I’m going to start off today’s mailbag with a Dare.
Whatever side of the political spectrum you happen to find yourself…next time you are watching the News, I dare you to watch your opposing side’s channel for at least 5 minutes.
If you get your current events from CNN or MSNBC, for example, switch on Fox News or click on the New York Post. If you read the Washington Times, then check out the Washington Post. Apply this to whatever local outlet in whichever country you find yourself!
That doesn’t sound too tricky, I hear you say… but there’s a catch…
You need to 1: Not shout furiously at the screen.
And 2: Practice a bit of healthy Skepticism (the ancient kind) and suspend judgement.
One of the more recent Media charts by Ad fontes Media (NB: Ad Fontes is a Latin expression which means “[back] to the sources” (lit. “to the sources”)
That means you have to watch and actually take it seriously.
This is important – you need to try to understand the best version of your opponent’s argument. This is called ‘Steelmaning’ their position (as opposed to ‘strawmanning’, which is attacking the weakest version of their point. This will help strengthen your own understanding of the issue).
You might already do this! As a Classics lover you probably are already predisposed to finding the nuance in this messy political climate…
Perhaps, indeed, this missive would be best forwarded to friends and family still learning the Skeptic ropes… A bit of ancient wisdom for modern minds wouldn’t go amiss these days! And in preparation for the inevitable questions to this little dare – or should I say philosophical exercise – we come to today’s mailbag question…:
Do we NEED to hear Opinions we don’t like? What is the Importance of Differing Views? And why should we try to be objective in the first place?
As always you can comment below or write me directly at [email protected].
I’ll be particularly interested in your comments, because it’s a topic I’ve had to discuss a lot recently when explaining our upcoming Symposium (taking place THIS Saturday). You see, I’ve tried hard to ensure we have a diversity of ideas represented. Indeed, one of the speakers is from the Ayn Rand Institute, which sometimes provokes a bit of a response.
For those wanting a recap, the Russian “Atlas Shrugged” author Ayn Rand (the philosopher behind the philosophy of Objectivism), was heavily influenced by the Classics, in particular by Aristotle. Nowadays she is sometimes dismissed as a darling of the right… but I feel this does Rand an injustice.
Watching her speak you can tell her mind is working on another plane from the rest of us… Being a genius doesn’t necessarily make Ayn right (think of the many philosophies proposed over the centuries!), but it does mean that you will certainly learn something by considering her ideas because she has a completely different perspective on things. Her views might reinforce some of your opinions or contradict them, but either way it is you, the reader, who will benefit from the experience.
Take, for example, her book on Capitalism…
The foundations of capitalism are being battered by a flood of altruism, which is a major cause of the modern world’s collapse…or so says Ayn Rand, a view so radically opposed to prevailing attitudes that it constitutes a major philosophic challenge. In this series of essays, Ayn Rand presents her stand on the persecution of big business, the causes of war, the default of conservatism, the evils of altruism, and the nature of individual rights.
It is considered a challenging new look at modern society by one of the most provocative intellectuals on the American scene.
Classical Wisdom Symposium attendees will have the pleasure of hearing Aaron Smith of the Ayn Rand Institute speak on Sunday on Morality and Political Power.
Smith, who has a PhD in philosophy from John Hopkins University and specializes in ancient Greek philosophy, will discuss the need to interrogate and sometimes radically rethink our conception of morality.