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lapilofu's avatar

Do you consider yourself open-minded? What does that mean to you?

Asked by lapilofu (4325points) August 11th, 2010

Are you an “open-minded” person? What does it mean to be open-minded? Are there ideas or subjects you are not open-minded about?

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31 Answers

mrentropy's avatar

I believe I’m open-minded about just about everything.

zophu's avatar

It depends on what you mean by open mindedness. There are minds that have been compartmentalized, and they’re willing to shuffle around those compartments; that can be called open-minded. Then there are minds where things are just laid out for it all to mix together in an writhing foamy ocean of everything-is-everything; that’s usually called insanity, but I think it’s the most open-minded you can be.

A lot of times, when people think of themselves as being open-minded, they think they are considerate of anything that crosses their way and not too stingy with their pondering. But when they want other people to be open-minded, they more just want them to agree with some point-of-view. So, it’s hard to gauge.

I guess a general definition for open-minded would be: willing and able to consider other points of view without bias.

But who can do that? I lean more towards the churning ocean of madness in my openmindedness.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

No.It’s an over-used catch phrase.Any amount of BS can be poured into an open mind.
I have a discerning mind ;)

Berserker's avatar

I believe that I am, but I’m probbaly not, not even close. Being a Goth doesn’t make me open minded.
What it means to me is not necessarily acceptance, but at least tolerance, without judgment or acting on it, good or bad. (A lot of good may create much bias.)
It also means, for me, the desire to learn and explore, and I most certainly do that, the problem is, I forge convictions and stand by them by what I see and find, so that’s probably bad.

Bad, but in comparison to what?

Not wanting to drag anyone down to my level, but, however, I don’t believe that it’s possible to be open minded about absolutely everything or everyone. People require conviction to confirm their stance whether it’s correct or incorrect, and judgment is not always bad, and even if it is, it’s still a natural human element. It’s a way to scout the terrain and deem if, for who or what you think you are, it’s safe or not.

I was going to use an example of something I don’t like to attempt and clarify my point, but then I’d be killing my whole point…at least I try.

zophu's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille I envy you. I’ve had to undo so much bullshit I’ve come to believe by having too open a mind growing up. It’s like picking out splinters, but there are always more and deeper into the flesh.

mrentropy's avatar

I have an open mind and I won’t let anyone tell me any differently.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

@zophu-I can’t say as I’ve reached perfection with it. yet XD
Everybody falls for something at one time or another :)

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

Being open minded is inhabiting a state where you are still prepared to reconsider all your ideas. I am open minded in some things, but not others. I am perfectly willing to reconsider my political views, or develop a new view of the universe if a more successful scientific theory is put forward. However I am also very closed minded in other areas, for example I refuse to reconsider the validity of the scientific method simply because I see it as an unproductive topic that can only have one answer. I am also closed minded with regard to conspiracy theories and alternative therapies because I think there is a minute probability that reconsidering my stance will be productive enough to be worth the required time and effort.

zophu's avatar

Yeah, it has more to do with how much energy one puts into reconsidering presumptions. So, open-mindedness must be moderated to make sure the energy is utilized efficiently. However, the more energy one has for reconsidering presumptions the better, so regular exercise is wise. Perhaps it’s best for everything to be questioned on a regular basis, even the fundamental stuff. Just to stay in shape.

Then there are presumptions that people don’t reconsider because they depend upon them, not because they lack the ability to focus the effort. Those are the real problems. The unquestionable presumptions, like immortal cells that can reproduce and spread through the mind like an all-consuming cancer. That’s close-mindedness if we can use the term like a diagnosis of disease.

MoxieGal's avatar

I’m willing to try everything once… twice if I really like it. :)

But seriously, I consider myself to be pretty open minded about things. To me being open minded means not judging someone else for their tastes, or habits, or lifestyle, etc. Live and let live. That’s the way I roll. Unless it is directly hurting someone else of course, then you get the frowning face of MoxieGal.

BoBo1946's avatar

I listen and make up my own mind. I’ve never been a follower! Never was real sure what being open minded meant.

Austinlad's avatar

To me, open-minded simply means staying receptive to an idea or belief from another sources, not being locked into one’s own. This doesn’t mean you have to accept them (although you might wind up doing so); it means you’re willing to listen to and consider other viewpoints.

ETpro's avatar

The dictionary is always the best reference to what a word means. If we all concoct our own ideas of word meanings, they cease to have any meaning in communication with others.

Checking an online dictionary I find:
1.—having or showing a mind receptive to new ideas or arguments.
2.—unprejudiced; unbigoted; impartial.

By that definition, I believe I am open-minded. I do not hold any known sacred-cow beliefs that are unassailable. But that does not mean by any stretch of the imagination that I am blown about by every new idea I hear. If there is any single idea I hold strongly to, it is the null hypothesis. Unless there is reasonable, verifiable proof of a falsifiable postulate, it is probably false—and that is how I will continue to view it till proof comes along.

My guess is that those who claim the open minded are seduced by every new idea they encounter are the closed minded who are seeking to justify their position by denigrating all who are open to reason.

Cruiser's avatar

I have an open mind to just about everything and anything legal. IMO to each his own as long as it doesn’t hurt me or my loved ones. In fact there is not much of anything I won’t allow for but I despise and recoil from blind faith almost more than anything.

momnipotence's avatar

I feel I am open-minded…I think that being open-minded means accepting others’ ideas, opinions, flaws, beliefs….pretty much accepting people for who they are and not being judgmental. I had a pretty hard time with being open-minded for a very long time and didn’t realize it but people from my past have made me see the error in my ways.

Jabe73's avatar

I view myself as open-minded because I am willing to admit I maybe wrong and look at new evidence. I do not believe everything that is thrown in my face however and I am quite a skeptical person.

lapilofu's avatar

I would also like to answer my own question: I think that I am open-minded. To me, what this means, is that I do not believe dogmatically. I make decisions about how to see the world based on information as it comes to me regardless of what I used to think or of tradition. Most of all it means that my convictions—even the ones I feel the strongest about—are open to persuasion by a good argument or new information.

DominicX's avatar

If I go by some people’s definitions of “open-minded”, it means that you agree with everyone and have no opinions of your own.

That’s not how I use the phrase “open-minded” at all. To me, it’s just the willingness to hear someone else’s argument or ideas and not covering your ears and running away. It doesn’t mean that you aren’t confident in your own opinions and ideas.

ETpro's avatar

@DominicX It would seem that those who insist that open-minded means driven about by every whim are just not open to accepting what the dictionary says the word means. As such, they are providing a perfect example of the antonym of being open minded..

zophu's avatar

@ETpro Since we are being open-minded enough to use definitions from dictionaries we find online as the primary authority on what words mean to us, here’s one to consider:

Reconsider—verb; to consider a matter thought already to have been decided.

One doesn’t have to change or disprove the concepts that they consider, but being able to reconsider even the most decided concepts is necessary for being consistently receptive to new ideas since they may conflict with those concepts.

But you have a point, reconsidering all decided matters every time a new idea crosses your path is impractical. So, being constantly open-minded is impractical. It’s just with the most important new ideas that people should be expected to be open-minded about, I guess; if we are going to set standards and start handing out “acceptably open-minded” badges or something.

ETpro's avatar

@zophu Agreed. And if you would prefer some other dictionary’s definition of open-minded, by all means provide it and I will reconsider the one I offered.

john65pennington's avatar

I was out on medical leave from my police department for 14 years. after the medical crises ended for me, i wanted to return to my department. i was advised that being out of uniform for that many years, would require me attending and graduating from my police academy a second time, at my age of 58. i knew i had the challenge from hell facing me. the running, the physical training and oh yes, the average age of the police recruits at the academy was 25. i knew the criminal laws had changed and i also knew that i was going to have be extremely “open-minded” in a class of recruits 40 years younger than myself. i had to accept “their way” of thinking and learn to adapt. it was tough, it was rough. all of us did not see eye to eye on my subjects and procedures. i made myself flexible and just rolled with the punches. keeping an open-mind with these recruits was not an option. i am happy to say that we all graduated together, a second time for me.

ETpro's avatar

@john65pennington Congratulations and thanks for sharing a perfect personal anecdote to illustrate the idea of keeping an open mind.

TexasDude's avatar

I have an open mind. My mind, however, isn’t so open that my brains have fallen out.

perspicacious's avatar

Yes, I strive to keep an open mind and open heart. That simply means that I do not refuse to acknowledge that things may not be as they seem to me, as well as knowing that people come in all shapes, sizes, colors, and with different philosophies. We don’t have to only allow those like us into our lives. Each new person in your life brings the possibility of new experiences, thoughts, and knowledge.

stranger_in_a_strange_land's avatar

Like @Symbeline , I don’t think it’s possible to be totally open-minded. I’m willing to accept ideas and lifestyles that are not compatible with my own, as long as they don’t conflict with my basic principle of not harming innocent others. As to abusers, exploiters, traffickers… I’ll “accept” them, as targets.

BoBo1946's avatar

Anyone that is a member of Fluther is open-minded in my humble opinion.

ETpro's avatar

Interestingly, I was just reading about Albert Einstein writing a paper in 1917. He had already put forward his theories of Special Relativity and General Relativity. In this paper, he was exploring the mathematical conclusions that flow out of relativity. He got ever so close to predicting that there had been a Big Bang, and that the Universe was expanding. The math was taking him straight there. But he was so blinkered by the prevailing belief, held by all of science, that the Universe was static; that he invented a completely arbitrary “Cosmological Constant” to force his calculation to yield what he believed it should. I would guess Einstein was one of the most open minded, inquisitive of human beings in generations, and yet he was not immune to hypothesis myopia. So all of us must be constantly vigilant lest we have on blinders when the truth is right there before our unseeing eyes. Great question, @lapilofu.

mattbrowne's avatar

Being able to challenge my assumptions. Be tolerant of all tolerate people and groups.

NaturallyMe's avatar

I consider myself to have one of those, yes, in the sense that i’m always willing to accept view points that i didn’t know before, especially about things concerning the unkown (the after life as a simple example). That doesn’t mean that i allow any old thing to just fall into my mind, that’s stupid, i still have a brain and what makes sense to me i will accept, and what doesn’t, i will reject or set it aside until it can mean something more to me.
Some things i’m not open-minded about and am not willing to change my mind (eg matters related to animal cruelty and what acceptable treatment of animals are, and probably a whole lot more other issues as well).
I don’t think there’s anything to be gained in being totally generally closed-minded about most things.

BoBo1946's avatar

what mind?

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