Cognitive arrogance

I discourse frequently about cognition and its limitations.  This is no accident as it is very relevant to me personally.  So much of my life has been limited by various cognitive grasps of reality which only later do I discover to have been very confining and….ahem….very narcissistic.  The key is, not to attempt to discard cognition….as if that were possible in the first place…but to recognize that there is a world out there beyond our cognitive grasp of the world and that in embracing that “world out there” we become a little bit more humble and tolerant of those who look at things differently.

Here are a couple of quotes I’ve ran across recently on the subject:

A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices. — William James

I happen to feel that the degree of a person’s intelligence is directly reflected by the number of conflicting attitudes she can bring to bear on the same topic. — Lisa Alther

It is in fact a part of the function of education to help us escape — not from our own time, for we are bound by that — but from the intellectual and emotional limitations of our own time. — T. S. Eliot, Unknown 

And this last one I came across 30+ years ago but just cannot remember the author.  He said, “Our thinking is the belated rationalization of conclusions to which we have already been led by our desires.”  To summarize, he was saying, “We think just what we want to think.”


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