Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Something about ideological dogmatism

I heard someone on NPR this morning (can't remember who at the moment) talk about how we've "self-segregated" in this country in terms of our political outlooks. As a society, we tend not to acquaint ourselves with positions other than our own or to consider them. This really limits the quality of political discourse considerably. I think you can see why I like the following:

Dogmatism breeds intolerance. Like ideology, dogmatism puts blinkers on what its adherents can see, disables their questioning faculties, and breeds fervor and fanaticism. . . . Having an open mind does not mean that one never comes to any convictions in life. It is perfectly possible to have an open mind and live a very principled life, without holding one's beliefs dogmatically. Having an open mind means being prepared to question even your most central beliefs if there is occasion to do so. It means being open, when the time comes, to having your mind changed by an argument better than one's own. It means being able to think both sides of an issue, both the side you think is true and the side you think is false. It also means being able to suspend your beliefs, to play devil's advocate, and to detach yourself somewhat from your own beliefs, actions and feelings. Only living with an open mind gives us a chance to grow and change, for change is inevitable, while growth, unfortunately, is not.

-- Jeff Mason

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