Open Mind, Closed Mind

Open Mind, Closed Mind:

After a day spent toiling away at academic work, I took a pleasant break over at neo-neocon's place.

More specifically, I read her articles about changing mindsets, which sprang from an article about the metamorphosis of the thoughts of exiled Iraqi scholar Kanan Makiya.

I hesitate to speak of this subject: I am not too young to have gone through such a total investment in one socio-political mindset, but I am a little too young to have seen such a mindset fracture in the face of a dissonant reality.

There is an element to these stories involved which is troubling. In both cases mentioned, we read about people who gradually realize that they live in a closed system of thought. That is, they inhabit a mental environment in which the words and thoughts of those who disagree don't even rise to the dignity of error. Instead, this disagreement is the result of inability to see all of reality--or of active participation in evil plans to delude the rest of humanity.

Even as I try to avoid the error of thinking inside such a closed system, I am aware of the equal danger of being too open-minded. How many pieces of absurdity clamor for my attention on a daily basis? I filter most of them out with a few simple rules, rules which close my mental world.

Following the lead of Aristotle, I seek the golden mean. A mind that is open enough to acknowledge error, and a mind that is closed to nonsensical claims.

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