intellectual humility

understanding the limits of your knowledge and reasoning, and loving the truth more than your own beliefs

Complementary virtues

Contrasting vices

  • arrogance
  • close-mindedness
  • fanaticism
  • being a know-it-all
  • prejudice
  • stubbornness

Virtues possibly in tension

How to acquire or strengthen it

  • “When you realize someone you disagreed with in the past was actually right, email them and let them know (even if the disagreement was months / years ago). Benefits: (1) It’s nice for them to hear it (2) It makes the update stickier for you” – Julia Galef

Notes and links

Mentioned elsewhere


Inspirational quotes

  • “A strategy for thinking clearly: Rather than trying to be right, assume you are wrong and try to be less wrong. Trying to be right has a tendency to devolve into protecting your beliefs. Trying to be less wrong has a tendency to prompt more questions and intellectual humility.” — James Clear
  • “When the Master first entered the Grand Temple he asked about everything, whereupon some one remarked: ‘Who says the sone of the man of Tsou knows the correct forms? On entering the Grand Temple he asks about everything.’ The Master hearing of it remarked: ‘This too is correct form.’” (Analects of Confucius, III.XV)
  • “The nobler type of man is broad-minded and not prejudiced. The inferior man is prejudiced and not broad-minded.” (Analects of Confucius, II.XIV)
  • “If you desire improvement from others, you should not at the same time express yourself fixed in your present opinions; modest and sensible men who do not love disputation will leave you undisturbed in the possession of your errors.” ―Benjamin Franklin
  • “Clever people study in order to know more. Undeserving people study to be more known.” ―"Eastern Wisdom" (attributed by Tolstoy)
  • “In a joint philosophical investigation he who is defeated comes out ahead in so far as he has learned something new.” (from the Vatican collection of Epicurean sayings)
  • “It is impossible for a person to begin to learn what he thinks he already knows.” —Epictetus (Discourses 2.17.1)