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An illustration of intellectual humility

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From Big Questions Online:

A lovely example of intellectual humility comes from Alice Ambrose in a report of experiences she had in the classroom of G. E. Moore, the prominent philosopher, at Cambridge University. She reports that in a series of lectures on the concept of truth Moore would sometimes criticize claims that he himself had made, say in an earlier lecture, with the same attitude one would take “to an anonymous philosopher whose mistakes called for correction.” Also, he would sometimes announce that he was going to skip to another stage in the argument because he did not know how to make the transition logically. Moore seemed to be unconcerned about protecting his status as an important professor at Cambridge because he was so deeply concerned with getting at the truth about truth. His love of knowledge swamped his concern for status, and this intellectual humility made him one of the greater philosophers of the 20th century. More.

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Hat tip: Stephanie West Allen at Brains on Purpose

2 Replies to “An illustration of intellectual humility

  1. 1
    Axel says:

    It reflects well on Alice Ambrose, as well, that she had a sufficiently inquisitive hinterland to be impressed by Moore’s intellectual humility, doesn’t it? She must have chuckled at his frankness.

    However, the other example of Subramanyan Chandrasekhar was the one that made me chuckle, as I thought of the more arrogant atheist scientists and disaffected adolescents, usually ‘a day late and a dollar short’, and having to ‘play catch-up’. Still stumped by the implications of QM as the boundary of matter and spirit!

  2. 2
    Mung says:

    I am humble enough to know when I am wrong but also smart enough to know that none of you are smart enough to know when I am wrong!

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