The UnMinding Process: My Guiding Principles

I find myself constantly explaining these principles to people who assume I’m “hateful” and “bigoted” for questioning ideas that they love and identify strongly with, so I figured I’d put my philosophy all in one place.


My Guiding Principles for the UnMinding Process

9:

All ideologies, beliefs and assertions should be questioned, and no exceptions should be made — not for my family, not for my friends, not for my idols, not for the oppressed, not for my culture, not for you, and not for myself.

8:

I avoid assuming that if someone believes differently than I do, then they must know less than I do. Instead, I practice assuming that they know different things. I expect this respect to be reciprocated by whoever I’m engaging in discourse with, or else I disengage.

7:

I won’t dismiss an idea based solely on the identity, history or stances of the person sharing the idea. There are no perfect messengers.

6:

It’s best to have a code of ethics in place separate from one’s beliefs. Ethics should come before ideology, not from ideology. This is to ensure accountability for any harm caused.

5:

I reject the notion that engaging with one side of a debate makes me hateful of the other side. In fact, I believe engagement across ideological divides is a moral imperative.

4:

Efforts must be made in all discourse to encourage knowledge-seeking. This means nobody should be shamed for not-knowing something, nor punished for their attempts to understand something. All questions are fair questions, and everyone has the right to seek information. Let ye who knows everything cast the first stone.

3:

In general, I find that labels have an immobilizing and compartmentalizing effect. Identification with a particular worldview tends to limit one’s ability to appraise other worldviews objectively. For this reason, I do not identify with or represent any particular group or ideology.
In doing this, I am not insinuating that every debate has a “middle ground” or truth on all sides, nor am I implying that I think I’m a fair judge of every belief system in existence. Actively avoiding labels is my personal attempt to remain open to hearing others’ ideas, as much as it is an invitation for others to hear mine (instead of assuming I am their “opposition” and tuning me out).

2:

A good debate should be like good sex:
All parties involved must be fully informed before consenting to participate;
clear communication should be ongoing and foster trust between participants;
power imbalances should be kept in check as much as possible;
“protection” (knowledge of logical fallacies and debating etiquette) should be used to prevent the spread of “diseases” (falsehoods, cognitive distortions, etc.);
the objective should be pleasure, if not also the conception of a new consciousness;
and any participant may disengage at any time and for any reason, without being shamed for doing so.

1:

I must never challenge others in a way I am not willing to be challenged. All external questions must first be asked internally. Double standards have no place in the exchange of knowledge.

Absolute 0:

Questioning is loving, not hating.

 

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3 thoughts on “The UnMinding Process: My Guiding Principles

  1. This is a great list. under number 2 you say “power imbalances should be kept in check as much as possible” which in my experience has caused me a lot of [mental]trouble.
    i feel this is pretty loaded onto itself. Those that belief in systems of oppression vs no systems of oppression and only individual levels of empowerment. Or even if there is a shared belief in the possibility of power/power imbalance actually existing, there is disagreement about where/how it takes place.
    This is hotly contested and divisive, and obviously many people engage it as factual and base their *ideologies* on their assumptions of power. And this unfortunately is rather foundational to interactions with many people (whether a power dynamic exists and in what form), and therefore needs to be answered [internally] before deciding on what is ethical or socially acceptable to you. How do you reconcile this dilemma?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad you brought that up! I was trying to be concise with this list but couldn’t figure out how to phrase my complex feelings towards “power dynamics” any other way. Thank you for giving me space to elaborate!
      So, on principle, I reject the notion that any person’s position of privilege should mean that they talk *less* or *less often* than their opponents. I also reject the notion put forward by some justice-seekers, that people in positions of privilege are “speaking over” anyone else by virtue of having privilege. Ideas are ideas are ideas, and they are neither tainted nor legitimized by the person sharing them.
      All of that said, I do feel that sociopolitical power imbalances can be *factored in* to debates, in good faith and with discretion. For example: if we know, based on multitudes of scientific research, that men tend to interrupt women more often in conversation, a debate may want to consider having a mediator to monitor those interruptions. Or if a debate is going to take place in front of a live audience that favors one participant over another, the debaters may want to ask the audience to stay quiet, as not to unfairly influence the discussion or make the less-popular participant feel unsafe sharing their thoughts.
      In summary (and I know this isn’t perfect, but I’m trying lol), I think a good rule of thumb is to think about what makes a discussion a performance/fight (or both — a performative fight!), and avoid any of the elements that would lead to two people becoming ego-driven rather than curiosity-driven. A jeering crowd, for example, might make you feel embarrassed, which would then make you want to save face by “winning” the discussion by any means necessary rather than making a coherent point. This is one reason why college campuses tend to be awful arenas for the exchange of ideas. It’s hard to type in this little comment box so I’ll summarize my point like this: When I referred to “power dynamics” I was thinking more on an individual, human-to-human level, like being mindful not to interrupt each other or be patronizing, and to be willing to acknowledge how much of one’s opinion is informed by their social position (without necessarily throwing away an entire idea based on who shared it). But since so few good debating environments even exist, I’d love to continue exploring/discussing what a power-balanced debating arena would look like, how it could be created, etc. Please feel free to continue sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

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