Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Personal Strength of Open-Mindedness - Plato's "Allegory of the Cave"

This artful claymation treatment of Plato's allegory painfully illustrates the limitations of the closed mind.

Closed-mindedness isn't a byproduct of ignorance. I've known people with Ph.D.s who refused to consider a new concept. They doggedly defended what they were taught years ago, even though the new concept was more valid and more useful.

It isn't easy to get so smart that it makes you stupid. You go to school for years, and afterwards you spend your career applying what you learned. You're able to say, "This is what I know. this is the way things are. This is what I do." You do the hard things to learn it well so you can build a life using what you learned.

The problem is, other smart people are always busy working on building a better world. So things keep changing. New knowledge is developed and put to use. You want to remain effective, but it's discouraging because now some of what you hear contradicts what you already know. If you accept these new concepts, you may have to discard some of your hard-earned knowledge. Sometimes the new knowledge isn't superficial. Sometimes it affects the way you see the world. It isn't so easy to rewire your brain.

But if you can keep an open mind, you can continue to learn, and you can change as the world changes. And as you remake your mind, your value to the world will keep pace, and the process will keep you feeling mentally alive and young.

A Fortune Cookie...

If you don't have to be right, the right answer will be given to you.

More Fortune Cookies...

The story behind the Fortune Cookies...

Post by Dennis E. Coates, Ph.D., , Copyright 2010. Building Personal Strength .

1 comment:

Sean said...

Most of what you learn in college is of little use later in life. Shakespeare's plays? The chain rule of integration? The methylization process? Please. However most of those who who stick through graduate school realize that what you're really learning in college is... how to learn. And thus most of the real education comes later, as you teach yourself new (and hopefully more useful) things.