The Art of Thought
While attending a training class at my job the other day, one classmate brought up the blue net in a discussion that took place about the downtown Phoenix art displays.
Upon my coworker finishing his comments (which I recall as being mostly positive), I openly remarked that I thought the art displays (including the net) were awful. Not only is the program expensive, but the overall theme of the art pieces is meaningless. It is an example of intrinsicism, in this case it is the appreciation of art for art’s sake.
One of my teachers was surprised at what I said. She disclosed that she had a degree in art from a university in California and stated that art is subjective and not objective. She went on to say that all art should be presented openly and equally and claimed that just because all art forms are shown doesn’t mean people have to agree with them. In her view, people can decide for themselves which art they like and which they do not.
Aside from my disagreeing with her and that, in the case of downtown Phoenix’s art, people even have to pay for art they disagree with via the force of taxation, her point has a serious logical flaw. In terms of presenting all forms of art equally, the result is not only art but all ideas, values, and behaviors (no matter how unrealistic or dangerous) are considered worthy of contemplation.
Ultimately, according to this standard, objectivity of any kind is rejected when determining which ideas are contradictory or invalid. According to this logic, one cannot or should not determine which ideas, art, literature, philosophies, etc. are right or wrong.
The idea of being open minded is rooted in egalitarianism. It is also the denial that there is any absolute knowledge which is known as skepticism. Proponents of being open to or tolerant of other ideas or entertainment are not the high-minded crusaders for truth and justice they make themselves out to be. Rather, their ultimate goal is to refute someone making claims based on knowledge that they disagree with or hinder provable statements.
The open mind argument is really a form of mental laziness. It is used by skeptics to undercut the certainty of conclusions of others based on fact so they do not have to justify their beliefs or attempt to rebuke objective knowledge. Regardless if any evidence is lacking to support a certain idea, skeptics say, one should be open to it. Passing any judgement contrary to or disagreeing with perceived or popular ideas one is open to being accused by skeptics of being judgmental, dogmatic, demagogic, or an ideologue.
The worst part about it, the tactics skeptics use against those whom they dislike or disagree with are often successful. As a result, people are afraid to or will not pass judgement on things they consider wrong for fear of being labeled close minded.
This, in turn, can affect a person’s ability to think and reason for themselves. The more dissent or disagreement is hindered, the less likely someone will be willing to speak out and, consequently, continue to believe that dissenting or disagreeing isn’t worth their time and effort.
Something skeptics obviously hope for unless they are the ones doing the thinking not only for themselves for but for others too. Unfortunately, this kind of activity is being seen in the one place you would least expect it to occur: college and university campuses.
In the film Indoctrinate U, filmmaker Evan Coyne Maloney interviews students and even faculty who have their opinons or intellectual freedom hindered by the collective mindset of students and members of academia.
Maloney gives specific examples of the use of institutional mechanisms, like speech codes, which are used to punish students who express political views that are deemed unpopular. Even faculty who disagree with university policies are shown in the movie and can have their academic freedom and their jobs jeopardized too.
One who subscribes to objectivity will know or discover through the usage of their reason which ideas are contradictory, and which are not. He or she will examine each thought thoroughly and critically utilizing the facts involved and will make a decision based on which ideas correspond to reality.
A true open mind is one that is open to all facts and uses logic in order to connect them. The usage of reason is a person’s primary means of thought and survival and should be closed to anything else that is the opposite of or hostile to critical thought such as faith, supernaturalism, tradition, or subjectivism.
The next time someone tells you that you should keep an open mind, politely (but firmly) tell them no thanks. Follow up by saying that you prefer an active and objective one and do not be intimidated by others who would discourage you from having your own ideas much less thinking for yourself.