Big Think Video on Humility Starring Dr. Emily Chamlee-Wright Is in Top 10 Videos of 2019

Become an intellectual explorer

Last year Dr. Emily Chamlee-Wright starred in a Big Think video on intellectual humility titled: “Become an Intellectual Explorer: Master the Art of Conversation.” Big Think has announced that the video was its #10 most popular video in 2019.

And that’s the cool thing about conversation is that it is mutual in the sense that both of us look at the same world from different vantage points, and that means that we each have something to offer the other. And that’s true whether one person is the expert or not. Right? We have the opportunity to gain in our knowledge, to learn from anyone.

– IHS President & CEO, Dr. Emily Chamlee-Wright

And I use the word sympathetic in the way that Adam Smith used the word sympathetic, which is: Am I really understanding from that other person’s point of view? That commitment to understanding the argument from the other person’s perspective.

Dr. Emily Chamlee-Wright

In the video, Dr. Chamlee-Wright explains why intellectual humility is crucial for a good conversation:

“The kind of humility I’m talking about is the kind that you can’t set aside. Because the world is an incredibly complicated place. None of us can ever have the full lock on truth. We can only see the world from a particular vantage point. And that means that our knowledge is going to have special insight because of our vantage point, but it’s also going to be limited because of our vantage point. And so that limited knowledge that we can have about the world means that we must enter into any conversation with a deep sense of humility because I need you to help me fill in my knowledge gaps. Right? And you need me.

And that’s the cool thing about conversation is that it is mutual in the sense that both of us look at the same world from different vantage points, and that means that we each have something to offer the other. And that’s true whether one person is the expert or not. Right? We have the opportunity to gain in our knowledge, to learn from anyone.

With this way of thinking about humility, anyone can be your teacher, whether it’s your professor, or whether it’s an elementary school student who’s lived on the planet in different circumstances than you lived on the planet. That elementary school student can teach you something that you can only get by talking with them. That’s that deeper level of humility.”

Dr. Emily Chamlee-Wright

Dr. Emily Chamlee-Wright

Critical listening and sympathetic listening are also crucial components of a good conversation, Dr. Chamlee-Wright says.

Adam Smith

Adam Smith portrait

“And I use the word sympathetic in the way that Adam Smith used the word sympathetic, which is: Am I really understanding from that other person’s point of view? That commitment to understanding the argument from the other person’s perspective.

Now, what sympathy in this case means is not that I feel what they feel. It’s that I’m willing to set aside, even if it’s just temporarily, that hunt for the slightest misstep in logic or reasoning. Setting that aside for a moment so that I can listen really carefully to what my conversation partner is saying, so I can understand from their perspective what their intellectual project is or why it is that they are looking at the same world I’m looking at but coming to a very, very different conclusion.”

Dr. Chamlee-Wright’s video is one in a series about civil discourse in academia. To view additional videos from the series, visit the Institute for Humane Studies blog.

See more posts: Big ThinkCivil DiscourseIdeasIHS NewsVideo 

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