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2/12/2015 1:46:58 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
What does it mean to be open minded?
Being open minded means that you 1) accept the idea that you are wrong about some things (no one's philosophy/point of view is perfect, or at least, we haven't found a perfect one yet), 2) accept that other people have knowledge about things that you yourself aren't very well versed in, 3.) accept that you will find yourself proven wrong at some point (be willing to acknowledge when you are wrong), and 4) accept change when you find your faults. This means that you are constantly considering other possibilities and that you are changing your beliefs to accommodate new information.
Most of us like to think of ourselves as pretty open minded, but that's because we think that what we don't agree with is universally bad, that there's no way that x philosophy or y point of view is rational, so we close ourselves off from those possibilities. Examples of beliefs that we as a society do this to are things such as sexual taboos, racial supremacy, and anarchism. We, as a society, feel that there's no way such modes of thought can be rational or correct, and thus completely close ourselves off from the very real possibility that they may be right. Of course, this doesn't necessarily mean that they are right, but what I mean is that as a society and as individuals, we accept some ideas to be wrong without even considering them.
The value of being open minded is that we come to understand more about the world and that it allows our philosophies to evolve and become more truthful. Being closed minded is essentially a form of ignorance because it keeps us from forming new points of view-- it keeps us stagnant. We might as well not even bother. If we want to do what's best for the world and for the species, we need to become more educated and our philosophies need to become more refined and rational. Open mindedness can help us do just that.
But how do we become more open minded?
Keys to open mindedness:
> Every time you come across a statement, try to disprove it (The Eye of Scrutiny method). Especially do this with commonly accepted statements or "universal truths"; break down the logic behind it to its very core and be merciless with the facts.
> Separate yourself from your emotions when you are considering an issue (when I think I'm about to become angry or when my emotions begin to cloud up my thought process, I take deep breaths to restore a sound mind). Understand that many times, the truth is against what we feel in our hearts to be true.
> Understand that human emotions, human conceptions of good and evil, and human behaviors are not all inherently valid. The "instinctual" ways of thinking and acting are not necessarily the best. Detach from your own humanity when considering matters of truth.
> Nothing is too trivial or impossible to be considered. Consider every side, no matter how silly or irrational it may seem to you at first.
> Do a philosophical "spring cleaning" every now and again. What we thought was true in the past may not hold true today, so take a self-survey of your points of view on various topics and reexamine them at least once a year. Remember, no point of view is too "true", "time tested", or "obvious" to be spared from this exercise.
> Think of new points of view to every situation. For example in the gay marriage debate, there are those who are for it and those who are against it. What about being against marriage for both gays and straights? Try to generate as many points of view as you can for the topic that you are examining; many times you must try to think outside of the box.
> Use the Alien Eye thought experiment: Imagine that you have just landed on Earth from a distant planet. You are not human; in fact you are completely new to all human customs. What do you think about the way humans live? About the way they structure their societies? The key here is to be both detached and scrutinizing. It's also quite fun if you like sci-fi.
> See your philosophies as a project, rather than a part of you. Once you identify with your philosophy, any attack on that philosophy becomes an attack on you personally. This makes considering opposing opinions impossible without also throwing away your sense of self. Instead identify as nothing more or nothing less than a consciousness with unique experiences and personality. You may identify as an introverted skeptic or as an artist or as a person with a natural love for philosophy and long walks, but do not identify as an "atheist" or "conservative".
> Understand that the truth has no obligation to you. It doesn't matter who you are or what you believe: the truth doesn't have to pander to you. It doesn't care about your ego or about your deeply cherished beliefs. It just is, and it's your responsibility as a rational human being to accept it no matter how repulsive it may be to you.
> Understand that being wrong is one of the best things that can ever happen to you. It gives you a chance to be
> Take one side when you debate or discuss and hold your ground. Fight to be right for the duration of that discussion. Then, once it is over, review the debate with the Eye of Scrutiny.
> Understand that one can be closed minded even if they surround themselves with opposing points of view all the time. The key to open mindedness is also being open to being wrong. If you simply put on a heavy coat of armor when you discuss/think about an issue and spend the entire discussion trying to prove the other wrong without reexamining your own beliefs, you are practicing closed mindedness no matter how many times you've engaged in conversation with someone you didn't agree with.