Bigotry and Open-mindedness

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by Norsefire, Dec 22, 2009.

  1. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

    The word 'bigot' flies around way too often on these boards, and it is often misused and clearly misunderstood. It seems to me to be a sort of 'escape' for people losing an argument, whether on the left or right or any school of thought; granted, in some instances people are bigots, but I seem to notice, more often than not, that people just resort to calling each other 'bigots' when the other person doesn't agree with something or support something. That's nonsense.

    Let's ask this question: is a bigot close-minded? I would say, certainly, that's what makes said person a bigot. Thus, the opposite of a bigot would be an open-minded person; and if we say that bigotry is undesirable, then open-mindedness is desirable.

    Now we get to the point: what is open-mindedness? People today seem to confuse open-minded with tolerant; I must strongly caution all of you to not make such a mistake, lest you put yourself in a trap. The trap is, feeling obliged to be tolerant in order to be open-minded.

    Being open-minded has to do with being able to entertain, consider, debate, and see other arguments from other perspectives; whether one chooses to be tolerant of other ideas or lifestyles is irrelevant. They can be, certainly, and at the same time, they don't have to be.

    The point is: they have to be able to consider other ideas; they have to be able to give them a chance first, in their minds, and discuss them. After this, they can choose to be intolerant or tolerant, and either way they are open-minded. Thus, someone can be open-minded and tolerant, or intolerant and yet still open-mindedness. After all, you don't have to be tolerant, and I myself don't see any reason to go accepting every idea out there.

    Aristotle said, "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it"; by this definition, I am certainly more open-minded (if we take educated to be open-minded) than many of the members here. I am able to entertain even the most radical ideas, but nonetheless I stick and remain ruthlessly defensive of my own beliefs and you might consider me intolerant. Yet in my ability to entertain other ideas, without being self-righteous or anything, I am open minded.

    Thus, a bigot is a close-minded person; close-minded people may tend to be intolerant. However, it is a massive mistake to say that all people that are intolerant are close-minded, because that is not true. One can be open-minded, and still intolerant for whatever reason.

    Often, it seems to me to be the so-called "open minded" among sciforumers that love to throw the word 'bigot' around for anything that isn't all-accepting and all-agreeing-with-them. That is bigoted.
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  3. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    the problem here is that i am not so sure that there are really all that many people who confuse "open-mindedness" with "being tolerant," rather most (i believe; obviously, i have no idea what people really intend) consider "open-minded" as you have defined it here:

    and there are plenty of people, here and elsewhere, who have made it perfectly clear that they are NOT "able to entertain, consider, debate, and see other arguments from other perspectives"; and oftentimes, such people do not even make an effort to understand the concept or notion which is being discussed, and proceed with their "argument" from their misunderstanding--this would be an example of both "closed-mindedness" and "ignorance," i suppose.
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2009
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  5. Dirty Dan And knowing is half the battle Registered Senior Member

    I actually enjoy hearing other opinions and feedback. If I am not so set on my opinion of something, I usually change my opinion if I feel the feedback is convincing enough. I realy do like reading or listening to others opinions.
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  7. Doreen Valued Senior Member

    'Entertain' seems like the right verb in relation to 'open mindedness' The idea is juggled around in the head. I think it is very hard to tell if someone is actually


    an idea their first reaction is to disagree with.

    I think we mistake open-minded as a willingness to rationally (or otherwise) fiddle with the ideas of others.

    I think this is actually quite wrong. I think openmindedness is more introspective. What the other person says inspires us to look at our own beliefs and the experiences, ideas and emotions in ourselves that surround and keep our own beliefs in place.
  8. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    One question to ask might be: how many open-minded, intolerant people do you know?

    It seems to me that being closed-minded tends to go hand in hand with being intolerant.
  9. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

    Quite a few. Myself, and some of my Conservative friends.

    I said that myself; obviously, close-minded people will be intolerant. I am only saying

    a) you can be open-minded and not be tolerant
    b) there is no obligation to be tolerant

    Society has gotten itself into this trap, where it feels that it 'has' to be tolerant, but it doesn't! It's okay to be intolerant.
  10. shichimenshyo Caught in the machine Registered Senior Member

    It is okay to be tolerant or intolerant of certain things, the problem here is that some things that might make you a reasonable person in one culture would make you an unreasonable one in a another.
  11. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    and how ought this intolerance be manifested?

    and, suppose this "government by the exceptionally qualified" were a reality, and, of course, intolerance is a reasonable quality in such a government, correct? now, you are syrian, correct? and you (and your family?) live in the u.s., correct? well, the u.s.shall be our hypothetical example:

    the enlightened authorities have determined that persons of your ethnicity and nationality shall not be tolerated within the u.s., and all such individuals shall be forcibly removed and returned to their native countries--you are in complete agreement so far, correct? well, let's take this a step further: rather, the enlightened authorities have determined that people of your ethnicity are of limited sapience and have limited reasoning faculties; so perhaps it is best that you (and your family, et al) simply be enslaved and forced to work in sweatshops for 16 hours a day, 7 days a week--still all good, right?

    or do you consider yourself one of these superior individuals who ought to be in the position of authority?

    edit: sorry, i am conflating a few threads here--this thread and the democracy is regressive... thread in particular; but i feel that the ideas go hand-in-hand.
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2009
  12. Pipes75 Registered Senior Member

    I'm open minded.
    I have nothing but love and respect for everyone.

    I have no worries, but I try to welcome my new challenges.
    I have no doubts, but I know I have to work hard to get what I want.
    I have no fears, but I try to increase my awareness of self and surroundings, all the time.
    I have no regrets, but I'm always learning from my mistakes.

    At the same time, I have difficulty with all forms of disrespect. If I witness disrespect that escalates to a harmful situation, I will intervene even if I don't know the people involved. I just won't tolerate disrespect, and I see no reason why I should tolerate it.
    Ignorance is bliss, but when ignorance starts infringing on other peoples rights, I see it as a problem that needs to be dealt with.

    The term open mind gets thrown around alot too. I know the eye in my mind, I have my doubts to how open minded anyone can be without using their mind's eye. See I can recognize both extreme sides to any argument, but I never choose an extreme side to follow! I find my comfort between the extremes, where the possibilities are endless.

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  13. Norsefire Salam Shalom Salom Registered Senior Member

    Why, then, do you ask my opinion? The state will do what it will do, for the good of the nation; if it deems me unfit, then so be it. My opinion is then irrelevant.

    I don't know, but I do know that such a position must be earned and I'd want to earn it instead of having it handed to me and all the others.
  14. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    Everyone? Does that include convicted serial killers, vicious rapists, terrorist bombers, child abusers,....? ...and the list goes on. Wanna' change that "everyone" to something more realistic?

    Odd just said earlier that you loved and respected everyone, now you're saying that you don't love and respect people who are disrespectful? What is your scale of measure for disrespect? And what is your response to that disrespect? If someone gives you the finger (disrespect you), would you pull out your 44 Magnum and blow their freakin' head off?

    Hmm, here again ...first you say that you love and respect everyone, now you're saying that you don't love and respect people who infringe on the "rights" of others. What's the deal here? And "dealt with"? What's that mean? ..using your 44 magnum again?

    I think you should check your idealisms and be sure that they conform to your general reality. It's easy to make claims of "Love and goodwill" garbage, but it's much harder to make it work in reality.

    And remember your "love and respect everyone" when you respond to me! Don't get angry at me for asking a few questions. If you get angry at a few questions, what the hell will you do when someone slaps you ....start World War III?

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    Baron Max
  15. Enmos Valued Senior Member

    No, you can vote.
  16. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    correct; nevertheless, you may still have an opinion, as--apart from lobotomies, psychotropic medications, etc.--no one has yet devised an adequate means of taking this away from you.

    of course, this begs the question: what are you complaining about then (with respect to democracy, etc.)? first of all, there are no democracies and there never have been any democracies, as has been pointed out to you repeatedly--and voting is by no means "equal authority," and seldom do all votes even possess equal weight.

    nevertheless, you cannot name a process by which the "exceptionally qualified" can be determined, and neither have you named the essential attributes (or how one would go about measuring such were they identified) which would make one exceptionally qualified. and were you to name some, such would be of no consequence anyways: others will disagree with you, and as intolerance is perfectly acceptable, your opinions shall be considered and then discarded as idiocy.

    and so, how do these democracies (which do not really exist, but we shall consider the partial ones) differ from this ideal meritocracy of yours? perhaps the "exceptionally qualified" have simply determined that it is best for the populace to have some say in determining their leaders, and merit is determined by whoever gets the most votes--who are you to suggest that merit is not to be determined by the person who gets the most votes? but more realistically, by whoever has the most money--or the most affluent "friends," the best strategies and methods for manipulation, or the biggest "army" (metaphorically).

    and how do you distinguish "earning" the position from having it "handed" to you? you've worked the most hours, you've attained the highest degree, you've got the most friends, you've got the biggest guns? or you've got the most votes? or perhaps simply being born of the previous leader is sufficient for "earning" the position?
  17. codanblad a love of bridges Registered Senior Member

    Like snails I see the people go, Along the pavement, row on row;
    And each one on his shoulder bears, His coiling shell of petty cares
    The spiral of his own affairs.
    Some peer about, some creep on blind, But not one leaves his shell behind.
    And I, who think I see so well, Peer at the rest but cannot tell
    How much is cut off by my shell.

    I'm not judging you, i just like the poem and think of it whenever this subject crops up.
  18. parmalee peripatetic artisan Valued Senior Member

    of course, you seldom bother to entertain a clear understanding of the notions which you reject--or, at least, the past few threads which you have created are certainly suggestive of this. for example, you criticize democracy as being uncivilized and regressive, yet it is quite clear that you are not all that familiar with the concept of democracy--and this has been pointed out to you repeatedly by several members here in the other thread. i'm hardly a fervent advocate of democracy myself, yet i'm disinclined to embrace dismissals of such based upon misunderstandings.

    so how exactly are you "open-minded" when you dismiss an idea without even bothering to fully understand it in the first place? and when you say that you more inclined to "entertain even the most radical ideas" than "many of the members" here, what exactly do you mean by this? are you more of an authority on this ideal "meritocracy" which you espouse because you read the republic what, like a week ago? well, i assure you: there are plenty of people here who have read the entirety of plato's work, and i could name nearly a dozen off of the top of my head. moreover, in the time ensuing my primary source reading of plato 15 to 25 years ago, i have read hundreds of texts which reference such ad nauseam; i will not speak for others here, nevertheless i am fairly confident that quite a few members here can say the same.

    that said, i am sure that you are more inclined to entertain radical ideas than many here; likewise, there are many here whom i consider quite closed-minded. yet you are not helping yourself in any way by rejecting ideas for which you clearly do not have a comprehensive understanding.

    edit: on re-reading this, i think i came across harsher than i intended--what i am trying to convey is simply that intolerance borne of ignorance, or an incomplete understanding, is every bit as problematic as closed-mindedness. one can find something unacceptable to themselves, after making an effort to comprehend such as fully as is practicable; but deeming something unacceptable without a comprehensive understanding differs very little from closed-mindedness.
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2009
  19. lixluke Refined Reinvention Valued Senior Member

    The only thing I'm a bigot against is bigots. And atheists.

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