What does it mean: Open Minded

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chuck.drake

#1
Being open minded. How do you personally define it? What does it mean in the larger context of the proponent or "skeptical" camps?
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#2
I think Robert Anton Wilson's take on this is good:

Wilson thinks of “matter” as a metaphor. He defines a “liberal materialist” as “one who holds that materialism is a ‘relative best bet’ among competing philosophies, or the most plausible model around, whereas the fundamentalist materialist—either out of ignorance or philosophy or out of sheer bravado or out of blind faith—proclaims that materialism is the One True Philosophy and that anyone with doubts or hesitations about it is insane, perverse, or a deliberate fraud.”
 
#3
I consider it a measure of a person's willingness to hear arguments. If they're not willing to hear argument, they're not worth talking to. If they have an argument, it only matters if their argument has valid points.

The comical trap of proponents calling themselves open minded and skeptics calling themselves "critical thinkers" is kind of boring.
 
#4
What it really means to me is approaching each situation with the minimal number of a priori assumptions. In other words, when presented with a new idea, I try not to bring my mental baggage (pre-existing beliefs) into the conversation. It is also maintaining a humble attitude - if you think you already know the answer, you can't be open minded. This can be a problem for both proponents and skeptics.

Sometimes being open minded is misconstrued by skeptics as being gullible or just believing anything. I would rather think of it as being flexible - to be able to say "I'll set my belief system aside for a moment and try yours on, just to see how it works"

I like to think of my mind as being like a liquid, with all the world's roles, perspectives, and belief systems as containers. If I wanted to, I could pour myself into one container, and my mind would completely take the shape of that container. But over time, sitting still in one shape will make my mind go stale. I'd rather keep it flowing. So in certain situations, I will take on a certain set of beliefs temporarily as it suits me. Some ideas or activities are better approached from different mindsets. If I am studying a physics problem, I'll put on my scientist hat - but when I am meditating, the scientist role is not very useful. Ultimately, none of these descriptions are 'me' anyway.

This quote from Bruce Lee was about developing martial arts, but it applies to so much else in life :
Don't get set into one form, adapt it and build your own, and let it grow, be like water. Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless — like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; You put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend.
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#6
I think the current political landscape on these issues lumps anyone thinking there might be something to the paranormal into the category of "proponent".

I, for example, might be best classified as a "soft" materialist.

One can easily reframe the debate between dogmatic materialists and everyone else.
 
#7
I guess I consider myself unable to really declare that I know anything for certain. That is at least the starting point for open-mindedness for me personally.
I'm with you on agnosticism chuck. Unfortunately, Alex has spoken out against it on recent podcasts.
 
C

chuck.drake

#8
I'm with you on agnosticism chuck. Unfortunately, Alex has spoken out against it on recent podcasts.
I guess part of the problem with that stance is how to even begin to talk about things. I don't know much about logical thought, but I guess you need to make certain suppositions in order to form any kind of opinion. And then we have the issue of how to ferret out our own subconscious conceptualizations that must necessary color our world view.
 
#11
I'm with you on agnosticism chuck. Unfortunately, Alex has spoken out against it on recent podcasts.
That's his loss then.

I don't even think materialism is the "best bet." I just think that idealism and dualism aren't any better. I guess that makes me sooper-dooper open-minded. ;)
I like dualism as far as opinions go. At least as far as:
  • Materialism has the hard problem of consciousness.
  • Idealism has the hard problem of matter.
  • Dualism tosses them both out and goes "I donno, but they're both here."
Though the mechansms for any of the three are promissory at best right now. :(
 
#13
Closed mindedness, on the other hand is adopting a position and viewing all evidence through that lens. Look at this reply from Alex in the latest podcast thread:

great point! to emphasize... it's not like we lose our ability to function... in fact, it seems to be enhanced in a lot of ways... so, we have to conclude that this self and time stuff... the stuff we build our entire existence around is not fundamental to who we are -- science is dead!
Really? I find it difficult to follow the thought process here. I appreciate that may be my problem, but I'm not sure how you get to the conclusion - "Science is dead" - without some heavy duty preconceived ideas.
 

Paul C. Anagnostopoulos

Nap, interrupted.
Member
#14
I like dualism as far as opinions go. At least as far as:
  • Materialism has the hard problem of consciousness.
  • Idealism has the hard problem of matter.
  • Dualism tosses them both out and goes "I donno, but they're both here."
Though the mechansms for any of the three are promissory at best right now. :(
Indeed, and why is "I dunno" any less of a hard problem? As far as I can tell, here's how it works:

I just can't imagine how we could get consciousness from matter, so that's a hard problem.

On the other hand, if I assume idealism and then have a few beers or perhaps take some drugs, I can imagine consciousness "just being there in all its glory, all-of-a-piece, a wholistic wonder." Therefore there is no hard problem under idealism.

~~ Paul
 
C

chuck.drake

#15
Closed mindedness, on the other hand is adopting a position and viewing all evidence through that lens. Look at this reply from Alex in the latest podcast thread:



Really? I find it difficult to follow the thought process here. I appreciate that may be my problem, but I'm not sure how you get to the conclusion - "Science is dead" - without some heavy duty preconceived ideas.
I tend to give Alex a pass since it is his podcast and forum. I don't share his certainty on most issues. But I admire his doggedness in the same way that I admire that trait in a lot of people here. It makes the site more interesting for sure. If everyone threw up their hands and said ultimately nothing is knowable it would be a pretty boring place.
 
#16
I tend to give Alex a pass since it is his podcast and forum. I don't share his certainty on most issues. But I admire his doggedness in the same way that I admire that trait in a lot of people here. It makes the site more interesting for sure. If everyone threw up their hands and said ultimately nothing is knowable it would be a pretty boring place.
OK, fair enough... Alex may have realised that he's in the "entertainment business" more than anything else.
 
#17
Indeed, and why is "I dunno" any less of a hard problem? As far as I can tell, here's how it works:

I just can't imagine how we could get consciousness from matter, so that's a hard problem.

On the other hand, if I assume idealism and then have a few beers or perhaps take some drugs, I can imagine consciousness "just being there in all its glory, all-of-a-piece, a wholistic wonder." Therefore there is no hard problem under idealism.

~~ Paul

That may not be a "hard problem", but a lack of imagination?
 
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Sciborg_S_Patel

#19
None of the "isms" really seem to have a lock.
I think most of us are going to instinctually feel that there's an external reality made of matter. There seems to be suggestions of a certain "softness" to reality though that might, depending on one's predilections, be worth exploring.
 
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