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Entertaining Possibilities Without Prejudice

There’s always another way to look at things.

This observation doesn’t mean, however, that the conventional and traditional ways are wrongheaded, silly, and meaningless.

An alternative isn’t always the same as an antithesis.

Critical thinking is the ability to entertain new possibilities without arbitrarily closing our minds to what remains useful in our previously held perspectives.

The other way doesn’t become the opposite of the older way until we treat it as if it’s the only way.

How to Build a Legacy

One constructive deed at a time. One creative act at a time. And so a legacy is built.

It’s always in this order. The work comes first and the glorious narrative of the creative genius, if it ever comes at all, is woven and spun around the world’s reaction to the work.

Artists aren’t made by pursuing “artistry.” They’re too involved with less glamorous things like action, discipline, problem-solving, and failure.

Artists don’t make history. Artists make art. Historians make history. And whenever historians decide to include artists in their stories, they pick the ones who actually got around to making art.

If you want a legacy, do stuff!

Forget about being creative. Forget about being an artist.

Revolutions aren’t ignited by our states of being; they’re ignited by our acts of creation.

The Art of Loving Art

When I was younger, I made up my mind that I would fight for my right to make art. I never allowed anyone to talk me out of following my creative interests. I was driven by the idea that if I persisted long enough, I would eventually create something so marvelous that my sacrifices and sufferings would ultimately be deemed worthwhile.

Today I am still determined to fight for my right to make art, but I am driven by a different conviction: the version of me that takes creative risks is superior in every way to the version of me that hides behind fear. With each attempt to alter my world, I am transformed into a being who possesses a deeper understanding of self, a keener perception of beauty, a richer appreciation for life’s mysteries, and a more heartfelt connection to humanity.

I initially loved art because I believed it would make me significant. Now I love it because it has made me more fully human. It’s made me come alive in ways I never imagined.

Whether I succeed or fail at meeting the expectations I set for myself during childhood, I will never retire from the art of creating space in my life for art.

Art is no longer an ambition. It’s a calling. It’s a spiritual practice. It is my Sadhana. It is the path to my True Self.

Philosophy With Courtesy

It’s difficult to have a positive influence on people if we base our discussions with them on the premise that they’re just a bunch of lowly simpletons who need to be saved by our enlightened wisdom.

If we want others to take our ideas seriously, we have to start by taking their sincerity seriously.

As illogical and whimsical as people sometimes seem to be, they are only doing what makes sense to themselves relative to what they know.

The purpose of sharing information and spreading truth, as I see it, isn’t so we can bask in the glory of our superior intelligence. It’s so we can participate in the privilege and pleasure of growing, learning, and exploring the wonders of life together.

The less we patronize, the better we philosophize.

The Presumption of Sincerity

The Presumption of Innocence is understood as the practice of legally assuming that a party is innocent until they are proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt.

This presumption is not free of risk. Each time we act on it, we take the chance of allowing guilty people to walk free.

We make this presumption, however, because of its pragmatic value.

If we gave ourselves the right to arbitrarily condemn others as guilty, everyone would be a criminal.

There’s a similar practice that I employ when engaging others in philosophical dialogue or debate.

I call it “The Presumption of Sincerity.”

The Presumption of Sincerity is the practice of addressing people’s arguments and ideas as if they are a sincere expression of what those people actually believe (until one has evidence to the contrary).

This presumption is not free of risk. Each time we act on it, we risk wasting our time conversing with people who are only interested in fruitless quarreling.

I make this presumption, however, because of its pragmatic value.

If I gave myself the luxury of arbitrarily attributing ulterior motives to anyone who expressed disagreement with me, the chances that either of us would learn anything useful from one another would be minimal.

Statements like “You know that I’m right” or “You’re just being stubborn” or “You’re deliberately avoiding the issue” evince an attitude of distrust towards one’s partner in dialogue.

If we find ourselves making these sorts of accusations, perhaps we should consider terminating the discussion or evaluating our assumptions.

If we believe people are being sincere, we should speak to them as if they’re being sincere.

If we don’t believe people are being sincere, we should ask ourselves why we insist on arguing with them at all.

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