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The Table Video

James Spiegel

Cultivating Open-Mindedness [From the Table #9]

Professor of Philosophy and Religion, Taylor University
September 3, 2014

We all hold our beliefs near and dear. Close to our hearts. To the point where they’re a part of who we are. But remember your finitude. Read broadly. Talk to people who vehemently disagree with you. And then think about: When is it appropriate to be open to changing your mind? Philosopher Jim Spiegel (Taylor University) reflects on the how-to of open-mindedness.


People hold their beliefs very dearly, and we think of our beliefs as very precious possessions, or even aspects of us somehow. So in that sense, maybe all open-mindedness is personal. A kind of openness to be influenced by someone. Seems like from a Christian point of view, we should have that kind of personal open-mindedness and willingness to recognize that persons may change for better or worse.

So how can a person become more open-minded? Are there things that we can do to cultivate this virtue? And I think there are. For starters, it’s important to recognize your own fallibility and finitude. There’s only so much that any given person can know, and all of us nurse certain beliefs that must be false, you think about the Christian community and the disagreement within the Christian community.

Well intentioned, intelligent people, disagree on all sorts of issues in terms of theological doctrine, moral beliefs, political beliefs. So just from a statistical standpoint, even if you’re the smartest person in the world, no doubt you are holding some beliefs that are false.

To read broadly, to expose yourself to alternative points of view, perspectives, on all sorts of issues. And to actively seek out and be willing to converse with people who are not like-minded, and to really hear them, to be a sympathetic listener. These are the sorts of things that I think can build a virtue of open-mindedness. [relaxing music]