Even more right

If you think being right is a matter of avoiding being wrong, you’ll neglect a more important and more interesting challenge: trying to be even more right than you already are.

The deepest religious conversions do not have the structure of mere reversal, negation or inversion — they change the terms such that one’s old understandings are seen as simply missing the mark, being beside the point. It is less, “I was wrong, but now I’m right,” and more “I wasn’t right enough, and now I’ve become more right.”

Understandings, by the way, should not be confused with the doctrines we affirm as true. The strongest and least noticed effect of an understanding is what we see when we look and what questions arise from what we see, and these are limited by what questions we know how to ask.

If we use the optical metaphor of a perspective, the lines of inquiry are the perspectival grid that draw our eyes to a vanishing point on a horizon, suggested in the general thrust of our questions, defined by our standpoint but appearing to belong to the scene itself. Only movement around the scene reveals the relationship between seer, seen and scene.

I’m no fan of Plato, but:

Behold! human beings living in a underground den, which has a mouth open towards the light and reaching all along the den; here they have been from their childhood, and have their legs and necks chained so that they cannot move, and can only see before them, being prevented by the chains from turning round their heads.

Peripatetic philosophy entails actively getting up and seeing from many angles.

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