a commonplace book
1. Criticize from within (“In other words, criticize the other—whether person, group, or society—on the basis of something you have in common.”)
2. Look for goods in conflict (“Some conflicts are entirely about good versus evil or right versus wrong, but many (probably most) are more about good versus good or right versus right. Each side, at least in part, is likely to be defending a goal or value that both recognize as worthy.”
3. Count higher than two (“Of all the mental habits that encourage polarization, the most dangerous is probably binary thinking—the tendency to divide everything into two mutually antagonistic categories.”)
4. Doubt (“Doubt often supports true convictions based on realistic foundations, just as doubtlessness is nearly always an intellectual disability, a form of blindness.”
5. Specify (Avoid generalizations with a) “a persistent skepticism about categories,” b) a consideration of “each issue separately and on its own terms, as opposed to assuming the validity of a governing ideological framework,” c) a privileging of the specific assertion over the generalization, and d) a reliance on inductive reasoning.)
David Blankenhorn, “The Seven Habits of Highly Depolarizing People,” The American Interest, Feb. 2016
Found these to be pretty great, and especially difficult to do. How to practice these? I especially find the first one to be difficult these days, as it’s always easier to distance oneself from the other’s premises, rather than associate with them, even when that’s in fact the case.
Four is hard as well. Oh, so hard.