Last year, I became fascinated with philosophy and modern thought. The idea that different people, all acclaimed and highly accomplished people in their own right, had developed such a vast array of explanations for historical and contemporary phenomena was exciting and opened a myriad of questions inside my mind. How could the same event or experience elicit such different and sometimes contradictory responses? I just had to find out.
When Adam Smith looked at the way nations functioned and the way wealth was circulated, he formed his own belief set which was the progenitor to modern day trickledown economics. When Engels and Marx looked at the same phenomenon, however, they proposed a completely opposing explanation. All this time, Hegel's input of dialectics was in motion, as they both become the thesis and antithesis of one another. Who was right? The answer was more complex than I thought. Clearly both of them had history on their side, citing noteworthy examples of the forces they unearthed in action. Statistically, too, the world was divided for more than 45 years, into factions of Soviet Red and American Blue. I spent hours and hours researching, looking aimlessly to a solution. I realized later that this search was my biggest undoing.
What I learned was that most of the time, there isn't any right or wrong. Everything had to be seen strictly in context with the way that world worked. All of a sudden, everything started to make sense. I could understand why Plato's republic was so revolutionary, or why Herzl chose to mould Socialism into Fascism.
Depending on how one viewed the world, any number of possibilities could be found to make sense. If that is indeed true, I noted, the lens with which I view the world are the most important factor in my evaluation of its systems. So if the lens were biased, everything else that followed would automatically follow suit. This realization has been a key component in my perception of the world, especially ideas that are new to me. So I try and approach every scenario, every course of events, every reading packet and every idea with an open mind, a mind open to the possibility of learning something new.
Socrates famously remarked once that, 'All I know is that I know nothing'. It is this approach, of intellectual humility, that guides my learning compass. The greatest virtue of education is the ability to unlearn and re-learn. And that only comes to an open mind.
I get geared for college in this spirit of open mindedness, susceptible to the experience that is true learning. And you know what the best part is? Someone else would have gotten to a completely different conclusion than I did, using the same tools and experiences at my disposal. And he/she would have been completely justified in doing so, too.