It Is The Mark Of An Educated Mind To Be Able To Entertain A Thought

It is the mark of an educated mind
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“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” -Aristotle

Aristotle (384 – 322 B.C.E) was a Greek philosopher and prolific writer of various knowledge including science, agriculture, poetry, linguistics, and politics. He’s best known for his writings on empiricism and his formalized system for reasoning. As the “Father of Logic”, he encouraged open-mindedness and guarding one’s thoughts against fallacy and faulty reasoning.

Open-mindedness is a corrective virtue that maintains harmony by fostering tolerance instead of biases and discrimination. Unfortunately, people have cognitive tendencies that work against being open-minded. In the research by Taber and Lodge, they’ve found out evidence of people’s inability to accept information inconsistent with their prior beliefs. This so called “primacy effects” is one of the cognitive tendencies commonly used by trial lawyers. Another cognitive tendency is selective exposure, or the act of avoiding opposing information by selectively exposing oneself to information that coincide with one’s belief.

In their book “Character Strengths and Virtues”, Peterson and Seligman described open-mindedness as “the willingness to search actively for evidence against one’s favoured beliefs, plans, or goals, and to weigh such evidence fairly.” This willingness can be encourage and practiced, according to psychologist. One proven method is to list down arguments in both sides and try to come up of more arguments in the opposing side instead of the favoured side.

Being open-minded is a trait of a leader. To quote Simon Sinek: “One of the best paradoxes of leadership is a leader’s need to be both stubborn and open-minded. A leader must insist on sticking to the vision and stay on the course to the destination. But he must be open-minded during the process.”

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