Seen Thursday in the Dispatch-Argus, the daily newspaper in the Illinois Quad-Cities, a quote from Kierkegaard that I hadn’t seen before (and haven’t been able to find in a cursory Google keyword search). It was in a column picked up from the Los Angeles Times news service:

The Danish philosopher Soren Kierkegaard famously observed that if everyone is a Lutheran then no one is a Lutheran.

What he meant is that if you’re born into a culture in which everybody has a similar worldview, you don’t have an opportunity to develop genuine belief because your convictions are not subject to scrutiny.

Put another way, if you don’t talk to people who hold different views, you will not know what they believe, and you won’t even know what you believe. Having conversations with people who hold beliefs different from yours affords you the opportunity to reflect — and only then can you evaluate whether your beliefs hold true.

It’s certainly something that Kierkegaard might have said, and I copied it down so I could look it up when I got home. The column is good, too; it goes on from the Kierkegaard quote, ending with this:

In our highly polarized environment, talking to those who hold different beliefs isn’t easy, but it’s easier than you think. Fewer people talking across divides creates a hunger for honest, sincere conversation. But what there should really be is a hunger for truth.

And the best way to achieve that is to subject your beliefs to scrutiny.


Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay, “Test your beliefs, seek other viewpoints,” Dispatch-Argus [Moline, Illinois), 24 July 2019 [Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay are the authors of the forthcoming book “How to Have Impossible Conversations.” They wrote this for the Los Angeles Times (TNS).]

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