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Intentional Obliviousness
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Posted 1/15/07 , edited 1/15/07
It's something I've been working on lately. I'm generally an oblivious person, however, with this concept, I've found out how to make it into something good.

People who are informed and cite many resources and such are often given much trust and praise. However, I don't think this is as great as it is popularly claimed to be. The more we learn (particularly reading), the more we're building on other people's concepts and ideas, rather than thinking for ourselves and coming up with new ideas and concepts. In the long run, not only does it not challenge the mind as much, but it also creates a sort of inbreeding of ideas (which for this thread we will tag 'intellectual inbreeding' or perhaps just 'inbreeding'). This in turn, can lead to thinkers only running around in circles, until that is they think of their own concepts and create new ground. And remember, some of the people who we cite, had to have come up with their ideas from scratch. So what makes their's better than you thinking up your own (until they're tested in practice that is)?

While it may seem easy to keep thinking for yourself and read others ideas at the same time, it can get harder to think for yourself the more you take in (this could play in on an unconscious level). It can get harder to think of new ideas. Don't box yourself. There are no limits, nothing too extreme, nothing too controversial.

With this concept of intentional obliviousness, I propose clearing one's own mind through being oblivious. After thinking for oneself about whatever the subject is, then get informed. Sometimes only to see your ideas has already been thought of. At the same time, keep an anti-learning attitude though. Though this may seem ridiculous at first, I think it could be healthy in getting new concepts on the table. And hell, this doesn't just have to apply to intellectual matters either, it can be applied to many things, such as forms of art.
Posted 1/15/07
Nice idea, however if we didn't work from other people work we'd have to be continually starting from the basics, and make all the same mistakes over and over again.

I'd probably believe the earth went round the sun, not having been taught how to make a telescope and do simple maths to disprove it.
I wouldn't be able to understand how to keep within the speed limit while driving, let alone work out how long it would take me to get somewhere (that requires rudimentary calculus).
I prefer the idea of "standing on the shoulders of giants"
or from the mathematicians point of view "Standing on the shoulders of Hungarians"
Posted 1/15/07
Eh, you can't think so much about thinking, it kills kittens.

However, though "fresh air" is often essential for any project, I wouldn't recommend filling your head with it. Without standing on the shoulders of your predecessors, there is only so far that an individual life can reach. It is better to know your own strengths and weaknesses and boogie your best boogie with what you have, not concerning yourself with what intellectual candies you eat.

In English, practice moderation and instead of solving a problem, make it into a festive mess that someone else might find useful. Let your mind pick what it wants to learn or run with and do your best.
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Posted 1/15/07
Too many (difficult) words for a 6-years old kid
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32 / M / New York
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Posted 1/15/07
While I agree that one should analyze things on ones own, having other people sharing the same idea can make your point seem more important.

Original Ideas almost always get shit on to begin with. It won't be until other people hop on the bandwagon that it will get respect. Keeping your head clear is always a good idea though. Helps to relieve stress too...

Posted 1/15/07

Deceptive_Cadence wrote:

While I agree that one should analyze things on ones own, having other people sharing the same idea can make your point seem more important.

Original Ideas almost always get shit on to begin with. It won't be until other people hop on the bandwagon that it will get respect. Keeping your head clear is always a good idea though. Helps to relieve stress too...



Oy, you were singing my song just then. I've watched many group projects march off into the doom because people are afraid to experiment. Some day we'll show 'em!
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Posted 1/15/07
He who learns but does not think, is lost! He who thinks but does not learn is in great danger. ~Confucius (yes, I cited this on purpose)

I'm not sure I get your point, but the reason I started loving Philosophy was because by reading it, things I thought about reality were confirmed and challenged in a beautiful way.
I prefer to go with the "be aware of your ignorance" road. Not only does it keep my mind open, it allows me to comfortably challenge any idea or view I encounter. I question my self first, organize my arguments, and then I start testing them with other's views. That's why I despise reading the preface or introduction of a book, I only read those after I finish the book. We are all ignorant about pretty much everything but the point is to be aware of the fact that everyone including you is ignorant, not to intentionally choose to be ignorant because that leads to problems.

TiTanTHPS wrote:

The more we learn (particularly reading), the more we're building on other people's concepts and ideas, rather than thinking for ourselves and coming up with new ideas and concepts.


That only applies to certain people, it depends again on how open minded and skeptical you are.

Maybe I don't like the way your concept is worded, intentional obliviousness, sounds more like dogma to me that what you are actually trying to explain.

And I don't know about you, but I keep notebooks full with questions and ideas of mine, as well as criticisms and analysis of things I read; you should do that with this concept, and keep updating it.

Oh and if you're intentionally oblivious, doesn't that mean you are being aware of it? Isn't awareness the complete opposite of oblivion?
Do I even know what oblivion means?
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31 / M / US
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Posted 1/15/07
I like this topic, but probably don't have much insight to give. A similar notion that comes to mind is the idea in education to teach people to think, rather then to just solve problems or whatever. Philosophers should certainly be aware of how much they are writing just their peers.

I think I understand what he is getting at. What he means by intentionally obliviousness is not so much being aware of one's unawareness but forcing oneself(having the intention) to be oblivious to other's ideas on the subject until one has worked though their own a bit. So yea, while this is taking place one will be aware of being uninformed.

As has been noted before, trying to figure everything out for yourself really would suck. This is what is so great about internet and the global community. Ideas can be shared almost instantly, and more people can work together, so the project can be larger.

One thing to note is how much do we really start out as a blank slate? Of course not, our genes matter. Our environment matters. To some extent you will already have a framework of thinking. You suggest testing things by the preexisting framework, then expanding ones framework, and thinking on the topic again.

"it can get harder to think for yourself the more you take in" A key quote. Sure, it can. But, I think this is only a bad thing is particular cases. Your taking it as if the preexisting framework has some superior claim to the self. When you think like that, then necessarily that old self will get pushed in the background. One thing I've learned from "freedom evolves" is that the more humans know the more they can be free. Consider the earliest humans, hunter-gathers, thats how they had to live to survive. Now one can survive by being a philosophy teacher, or a basketball player. Simply, the more you take in, the more you can think about.

What I would really like to see is a list of benefits that this extra step would provide.Take a particular medium - Books. They are not typically written showing the exact questions the book will deal with, so one will work as they go. So, sometimes this extra step is just impractical. Overall reaction to the idea - Heck try it a few times, think about the topic on your own for a day, read the new stuff, then write down your thoughts and see how they have changed. Its worth it to at least give some insight into one's own thought process.
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Posted 1/15/07
Good points Eros.
.....I have to read Freedom Evolves soon.
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Posted 1/15/07
^ I thing I hate about myself is the fact that I hate books; I know the importance of 'those' though, I just hate reading complex books. I can say I am horribly guilty of Intentional Obliviousness. I hate reading cos I am a very bad critic and a worst spectator. I don't listen to whatever other will tell me; I stick to what I’ve started, what I’ve believed and will finish it by myself. My status quo attitude is somewhat a 'disadvantage' and a 'vise' on my part. I admit, I am flexible to some facts around me, however, I pretend to take 'those' facts(just to end the conversation) and forget about it. Things changed when I finally graduated and got a job. It really doesn't matter if a person wants to do things alone and create his own framework but it's obvious that it's not easy to start from the scratch. Frameworks are given so that other people can get something from it, reevaluate it, learn from it, and make something out of it. Well, "two heads are better the one"; we have to learn to accept other's opinion, to let go of your stand and begin working as a team. People will accept your judgment, if you also learn to accept theirs; and it works.
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Posted 1/15/07
^ If only you would post like that more often
Posted 1/15/07
i dont have time to read this all, but i read the topic post, and i couldnt disagree more. while i think others opinions and views may change our views, they ENHANCE them, not CORRUPT them as you are kind of pointing...you are trying to put logic to your laze of not reading more information before your own thought, putting false rationale i believe.
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Posted 1/15/07
Hmm...

When I started along my own path of philosophy, I would start by thinking of ways to doubt things, and then eventually finding out how others doubted the same idea. Eventually, I realized I held many similar notions of the great philosophers of the past, just by introspection and observation of the physical world.

Without the confirmation and and argumentation I found by looking them up, though, I think I would be a much more ignorant person.

Sometimes, confirmation of ideas (assent) is enough to make one feel more certain in a universe of uncertainty. Citing resources, I think, doesn't make you reliant on the logic of others, but instead helps you reach new ideas by learning about the views of others and testing them against your own.

I doubt there are really original thoughts. I'm sure someone sometime has thought what I think. I just need to lead myself to further conclusions.

I agree with Henz, gopherthegold, and deceptive cadence.
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Posted 1/15/07
^^^ ...what do you mean by that? blah blah blah
^^ and it's obvious that only geniuses can proved their works; perhaps if he is, I will comprehend.

~edited ^
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Posted 1/15/07
This reminds me of two quotes:

first, an old buddhist saying: "If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him."

second, a quote from Henry David Thoreau: "I regret that I was not as wise as the day I was born"

Basically the first saying is a very extreme way of saying have no master other than yourself, have no ultimate authority. The second quote gets more to the OP, and that is everything we learn makes us that much more away from who we "orginally" were (at least that's my interpretation of it). I don't necessarily agree with either of those, but they struck me as particularly relevent.

I think there is a fine line between becoming informed and indoctrinated, and I think the later happens in academia alot. Informed is when you research a subject and come to your own conclusions. Sometimes I may agree with what I read, other times I may not agree. I can read a book and not agree with all of it, some of it, or even none of it. Researching does not inherently buying into a particular way of thinking. For example, before going over the middle east, I researched Islam a fair amount. I viewed it quite objectively and found quite out quite a bit, most of which was far outside of mainstream oppinion and knowledge.

Now indoctrination is when you research a subject and fall in line with a popular camp without viewing it objectively. Maybe you're simpley jumping on the popular oppinion bandwagon, maybe you're intentionaly going against the popular oppinion, but the bottom line is your onjectivity has been lost. This also comes from researching only one side of the argument. Regardless of how thurough you may have researched this side of the argument, your information is still incomplete. I think this a real danger of going into a subject to open minded - you're quick to accept what your presented without giving it enough critical thought.

I'm intrigued by your statement "anti-learning attitude" - do you mean enter a subject a with antagonist approach to the established oppinion? I suppose there is nothing wrong with that, but it strikes me as the other extreme and just as dangerous when it comes to boxing in your oppinion. I tend to think that everything should be evaluated on it's own merit, regardless of popular oppinion one way or another.

Personally, I think it is best to keep an open mind, view things objectively and critically, but don't throw the baby out with the bath water. There is no need to reinvent the wheel just to ensure that it is your unique wheel. When it comes to science and technology it's alot more black and white (though there is certainly some grey). When it comes religion, philosophy, politics, and to an even extent history then you need to step back and make sure you're looking at the whole picture - not just a few scattered pieces.

Personally, you remind me of a personal philosophy that I've been developing for myself that I've been calling "Freethinking" (not very original I know, but it gets the spirit across). It's only in it's infant stages, but the questions you've been asking yourself remind me alot of the questions I've been asking myself of recent.
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