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Thread: Are you a Free Thinker?

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    Are you a Free Thinker?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freethought

    Freethought (or free thought)[1] is an epistemological viewpoint which holds that positions regarding truth should be formed only on the basis of logic, reason, and empiricism, rather than authority, tradition, revelation, or dogma. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a freethinker is "a person who forms their own ideas and opinions rather than accepting those of other people, especially in religious teaching." In some contemporary thought in particular, freethought is strongly tied with rejection of traditional social or religious belief systems.[1][2] The cognitive application of freethought is known as "freethinking", and practitioners of freethought are known as "freethinkers".[1] Modern freethinkers consider freethought as a natural freedom of all negative and illusive thoughts acquired from the society.[3]
    The term first came into use in the 17th century in order to indicate people who inquired into the basis of traditional religious beliefs. In practice, freethinking is most closely linked with secularism, atheism, agnosticism, anti-clericalism, and religious critique. The Oxford English Dictionary defines freethinking as, "The free exercise of reason in matters of religious belief, unrestrained by deference to authority; the adoption of the principles of a free-thinker." Freethinkers hold that knowledge should be grounded in facts, scientific inquiry, and logic. The skeptical application of science implies freedom from the intellectually limiting effects of confirmation bias, cognitive bias, conventional wisdom, popular culture, prejudice, or sectarianism.[4]

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    In the 18th and 19th century, many thinkers regarded as freethinkers were deists, arguing that the nature of God can only be known from a study of nature rather than from religious revelation. In the 18th century, "deism" was as much of a 'dirty word' as "atheism", and deists were often stigmatized as either atheists or at least as freethinkers by their Christian opponents.[12][13] Deists today regard themselves as freethinkers, but are now arguably less prominent in the freethought movement than atheists.
    Characteristics[edit]
    Among freethinkers, for a notion to be considered true it must be testable, verifiable, and logical. Many freethinkers tend to be humanists, who base morality on human needs and would find meaning in human compassion, social progress, art, personal happiness, love, and the furtherance of knowledge. Generally, freethinkers like to think for themselves, tend to be skeptical, respect critical thinking and reason, remain open to new concepts, and are sometimes proud of their own individuality. They would determine truth for themselves – based upon knowledge they gain, answers they receive, experiences they have and the balance they thus acquire. Freethinkers reject conformity for the sake of conformity, whereby they create their own beliefs by considering the way the world around them works and would possess the intellectual integrity and courage to think outside of accepted norms, which may or may not lead them to believe in some higher power.[14]

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    I consider it a bit of an archaic word, but yes, sure.

    Freethought seems to me to be more based on method ("... holds that positions regarding truth should be formed only on the basis of logic, reason, and empiricism, rather than authority, tradition, revelation, or dogma") rather than the particular beliefs, as evidenced that many of the historical freethinkers were deists.

    Many of the historical freethinkers, like Thomas Paine, were brilliant people who contributed to the progress of humanity.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    a freethinker is "a person who forms their own ideas and opinions rather than accepting those of other people, especially in religious teaching." In some contemporary thought in particular, freethought is strongly tied with rejection of traditional social or religious belief systems.[1][2] The cognitive application of freethought is known as "freethinking", and practitioners of freethought are known as "freethinkers".[1] Modern freethinkers consider freethought as a natural freedom of all negative and illusive thoughts acquired from the society.[3]
    The Oxford dictionary should tack on 'blindly' to the accepting of opinions of other people. If we have to form our opinions from scratch, very few people would make the cut. And I believe even many who consider themselves freethinkers often hold unchallenged assumptions. It's just that those assumptions run so deep within their identity that they're considered definite truths.

    It's fascinating to me. I can count so many times in the past that I was cock-sure of some thing or another, but as I continue seeking knowledge it's not uncommon for those walls to come down. The problem is that people's lives weren't built to sit around reading book after book, so we're forced to make our best guess with what we know.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    I have sympathy for the basic ideas of free thought as originally espoused, but would not consider myself a "freethinker", as that label has become conflated with religious positions I see no reason to hold, and also because it seems rather insulting in terms of what it implies about the presumed intellect of anyone who is not in the group.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    I have sympathy for the basic ideas of free thought as originally espoused, but would not consider myself a "freethinker", as that label has become conflated with religious positions I see no reason to hold, and also because it seems rather insulting in terms of what it implies about the presumed intellect of anyone who is not in the group.
    That's a good point, and also why I've been hesitant to label myself with anything that's associated with religion. In reality I'm likely something of an agnostic-atheist, but I have too much respect for the motivation behind religious thought to define myself as something diametrically opposed to it.

    Rather than 'free-thinker' which is highly subjective, I'd prefer something like 'knowledge-seeker' or 'truth-seeker'. I don't think I've reached a state of autonomy where I'm free from bias or authority, but am instead in a constant state of change via acquiring new knowledge.

    And yea, I also think there can be a tendency to look down on the unenlightened ones.

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    Hardly archaic. Our political system intertwined with religion is hopelessly mired in theism and ideological extremes and divides.

    The health care debate is the antithesis of free thinking.

    It arose as an answer to rigid religious ideology and how it was used in the world. We have the same problem today.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    I have sympathy for the basic ideas of free thought as originally espoused, but would not consider myself a "freethinker", as that label has become conflated with religious positions I see no reason to hold, and also because it seems rather insulting in terms of what it implies about the presumed intellect of anyone who is not in the group.
    You do not appear to be able to articulate your beliefs let alone critically evaluate them.

    As you yourself said, you have no fixed ideology yet identify as Pagan Christian.

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    Sapere aude Politesse's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by steve_bank View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Politesse View Post
    I have sympathy for the basic ideas of free thought as originally espoused, but would not consider myself a "freethinker", as that label has become conflated with religious positions I see no reason to hold, and also because it seems rather insulting in terms of what it implies about the presumed intellect of anyone who is not in the group.
    You do not appear to be able to articulate your beliefs let alone critically evaluate them.

    As you yourself said, you have no fixed ideology yet identify as Pagan Christian.
    I don't see what's so confusing about that...

    Or why having a "fixed ideology" would somehow make me a freer thinker...

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    Words and phrases have a way of getting hijacked. Once they're hijacked they can be very easily misunderstood by another listener who's response has now been conditioned. If I consider myself a person who observes and thinks freely, even if a former self is the only yardstick, then there is nothing wrong with that label. It is, after all, just a label, and humans label absolutely everything. Even the word "label" is a label.

    If you are not an overly emotional person and you are a good observer, most likely you are indeed a free thinker.

    Come to think of it though, maybe "free observer" is the better label.

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