipino society, that is simply not tolerable.
This choice of words shows the low regard that Filipino society has for critical thinking and challenging of the status quo. It’s a society where anti-intellectualism is a virtue, and where too much careful thinking is a sign of weirdness and unacceptable behavior. Socrates would not be proud.