Listen Charitably

In the course of my studies in philosophy, I learned to ‘listen charitably.’  This means to listen openly and to try to find the most compelling form of the argument that someone is offering you, especially one your first impulse  is to reject.  Try to hear the best form of what someone is saying to you, the most convincing phrasing of their argument.   When you make this into a habit, your experience of absolutely everything you encounter becomes richer.

Charitable listening does not mean we cannot criticize anything; in fact, it is the first step of fair criticism.  Before we can accurately criticize something, we need to be  able to reconstruct it in the best possible way you can formulate it.  Otherwise, we’re just shooting arrows at straw men.

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