Thursday, April 1, 2010

Openness of the Mind

Topic: Psychology and Philosophy

It's interesting how condescending people can be regarding disagreeing points of view. There are two issues with this attitude. The first one is moral, and the second one is intellectual. A lot of these people don't care about the moral aspect, but the bigger issue is that the majority of them try too hard to justify their behavior, which leads us to the second, more comprehensive problem: Close-mindedness.

I believe that close-mindedness is the most intellectually limiting trait a person can have. It gives birth to arrogance, which limits the ability to learn pretty much anything. The way I see it, open-mindedness is the most important trait that separates the average person from the genius.

Here are a few of Albert Einstein's traits which hint at that.

1. Curiosity: “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious”. Curiosity, the genuine desire to learn. Genuine curiosity implies open-mindedness. You aren't curious if you aren't willing to look outside of your point of view.

2. Imagination: "Imagination is more important than knowledge”. Imaginative people have no trouble comprehending outer points of view. Being quick to dismiss other points of view is limiting one's imagination.

3. Experience: "Information is not knowledge. The only source of knowledge is experience". People often depend on information rather than knowledge to judge other points of view, and that is close-mindedness. If you don't "know" much about the other point of view, then the correct thing to do is to be openminded to the actual knowledge that creates it. Someone somewhere gained knowledge through experience on a certain topic, and embraced a point of view. Without that knowledge and experience, you can't be fully aware of the validity of their point of view. It's similar to how some currently popular technologies were ridiculed by the close-minded until people actually experienced them, such as the mouse.

4. Striving for value: “Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value", and "A person who never made a mistake never tried anything new”. This one is about accepting new ideas, rather than a conflicting point of view. A lot of people are close-minded to new ideas out of fear. Fear of foolish failure caused by accepting a new idea. But success shouldn't be our main objective, and shouldn't prevent us from taking risks. What's important is that our experiences be of value. If Einstein strove for mere success by avoiding anything that could lead to mistakes, he might have succeeded in becoming a good scientist, but his creativity would have been wasted. His knowledge was a result of countless risks taken.

There's a saying: "Don't be too open-minded, or your brain might fall out". That's something I call "Close-mindedly open-minded", which is really just a delusion of open-mindedness.

The bottom line is, be open-minded, and try to make use of any point of view in any topic you're interested in; that's your best chance to be of real value.

1 comment:

  1. "Where there is an open mind there will always be a frontier." ~Charles F. Kettering

    I say, Boldy go.