Habits of thinking that respect the truth and are cautious of temptations to believe things for poor reasons.

a.k.a. reason, devotion to the truth, good faith reasoning

Complementary virtues

  • most of the intellectual virtues
  • honesty
  • intellectual humility
  • careful evaluation of evidence: science / induction / probability / inference / understanding selection biases / guarding against deceptive use of statistics / deduction / logic

Contrasting vices

  • bad faith
  • irrationality
  • motivated reasoning
  • wishful thinking

Virtues possibly in tension

How to acquire or strengthen it

Denial of uncomfortable facts can be a coping strategy for dealing with stress. If you (over-)use that strategy, you may want to try strengthening other coping strategies so you can reduce your reliance on denial.

Notes and links

Mentioned elsewhere

Inspirational quotes

  • Karl Jaspers: “an aim of philosophy is patiently and unremittingly to sustain the vigilance of reason in the presence of failure and in the presence of that which seems alien to it.” (Way to Wisdom)
  • “Truly a Thinking Man is the worst enemy the Prince of Darkness can have; every time such a one announces himself, I doubt not, there runs a shudder through the Nether Empire; and new Emissaries are trained, with new tactics, to, if possible, entrap him, and hoodwink and handcuff him.” ―Thomas Carlyle (Sartor Resartus)
  • “…the majority of men do not think in order to know the truth, but in order to assure themselves that the life which they lead, and which is agreeable and habitual to them, is the one which coincides with the truth.” ―Tolstoy
  • “Truth remains truth even if it hurts.” ―Euripides
  • “In all debates, let truth be thy aim; not victory, or an unjust interest: and endeavor to gain, rather than to expose, thy antagonist.” ―William Penn
  • The way is not to uphold falsehood consciously in anything. Where one sees the beginning of falsehood — each in his own way — he will not cross the line into its gangrenous territory. Having made this resolve, we would perhaps be astounded to see how suddenly falsehood dies, so that what lies behind stands naked before the world.” -Alexander Solzhenitsyn (“Not to live by falsehood” a.k.a. “Live Not By Lies!”)
  • “So convenient a thing to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for every thing one has a mind to do.” ―Benjamin Franklin
  • “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
  • “He who knows the truth is not equal to him who loves it, and he who loves it is not equal to him who delights in it.” (Analects of Confucius, VI.XVIII)