Fair-Mindedness ain’t for Sissies



Fair-Mindedness ain’t for Sissies

To be fair-minded one must be vigilant (consciousness plus intention) of the need to treat all viewpoints alike. This demands that we adhere to intellectual standards such as accuracy and sound reasoning, which are unaffected by self-interest.

A contrast with fair-mindedness is intellectual self-centeredness.

Fair-mindedness is a challenging task that demands a family of character traits: intellectual humility, courage, empathy, honesty, perseverance, and a confidence in the value of reason.

Our culture places maximum value not on fair-mindedness but upon self-interest, and maximizing production, and consumption.

Intellectual humility begins with the recognition that absolute certainty regarding any matter of fact is beyond human capacity. There exists no mind-independent reality that we have the capacity to know. We can know only that which is “colored†by our experiences and historical perspective.

Our common sense views, coupled with philosophical tradition and religious dogma, all teach us that such is not the case, that we can find absolute certainty. This cultural tradition works aggressively against our goal of intellectual humility thus demanding that we must become more intellectually sophisticated in order to gain the level of intellectual humility required.

Intellectual courage is a difficult assignment. We all tend to place great value on our own opinion, which is more often than not just something that we grabbed as it flew by. But this is even more of a problem when we are “wedded†to something that we have a strong commitment to, for what ever reason. Our political affiliation is one example.

Intellectual courage is especially difficult, and even dangerous to our well being when we hold ideas that society considers them to be dangerous; even though we are confident that they are rationally grounded. Society often punishes severely all forms of nonconformity; the execution of Socrates by the citizens of Athens might serve as a good example.

By developing this character trait of intellectual courage we will often be ostracized from a group or even a large community. Such an experience will give us incentive to recognize that most people live their lives in such a manner as to be secure in the middle of the approval of those about us.

Intellectual courage ain’t for sissies!

Intellectual empathy is a consciousness that one must engage the imagination in an effort to intellectually place your self into the shoes of another so as to comprehend that other person as well as possible. To accomplish this transaction we must try to learn as much as possible about the other person’s situation so as to reconstruct that person’s assumptions, premises, and ideas.

Many of these ideas were gleaned from the book Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal Life by Richard Paul and Linda Elder


Fair mindedness and intellectual centred approach to life isn't as different to one as you imply. I could argue that a 'fair minded' approach is also intellectual in direct assertion because it is in need for a degree of understanding of the 'fairness' when one looks to co-relate what needs direct comparison against what is termed 'unfair'.

If you are talking about intellectual differences, then I could argue that nothing is indifferent to intellectual assertions - not even idiosyncratic decisions that, in all levels of social involvement, are usually fairly repetitive considering the extent of these approaches in general. Intellectual courage or a number of the stated romantic terminologies surrounding the term 'intellectual' in your or the author's explanation may be utterly expansive but fairly repetitive considering the extent to which the term and concept, 'intellect', attempts to encompass.

As such, while you may look to quantify the extent of terms when you look to describe assessment based of one's understanding and reason, it is merely a process of pluralising that which is already all circumventing.

So I may end this with the statement that fairmindedness is indeed for sissies, those who cannot see the distinction between comparative reality and rhetoric of some new list of terms surrounding man and his reason - Intellect.