Intellectual Maturity? | INFJ Forum

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Discussion in 'Relationships and Sociology' started by Hostarius, Oct 3, 2018.

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  1. Hostarius

    Hostarius Permanent Fixture

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    OK, so I've just started a PhD in history, and getting to know the other students on my intake; we've socialised three times now, mainly with two others - a girl (26) and a guy (27).

    However, I'm actually getting pretty exasperated by the way they have discussions, or rather, the way they take my points.

    In essence, it seems like they can't fully engage with difficult ideas in what I would describe as a properly intellectual way - that is, considering some ideas as 'positions', not taking things personally, and engaging with these positions on logical grounds.

    For instance, tonight we were talking about the work of some evolutionary biologists in the twentieth century who concluded that the basis of empathy was gene selection - individuals therefore feel more empathetic towards others who resemble themselves (genetically, ethnically, &c.), and the implications this had for the nation state, including the history of the twentieth century as one of massive ethnic disaggregation.

    The guy got more and more uncomfortable until he eventually said he had to go, and that was the end of the evening.

    I was really really surprised in a bemused way that they seemed to be taking this personally and it made them uncomfortable, as if they had sacred cows; things that ought not to be discussed.

    Now, maybe I'm used to discussing things with more mature people, since this kind of discussion is usually enjoyable and engaging, and we come up with interesting 'solutions' and definitions of ethics, &c., but I got the sense that they didn't know how to properly debate.

    Anyway, what do you think of this? It's got me annoyed.

    Am I being antisocial bringing this challenging stuff up?


    Are they intellectually immature?

    What? Your thoughts? Experiences?
     
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  2. Pin

    Pin Commander-in Chief / Ren's Counterpart

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    I would prioritize getting my PhD.

    Yeah.

    Yeah.

    Historical pattern: those frequently revered contemporarily as intellectuals largely work to preserve the status-quo.

     
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  3. Wyote

    Wyote Moody Magician
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    Really?

    Have you made this point clear, and made attempts to reiterate that this is what is occurring for the discussions?
    Often people will read another person as engaging in sympathies since that is the natural tendency for most humans.
    It is far more difficult for anyone to entirely divorce their feelings from their statements. It's not a natural form of expression to do so.
    They may be misinterpreting intellectual enthusiasm with cognitive affinity. Easy mistake.
    It's on you to help guide people through your thoughts and different modes.

    If you've got all your bases covered in this way, then it is a discomfort they will need to learn to accept and get over.
    I've heard younger people are getting more and more sensitive and ill equipped at handling difficult subject matter.
    Something to do with being online all the time and not interacting face to face enough in the formative years.
    There's no hope for the future. RIP.
     
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  4. Gaze

    Gaze What am I mixing? Well . . .
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    Maybe it's a matter of sensitivity. Their concern is not simply for intellectual engagement but maybe they believe discussions should also be balanced with considerations for how views affect the listener. What you may consider "logical" or reasonable, they may consider insensitive based on how it is said (language) and how it is said (delivery). Instead of judging, maybe take some time to listen to their perspective and consider why they view things as they do, and share why they may not see things in the same way. By looking at their view as just wrong, you won't learn anything or grow in your own development as an intellectual. True intellectuals don't come into conversations with singular perspective of the world and how people "should" view things, you won't learn anything. What is simple and sound logic to you maybe offensive to someone else. Matter of perspective. Conversation is a dynamic and is not determined by one person in the convo. You have to consider your audience. Sounds like you have very different backgrounds or experiences and maybe from different educational backgrounds or generations, although I don't know your age group. In any case, their job is not to live up to your intellectual ideals. Even if they're not at the same intellectual level as you, you can't make them see things your way if you're not willing to give a little. Maybe it's a simple case of balancing logic with feeling. Logic alone does not a good argument make. Maybe their perspective is simply this - just because something is logical doesn't make it right or good, and maybe for them messaging and morality is just as important a consideration as logical reasoning. Also, your approach to conversations may focus so much on IQ that you're forgetting or ignoring the value, relevance, and significance of demonstrating EQ.
     
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  5. OP
    Hostarius

    Hostarius Permanent Fixture

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    Yeah I thought I made it quite clear, based on the context of the discussion, things that were said previously (e.g. They know that I've been the recipient of racism, &c.) and me outright stating that this was not my personal position. It was more like they got strangely anxious about it (more the guy tbh).

    And yes I was surprised - maybe I've been over-privileged with the company I keep.
     
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  6. OP
    Hostarius

    Hostarius Permanent Fixture

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    Nah, I wasn't proselytising. I put forward a viewpoint of someone else (the evolutionary biologists) for them to consider. I think it's really tragic if you have nothing to say in opposition to the strongest arguments of your political opponents.

    And let me be clear, we were all broadly of the same political mindset.
     
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  7. Wyote

    Wyote Moody Magician
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    It's not something most people are capable of just switching on and off. And to @Gaze 's point, just because something is logical or factual, does not make it inherently correct, truthful, or just.
     
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  8. OP
    Hostarius

    Hostarius Permanent Fixture

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    Of course, which is why I think that the left needs to divorce itself from certain scientific positions. The relative levels of intelligence of the sexes/races/whatever should be of no political importance whatsoever, for instance. We should not found our ethical positions on empirical findings, which may change.
     
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  9. OP
    Hostarius

    Hostarius Permanent Fixture

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    It would be so cool if the method of Socratic dialogue was taught in schools...
     
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  10. Peppermint

    Peppermint Well-known member

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    Evolutionary biology is a bit of a dicey subject. Lots of political baggage and plenty of people without any real knowledge on genetics and evolution have strong opinions about it. Yes, there are some people who are seemingly very uncomfortable talking about this subject because they don't want to be associated with unsavory things like the Nazis, eugenics, racial (pseudo)science, especially in today's polarized political climate.

    Yes, they could be unable to engage with a certain subject in an unbiased and open minded manner, but don't hold it against them, most people are that way. I suggest bringing up another subject for discussion to gauge their reactions.
     
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  11. Infjente

    Infjente Community Member

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    You're probably bulldozing them. Humbleness can't be faked. If you are better than them at this and you know it, they are going pick up on that. Making you feel insecure is their only defense. If you get insecure, that can be the leap hole they need to regain some confidence. They are going to need confidence to be motivated for all the work they have ahead of them.
     
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  12. Rowan Tree

    Rowan Tree Community Member

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    I've traveled in activist and academic circles and enjoyed friendships with an ideologically diverse set; I tend to identify with the more catastrophically tragic currents of the left, but associate with socialists and liberals of many tendencies, and my oldest two friends are liberal progressive and Burkean conservative (it's a shitty time to be a Burkean, so at least we can commiserate about the ruination of our respective ideals). Generally, I have encountered complex political sensitivities and learned that few people are capable of submitting their beliefs to brutal scrutiny, and even the few who are can only do so when they feel comradely. A debate is broadly not a testing of thought, but just ideological optics. An internal debate can be excellent, but unless there are strongly defined, shared foundations, it degenerates into identity policing—for the left, this is often the case because it is about fifty-plus competing ideologies and most people are still working out which one of about twelve of them they prefer.
     
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  13. Ginny

    Ginny Good Green Glow

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    I agree with @Gaze that EQ is just as important as IQ. I think in this day and age we are taught to be more sensitive to certain matters. I don't know if that is something to be judged negatively or positively - there sure are aspects of both - so for the time being I'll just take it as it is. However, it happens just as often as not that difficult subjects are not being adressed in growing up and therefore some people don't learn how to deal with it. I guess it will be an effect of EQ more than IQ whether someone is (in)sensitive or starts to react instead of responding.

    I don't think political orientation has anything to do with having a discussion of any kind when all parties are equal. I remember having read an article which referenced guidelines to debating (if I were home I would look up which essay they were from) and it said among other things that the best debates are to be had with those who have a completely different perspective from your own; you should be able to listen to one another's viewpoints and accept them as viewpoints, address them instead of just reacting to them - obviously you're allowed to have feelings about these things, but it may not be the best approach in a debate to have them overpower you and perhaps even irrationalise your arguments in the process. I mean, even if you have strong feelings about something that may threaten the rationality of what you say, you might as well just go ahead and say it, right? Those points, too, could be discussed, even if the discussion went a little ways off for a while. Am I right? However, it may exceed the level of self-awareness of some people, as it is hard to acheive, especially face-to-face in real-time discussions. I am only just starting to do that myself, and that is without the f2f-element.

    To address your question proper, it may have a bit to do with maturity of the intellectual kind, but mostly for an insufficient validation and education on emotional maturity. Because while it is widely said that people should be accepting and open, people rarely are or develop it in a way that makes their opinions impervious to attacks (or perceived attacks, not saying that you were) or even makes their opinions flexible enough to adapt (to) new perspectives.
     
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  14. Ren

    Ren Pin's android

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    Based on my experience with doing a PhD but also in general, most people have difficulty debating in a completely detached, dispassionate way. It does not seem to be how most people function, so I would say that yes, it's quite possible that the friends you're used to debating with are a small sample that's not representative of the population at large, including the population of doctoral students. It's good that you have such friends, because debates of that kind are important for the sharpening of the critical mind – but I suspect you'll have to adapt a little bit in your new university.

    That being said, there are probably other students you haven't met yet who would be more on your wavelength. I'd be surprised if there weren't at least a small percentage of students that have the same ability that you do of detaching themselves from their positions. Maybe you need a little more time to find them. But with the others, yeah, test the waters first, and consider working on the form of how you say things, too. That's something you're probably potentially very good at thanks to NiFe. You'd be surprised how much the way you say something can impact a person's reaction to it. Adding "I think that...", "I personally would differ...", "Good point, but..." can be so potent, haha.

    Anyway, hope that helps. :)
     
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  15. OP
    Hostarius

    Hostarius Permanent Fixture

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    @Peppermint Yeah you're right about the political baggage of evolutionary biology, which is exactly why I brought it up in the discussion; we'd been talking big for a good 2 and a half hours, including about the alt-right and Jordan Peterson, &c. This is why I found it weird that that subject in particular weirded them out like that.

    @Rowan Tree I think you're absolutely right about that 'comradely' feeling being key to open debates, since there's always the baseline of 'I know what you actually think', so me playing devil's advocate with myself and others is always in that context. I probably took that for granted with these new people, who are still figuring me out I suppose.

    Right, I have to go now, but there are some other comments I want to address, so bear with me. Thanks for the input, guys!
     
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  16. Lady Jolanda

    Lady Jolanda The Queen of Sophistry
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    First of all, congratulations on starting your PhD in history. I hope you'll find it enjoyable and will be successful in your efforts. :)
    I think it makes sense that you would get annoyed. You are interested, -and received proper 'training', in critical thinking and debate, and you are trying to follow the 'rules' for such kind of discourse, and then you find the others aren't playing by the rules.
    Perhaps you're even disappointed in your fellow students? As in, come on, we're all PhD students here, surely I can expect a certain level of quality in intellectual interaction from you guys? And then you find out it isn't so. Disappointing, and hence annoying.

    No? You are openly discussing a challenging subject. You are venting your feelings and you are looking for other people's viewpoints, answers and solutions. I would say that is very pro-social behavior? What am I missing here. Am I taking this too literally again? :D

    I do not know how one would define 'intellectual maturity'. I would say they are ignorant of proper intellectual conduct, and possibly a tad irrational, but to call that immature...
    Perhaps you can recommend them some courses or books on critical thinking?

    It is quite possible that they are deeply invested in certain positions that they hold, but feel defenseless against your superior debating skills, and hence fall back on emotion. (Just like I resort to blatant sophistry when someone points out my bullshit. It's only afterwards that I sit down and re-think my inner framework to incorporate this newfound truth.)
    If that is the case, to which you can subtly inquire, the books and courses will help them. Hell, you can even make yourself completely defenseless and open and sympathetic and show them "I'm just an ordinary guy who learned some tricks. You can learn this too."

    In the same vein you can see this as an interesting challenge to improve your own communication skills. "How to bypass defenses and deliver a message that people will listen to, understand, and accept". If you can get them to be receptive to increasing their critical thinking skills, then you can ask them to help you up your communication game?
    Or perhaps open up with that, and then use that to persuade them. The good old help me, help you principle.

    But of course, they might not be interested at all, and in that case it's probably best to find other people to intellectually engage with. :)

    You need more xNTP friends. ;)

    Your discussion touched on a very interesting subject. Kin selection, group selection, in-group bias, selfish genes... fascinating stuff.
    What is your viewpoint on the matter anyway?
     
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  17. jkxx

    jkxx Community Member

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    Several posters hit upon this point so only reiterating it in a way - a friend of mine taught me about the notion of the "emotional tail wagging the rational dog" and the idea here is we do have sensitivities which have an unconscious or irrational basis and which color our perceptions of what should be a neutral topic. What is unconscious is overwhelmingly powerful and as a rule trumps anything under our conscious control. The only way to bring more of this material to the conscious (so that it loses its charge and control over our actions) is to develop self-awareness and that is imo something which is not sufficiently taught in school nor seen as particularly important by large swaths of society. The end effect of this can be individuals walking around with unprocessed unconscious material driving their behavior and lowering their ability to process different view points in impartial or beneficial (to themselves) ways.

    TL;DR the problem was likely not the topic which was introduced but what else it may have been connected to in these people's minds which they are unaware of and thus simply reacting instead of responding.

    And as @Ren put it using disarming or otherwise "soft" phrasing to introduce your position can be enormously helpful toward getting such a person warmed up to the discussion - because generally they will want to continue it as long as they can get over this initial trap. After all they would realize they feel rather strongly about the subject even if they can't immediately pick up on why.

    (with apologies for the overly psychological view point)
     
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  18. Ren

    Ren Pin's android

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    I agree with Jo, @Hostarius. I would not say your behavior was "antisocial". This seems far too strong a term!

    At worst you were just a higher entity than them and hence incomprehensible. I'm just kidding.
     
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  19. Tin Man

    Tin Man "a respectable amount of screaming"

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    A thread complaining about a lack of intellectual maturity in others.

    Did I log onto the INTJ forum by mistake?
     
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  20. Lady Jolanda

    Lady Jolanda The Queen of Sophistry
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    No apologies necessary? :)
     
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