I’ve become laid-back in my old age. I think I’ve also become more receptive to truth. In my quest to treat and think about schizophrenia, for example, I’ve turned in my old, piercing, rigorous mind and exchanged it for a more humble yet adventurous attitude.
In the world of academia, we often find disparate conversations going on. We find scholars who are unable to communicate with non-academics–but, worse, we find academics unable to communicate with each other.
Since I’ve always taken an interdisciplinary approach, I have tried my best to keep up with conversations in many areas of study. Interdisciplinary work is difficult. One reason why is because one has to become a translator of academic jargon–from psychology to philosophy–and then, for me, a translator from academic jargon into ordinary language.
I do my best, as any translator does, but I may miss the tiny nuances when I translate into ordinary language.
These piercing minds–which I used to possess–give us these conversations. It’s an attitude toward truth that most scholars have which constructs towers of babble upwards towards to heavens.
As I mentioned previously, I’ve taken a different approach to truth these days. I’m fond of pragmatism–in a nutshell, what is true is what works. Pragmatism is a world-centered approach. It isn’t looking for some abstract truth-in-the-sky. It is looking for truth in the world.
But is there a specific attitude one must have in order to be receptive to truth? I think there may be. One must, first of all, be an adventurous explorer, willing to try new things. In my quest for treating schizophrenia, for instance, I have had to be open to trying new medications, seeing if they work, and trying new therapies. I even prayed and undertook an exploration of Christianity because Christian psychology can re-structure cognitive processes. My exploration and willingness to try new things will be proven to work for me if my symptoms diminish over the long term.
In addition to being an explorer, one must have the attitude of a shred of skepticism, too. I know that treatments that may work for me may not work for everyone. I have to discuss progress with other people with mental illness and explore large-scale studies to see whether my treatments work for others.
Notice I focus on what works for me. Whatever works is what is true. Truth is what happens to an idea I may have. My idea becomes true just when it works.
I don’t think I need to have the piercing mind, engaged in the harsh minutia of conversations in academia in order to find truth. I just need the right attitude and the ability to explore.