intellectual autonomy

Resisting the temptation to conform one's views to the prevailing fashion, but seeking out and adhering to the truth.

a.k.a. independent thought, intellectual courage, thinking for yourself

Complementary virtues

Contrasting vices

  • conformist
  • dogmatic
  • easily-led
  • ideological

Virtues possibly in tension

How to acquire or strengthen it


Notes and links

Mentioned elsewhere

Inspirational quotes

  • “I came to the conclusion that there is an existential moment in your life when you must decide to speak for yourself; nobody else can speak for you.” – Martin Luther King Jr.
  • “Only when we forget what we were taught do we start to have real knowledge.” — Thoreau
  • “A constant flow of thoughts expressed by other people can stop and deaden your own thought and your own initiative… That is why constant learning softens your brain… Stopping the creation of your own thoughts to give room for the thoughts of others reminds me of Shakespeare’s remark about his contemporaries who sold their land in order to see other countries.” — Schopenhauer
  • “Man, whose teacher is nature, should not be a piece of wax on which an elevated image of some professor is to be carved.” —George Lichtenberg
  • “I’m constantly amazed by how easily we love ourselves above all others, yet we put more stock in the opinions of others than in our own estimation of self… How much credence we give to the opinions our peers have of us and how little to our very own!” —Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 12.4
  • “I surely will use the older path, but if I find a shorter and smoother way, I’ll blaze a trail there. The ones who pioneered these paths aren’t our masters, but our guides. Truth stands open to everyone; it hasn’t been monopolized.” —Seneca, Moral Letters 33.11