What is intellectual humility?
Wikipedia.org defines intellectual humility as:
Intellectual humility is often described as an intellectual virtue, along with other perceived virtues such as open-mindedness, intellectual courage and integrity, and in contrast to proposed intellectual vices, such as pride and arrogance. (Wikipedia entry “Intellectual Humility”, accessed June 2017).
Intellectual humility is the ability to be humble in your thoughts and intellectual contributions to others and the world. It is the ability to reason well and to think critically about critical issues. As noted, it is considered a virtue.
Why is intellectual humility important?
Intellectual humility is the ability to be able to reason effectively, and see issues from both perspectives. It allows a person to be able to step back from mere opinion and focus on truth and fact. I believe that this is important because it seems that most people argue based on emotion, which is the instinct of mere barbaric animals. If we are to become a developed and mature society, we need to be intellectually resilient. Advanced reasoning separates us from other animals.
Furthermore, to be able to view media and news media content about real-world issues and effectively separate truth from falsity is an important skill in an age in which we are bombarded with information. Secondly, if we somewhat adapt the Machiavellian hypothesis, to be able to see through the controlling arguments of others is invaluable as society is evolving not physically, but in our mental capacities and our ability to manipulate others in a social context while not committing any faux-pas. Most arguments are made to trigger our emotional responses so that it blinds our judgments, and to be able to counter this allows one to see truth more readily. When we can argue strongly without acting like barbarians, we have a much better chance of getting the point across, and will receive less opposition from the uninformed.
I don’t want to drag this on but I want to introduce a course series I recently discovered on the topic of Intellectual humility. There are three courses in this series, and you can learn at your own pace and in your own way. While there are quizzes and optional assignments, I imagine it couldn’t be too hard. It will take between 1-3 hours of your time per week depending on how much you engage with the course.
Please, I insist that you simply take the time to look at the course. Intellectual humility is one of the skills I believe are of utmost importance in the modern age. Especially for intellectual thinkers or academics, but also for the layman so that he may become a better consumer of media and news. While it may seem overwhelming with the amount of work and level of the subjects, give it a try and you can always leave the course if it doesn’t suit your fancy. Each course is one month and there is one per month. Make your summer an intellectually productive one.