I mentioned yesterday that my older brother Michael contributed to my observant, wait-and-see approach to my surroundings and interactions. I said that my approach allowed me to be “less prone to jump to a conclusion and more open learning to something unexpected.”
I must clarify my statement that I am less prone to jump to a conclusion. I actually jump to conclusions all the time. A better description would be, I slide to a conclusion, adjusting my first jump based on my observations. I don’t think anyone comes to a situation with a ‘blank slate’. Only a newborn “was born yesterday,” as the saying goes.
I am interested in learning more about states of mind, so Karl Jaspers’ General Psychopathology, was recommended to me. While I was slogging through the introduction, I came across two words that seemed particularly relevant: Prejudice and Presupposition.
“Prejudices (that are false) [emphasis in original] are rigid, circumscribed presuppositions which are wrongly taken as absolutes. They are hardly realized by those who hold them; they do not reach consciousness and when clarified can be dissolved. Presuppositions (that are true) [emphasis in original] are rooted in the investigator himself and are the ground of his ability to see and understand. Once elucidated, they will be well and truly grasped.”
Jaspers goes on to say:
“It is possible to partake in the inner life of another person through a tentative exchange of roles; a certain dramatic play, as it were, which nevertheless is no play but real. There is a natural way of empathic listening to others in which we simultaneously keep touch with ourselves.”
Although Jaspers’ book was meant for psychopathologists, I believe that his insights are useful for everyone.