“It is the mark of an educated mind
to be able to entertain a thought
without accepting it.”
Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. He wrote on many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, politics, government, ethics, biology and zoology.
The ability to entertain a thought and examine it from multiple perspectives, without necessarily accepting the premise of the thought, is a mark of an educated mind and a mature philosophy because it demonstrates a lack of fear for new ideas, a solid understanding of – and trust in – one’s own position and it implies a willingness to change one’s mind. Conversely, actively avoiding entertaining opposing thoughts, demonstrates a fear of those thoughts and implies an unwillingness to adapt to new ideas.
Entertaining thoughts that might contradict what one already believes is a cornerstone of science. Scientists actively search for thoughts that might contradict established theories, even – sometimes especially – their own. Aristotle’s quote above means that we can think about an idea without automatically accepting it. We can choose to look at things from an objective point of view and weigh the facts carefully before making a decision.
It ALSO means that it is unnecessary to make a decision to accept, or to reject, every single concept that crosses our minds.
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