Ten Commandments of Critical Thinking and Democratic Decency

[…] Perhaps the essence of the Liberal outlook could be summed up in a new decalogue […]. The Ten Commandments that, as a teacher, I should wish to promulgate, might be set forth as follows:

1 – Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.

2 – Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.

3 – Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.

4 – When you meet with opposition, even if it should be from your husband or your children, endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.

5 – Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.

6 – Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress you.

7 – Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.

8 – Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.

9 – Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to conceal it.

10 – Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that it is happiness.


[F.O. – from Bertrand Russell,
The Best Answer To Fanaticism: Liberalism,
in The New York Times (December 16, 1951)]
Featured image: Jean-Michel Basquiat,
Obnoxious Liberals (1982)

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