I recently came across this post, Belief is a kind of blindness; and “dialogue” about your message with “diverse” people may foster new insight.
“The fact is, we carefully edit our reality, searching for evidence that confirms what we already believe. Although we pretend we’re empiricists — our views dictated by nothing but the facts — we’re actually blinkered, especially when it comes to information that contradicts our theories. The problem with science, then, isn’t that most experiments fail — it’s that most failures are ignored.“
This could be taken as the Epitaph of our times. We have run into the barriers hidden by these blinkers in every field of endeavor and every avenue of research. This is a fundamental dynamic behind our crises of expertize and of leadership. What is needed is disciplined action that avoids these common pitfalls. For this to happen we need to challenge what we consider to be disciplined AND what is action.
“This is what I do.” I get between assumptions and question expectations. This is what makes sense out of what would otherwise look like a scattered C. V.! I am conversant within a wide range of fields and can communicate with specialists ranging from philosophers to hackers, from poets to engineers. And, I cultivate an instinct to smell out unexamined assumptions, my own as well as anyone else’s.
What this article describes as functions of areas in the brain, I’ve been coming to see as “Negative Capability.” This may sound like a disease, but it is the ability to defer judgement and hold onto apparent oppositions without prematurely forcing a conclusion.
In current expectations, premature might count as minutes or days, but who would seriously imagine withholding judgement for twenty or thirty years! That’s when we get into range of negative capability. That is the span of effort and insight we need to avoid our common traps.
Again, referring to Jonah Lehrer, we tend to find the mixture of traits he discusses in the young. They tend to be free of allegiance to a status-quo. What they lack is range of perspective and the patience to avoid falling into traps laid out for the unwary. There is something insincere and desperate about turning to “innocents” looking for judgement. Even the most brilliant prodigies are unable to grasp wider frameworks about their discoveries.
It’s another “sign of the times” that this subject generates so much confusion! My own included! Blinkered urgency has taken us into overshoot in this, as in so many other ways.
There are people who express these traits.
This is what I do.