Mike Renzulli

More About: Art

The Art of Thought

While attending a training class at my job the other day, one classmate brought up the infamous blue net displayed in downtown Phoenix in a discussion that took place about the Phoenix art displays.
Upon my coworker finishing his comments (which I recall as being mostly positive), I remarked that I did not like the downtown art displays (including the net). Not only is the program expensive, but the overall theme of the art pieces is meaningless and treats art as intrinsic. It is the appreciation of art for art's sake.
One of my teachers expressed surprise. She disclosed that she had a degree in art from a university in California and stated that art is subjective and not objective. She said that all art should be presented openly and equally and claimed that just because all art forms are shown doesn't mean people have to agree with them. In her view, people can decide for themselves which art they like and which they do not.
Aside from my disagreeing with her and that it is wrong for people to pay for art they disagree with via the force of taxation, her point has a serious logical flaw. In terms of presenting all forms of art equally, the result is not only art but this logic is also applied all ideas, values, and behaviors (no matter how unrealistic or dangerous) are considered worthy of contemplation.
Ultimately, according to my teacher's standpoint, objectivity of any kind is rejected when determining which ideas are contradictory or invalid in which one cannot or should not determine which ideas, art, literature, philosophies, etc. are right or wrong.
The idea of being open minded is rooted in egalitarianism. It is also the denial that there is any absolute knowledge which is also known as skepticism. Though I do not think it is indicative of my instructor, however, many proponents of being open to or tolerant of other ideas or entertainment are not the high-minded crusaders for truth and justice they make themselves out to be. Rather, their ultimate goal or end result will be to refute someone making claims based on knowledge that they disagree with or hinder provable statements.
What the open mind argument really is is nothing more than a form of mental laziness. It is used by skeptics to undercut the certainty of conclusions by others based on fact so they do not have to justify their beliefs or attempt to refute objective knowledge.
Regardless if any evidence is lacking to support a certain idea, skeptics say, one should be open to it. They go on to assert that passing any judgement contrary to or disagreeing with perceived or popular ideas one is open to being accused of being judgmental, dogmatic, demagogic, or an ideologue.
The worst part about it, the tactics skeptics use against those whom they dislike or disagree with are often successful. As a result, people are afraid to or will not pass judgement on things they consider wrong for fear of being labeled close minded. This, in turn, can affect a person's ability to think and reason for themselves.
The more dissent or disagreement is hindered, the less likely someone will be willing to speak out and, consequently, continue to believe that dissenting or disagreeing isn't worth their time and effort. Something skeptics obviously hope for unless they are the ones doing the thinking not only for themselves for but for others too.
Unfortunately, this kind of activity is occuring in the one place you would least expect it: college and university campuses. In the film Indoctrinate U, filmmaker Evan Coyne Maloney interviews students and even faculty who have their opinons or intellectual freedom hindered by the collective mindset of students and members of academia.
Maloney gives specific examples of the use of institutional mechanisms, like speech codes, which are used by academia to punish students who express political views that are deemed unpopular. Even faculty who disagree with university policies are shown in the movie and can have their academic freedom and jobs jeopardized too.
One who subscribes to objectivity will know or discover through the useage of their reason and senses which ideas are contradictory, and which are not. He or she will examine each concept throughly and critically utilizing the facts involved. After accumulating all of the facts, they will then make a decision based on which ideas correspond to reality.
A true open mind is someone who is open to all facts and uses logic in order to connect them. The usage of reason is a person's primary means of thought and survival and should be closed to anything else that is the opposite of or hostile to critical thought such as faith, supernaturalism, tradition, or subjectivism.
The next time someone tells you that you should keep an open mind, politely tell them no thanks. Follow up by saying that you prefer an active and objective one and do not be intimidated by others who would discourage you from having your own ideas much less thinking for yourself.

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