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We Can Usually Learn Much More From People Whose Views We Share Than From People Whose Views Contradict Our Own.


We can usually learn much more from people whose views we share than from people whose views contradict our own.

Write a response in which you discuss the extent to which you agree or disagree with the statement and explain your reasoning for the position you take. In developing and supporting your position, you should consider ways in which the statement might or might not hold true and explain how these considerations shape your position

Although it might not be always true that we could learn from people whose views are different form ours, under several conditions, the statement holds true.

There are two reasons convincing me that in some cases, we could learn more from a person whose idea contradicts ours. Firstly, an idea which is different from ours might expose to us something we misunderstand or miss in the first place. Any claim, in order to be convincing, must be bolstered by a series of arguments, evidences as well as logic deductions, where the value of a contradicting idea resides in. In comparison with consents from other people which in most cases overlap with our views or occasionally bring some additional points, a contradicting idea inevitably forces us to look at the other end of spectrum which we might neglect before. Consider the famous debate over the role of government in regulating economy. Most free-market believers extol the function of an invisible hand of the market in regulating economy and dismiss the role played by a government. Many critics point out the failure of the market, demonstrated in the several financial crises as well as the failure of the market in the regulation of public goods. Those opposing opinions and examples expose the weakness of the market in the economy regulation that a free market staunch believer might neglect.

Secondly, when our ideas are challenged by those contradicting ones, we are forced to defend our ideas and attack the contradicting idea. When we defend our ideas, we are compelled to think twice about our original argument. We have to find more evidences to defend our idea. When we attack different ideas, we are invited to scrutinize their logic deductions, validities of their evidence as well as coherence of their augment. Such process prevents us from passively accepting one idea, but helps us to both critically and independently think. Just take the debate over the nature of light as an example. This debate lasted for more than 500 years. On both sides, there were the brightest minds of those times. Both sides were challenged by the opposing side, tried to do more experiments to validate their original claims and questioned the other side's reasoning in order to find the loopholes. The human’s understanding on the nature of the light was deepened during this debate. An opposing example involves human understanding on the status of the Earth in our universe. Over a long stretch of history, almost all westerners passively bought the idea of geocentricism supported by the Church. Science developed slowly under the domination of this flawed belief. If an opposing idea had appeared earlier, it would possibly have encouraged more people to think by themselves and to find evidence to challenge this flawed notion.

However, not in all circumstances, we could learn more from a contradicting idea. One important condition is that we should take an opposing idea seriously and study it. If a stubborn person is not even willing to analyze the opposing idea with an open mind and simply caricature the opposing idea as some nonsenses without any pondering, he or she certainly will learn nothing. Just think why the Church took almost 500 years to acknowledge that the geocentricism is a wrong notion in spite that a multitude of evidences exist and support what scientists claimed. Instead of debating with those scientists, the church at that time simply burned those people at stake, or tabbed them as heretics. Certainly, with this attitude, it was impossible for the religious leaders of those eras to acknowledge the value of the opposing ideas.

Moreover, in order to learn from an opposing idea, both sides should at least share some common presumptions or methods in their studies. Without sharing certain common grounds, it would not even possible to organize a meaningful debate. For example, a misogynist will not learn much from a feminist since their basic beliefs on the roles played by women are different. However, a sincere debate between two scientists who hold different ideas would reveal much more insightful ideas since both parts agree upon the methodology to be used to do study and to validate results.

To sum up, it is certainly true that under some conditions, we could learn more from people who hold different ideas. In order to do that, we need to have a open mind as well as share some common ground with our opponents.

Submitted by: qcao


Sorry, I don't know that I should only submit one essay every day. You can flag this essay if you will. Then I send it one per day.

Thx a lot for your help. Your advice is very helpful and inspiring
August,16 2012

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