Published July 2012
1 minute read

Contradicting Yourself

To contradict yourself is to grow. In science, it is easy to change opinions because once you have new data you can throw out the old assumptions proven false. Where the opinion is tied to a judgement however, changing opinion is deemed wrong because there appears an unspoken assumption that your power of judgement may be poor if you have to go back on the choices you’ve previously made. That is, of course, nonsense, for to change your opinion based on new information or better understanding is to be honest with yourself and others, and it is the only way to grow.

If you never contradict yourself it is because you are either very wise and never make mistakes, or, more likely, that what you do say is not very important or is not precise enough to be of much value, perhaps partly due to the fear of having to retract your words at a later date should you dare to commit yourself to a strong opinion1. But clinging to a judgement for no better reason than the fear of appearing foolish or attracting the barks of idiots is to paralyze yourself and degrade your active mind to a statement of beliefs carved in stone, never to be changed again.

  1. It need not be said that the opposite of this, that is to always contradict yourself, is a sign that you either don’t care about what you’re talking about and don’t know enough about it, or you’re a hypocrite who uses words to achieve your own ends. This is not the sort of contradiction I’m talking about here.

Further Reading

Proust wrote that the true voyage of discovery is not to visit strange lands, but to possess other eyes, to behold a hundred universes that each of them beholds. Thus, in the words of Ruskin, what good books give us is not mere knowledge, but sight.

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