Why Humility is The Key Function of Learning and Limitless Knowledge
September 15, 2016
Why be humble? After all, Aristotle said: ‘All men by nature desire to know.’ Intellectual humility is a particular instance of humility, since you can be down-to-earth about most things and still ignore your mental limitations. Intellectual humility means recognising that we don’t know everything – and what we do know, we shouldn’t use to our advantage. Instead, we should acknowledge that we’re probably biased in our belief about just how much we understand, and seek out the sources of wisdom that we lack.
The internet and digital media have created the impression of limitless knowledge at our fingertips...they have opened up a space that ignorance can fill.
Intellectual humility relies on the ability to prefer truth over social status. It is marked primarily by a commitment to seeking answers, and a willingness to accept new ideas – even if they contradict our views...
At the other end of the scale lies intellectual arrogance – the evil twin of overconfidence. Such arrogance almost always stems from the egocentric bias – the tendency to overestimate our own virtue or importance, ignoring the role of chance or the influence of other people’s actions on our lives...
In the realm of science, if necessity is the mother of invention, then humility is its father. Scientists must be willing to abandon their theories in favour of new, more accurate explanations in order to keep up with constant innovation.
Albert Einstein knew as much when he reportedly said that ‘information is not knowledge’... ‘Without humility, you are unable to learn,’ he notes.