Are you Open or Closed?

I have found in my encounters with people that there are two kinds of person.

Actually a better way to express this is that I have found that two categories which I either discovered – or more likely – created are useful for describing and talking about people.

These categories I have called openness and closedness.

Aristotle’s quote “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” is a good, succinct description of an open person.

A word that is close to closedness is bigot.

A closed person has their opinion and are willing – all too willing – to express their opinion and hear other people express commensurate opinions; but they will not listen to and try to understand the opinions of other’s if they run contrary to their own.

Both the closed person and the open person are susceptible to verbosity and to remaining silent.

So how much someone talks is not a metric for how open or closed they are.

What defines the open person in contrast to the closed person is the way in which they listen.

An open person listens with the intent to understand. If the thoughts being conveyed run contrary to his own he will suspend disbelief and attempt to understand as if he believed.

A closed person listens with the intend not of understanding but of criticizing, showing as wrong the thoughts of the other and showing how his thought is superior to that of the other.

Of course people oscillate between these two states.

A closed person can be very open when he is conversing with someone about a subject he hasn’t developed any concrete beliefs about.

I’ve noticed this particularly in religious people; amongst whom I include atheists because they are both quite dogmatic and the questions “How did reality come to be?” and “Is there a God?” are both unanswerable with the scientific method (or any method I have come across in my hotch-potch wanderings through philosophy).

In fact they are metaphysical questions and the negative answer to the question of God is as much a positive metaphysical proposition as the affirmative answer.

The agnostic position is the only position with regard to such questions that we can give any grounds for. That is we can show that we just don’t know and show the reasons for that inability.

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2 thoughts on “Are you Open or Closed?

  1. Really like this characterisation:

    “An open person listens with the intent to understand. If the thoughts being conveyed run contrary to his own he will suspend disbelief and attempt to understand as if he believed.

    A closed person listens with the intend not of understanding but of criticizing, showing as wrong the thoughts of the other and showing how his thought is superior to that of the other.”

    – Perfect!

    • Thankyou 😀 I’m doing a follow on blog from that. I’m looking at openness and closedness in relation to intelligence and I think that openness is a very general definition of openness – – – – Then whilst I was writing the first draught I realized that I’d internalized Heidegger’s concept of resoluteness (Entschlossenheit) which literally translates as unlockedness. The footnote to the translation I’m reading says “the emphasis being on freed and open for something.)

      So really all that I’ve done is re-articulated a heideggerian concept and then related it – in this post – to communication between people and in the post I’m going to put up today I’ll be relating it to intelligence.

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