The high-minded man must care more…

The high-minded man must care more for the truth than for what people think. – Aristotle

What does that mean?
Once again, we have a translation from ancient Greek that I believe needs a little more help in the translation. At thefreedictionary.com, high-minded is defined as “Characterized by elevated ideals or conduct; noble.” It’s an old fashioned word that puts this translation back before WWII, possibly before the turn of the century.

Re-wording, it comes out as “The person with high standards of ethics, ideals and conduct must care more for the truth than what people think.” I am tempted to add to the end of that “about them,” but the quote should probably be looked at both with and without that additional ending.

Why is truth important?
I believe that without truth, communication is impossible. Without truth, actions lose their meanings. Without truth, values become worthless.

Truth is the underpinning of society, as most of us know it. How many of you have to wonder, at each word, if it is true or a lie? It’s not a pretty place to be. The stress is immense, especially when you don’t understand what reason there is for the lies.

While we all may stray from the truth from time to time, hopefully it’s been in the “little white lies” category. Things like the answer to the classic death-trap – I mean question : “Does this dress make me look fat?”

Where can I apply this in my life?
At the top, I debated if I should end the saying with “…think about them.” instead of just “…think.” so in the next two paragraphs, I take a brief look at how they differ.

For the “…think about them.” version : Sometimes, people think less of others when they follow a path that isn’t popular. This would be social pressure to change how you think. For this, we are talking about people trying to get you to change how you think in order to get you to change your ethics, ideals or conduct. Here there is no intellectual debate, just interpersonal pressure (name calling, withholding friendship, etc) to force a non-intellectual change.

For the “…think.” version : Some people go along with the crowd. Universities and colleges are really bad about that, despite proclaiming that all ideas are welcomed and shared. In these situations (sometimes called group-think), people can’t understand how you have come to a conclusion different from theirs. These tend to be polarizing issues, and have included everything from abortion to global warming. Here, there is still intellectual debate and while neither side may change their mind, the point is to have the debate.

The nature of the pressure (interpersonal vs intellectual) aside, it still comes down to an attempt to get you to change your ethics, ideals and conduct. In short, they are attempting to get you to redefine your truth, your beliefs. If you believe that you are correct and value the truth as you know it, you must stand firm. You must care more for the truth than for what others think, or think about you.

It is right and proper to listen to intellectual arguments, to compare them to what you know, to investigate their validity and add it to your tool box (either as something to easily discredit, or a potential new facet of truth to be integrated into your world view). But you must be careful and not be easily swayed by the opinions of others, or by alleged facts used to buttress an opposing view.

If you are not careful, you will end up more a wind-sock than a person of high standards. Truth is hard to perceive until you have all the facts. The trick is determining when you have enough facts to determine what is true and what is not. This is why an open mind is necessary. You must maintain you high standards of ethics, ideals and conduct, but you must allow for the possibility, however small, that you may need to adjust them as more of the truth is revealed to you.

The truth, as you understand it, should be explained to others, and defended when challenged. This must be done with the highest of standards and be based on well researched facts. If those holding differing views truly have open minds, you should be able to convince them to look more closely at what they have accepted as truth as well as what you have accepted as truth.

You will never win an argument by telling someone something. You must help them to convince themselves that you are right. Ask them to do some research and offer to review their allegations and plan to meet again to discuss the results of the research. When you win this way, you have converted them not with your mighty skills, but by allowing them to reach the same conclusion as you did. In this manner, they will be able to defend the truth as you did, instead of just parroting what they remember of what you said.

From: Twitter, @gideonking
confirmed at : http://www.iwise.com/VIjbo
Photo by Keith Allison – This was a fun photo to pick. Umpires are the definition of truth, as they observed it, on the ball field. They don’t back down. They hold to what they believe to be the truth. Often (perhaps more often than not) they are reviled by the players and fans alike. They don’t let others sway them. To me, that’s what this saying is all about.

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