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In order to be understood some things, which are not self-evident, call for good will, without which understanding is not achieved. Therefore intelligence is not in itself enough for understanding: one must want to understand, and try, and be willing to sustain the effort. If one starts out being distrustful, guarded, critical, one often actively prevents oneself from understanding. I am not advocating an uncritical approach, I am drawing a necessary distinction between two stages: a person needs first to have a good grasp of something before he can criticize it intelligently and effectively; understanding has got to come before criticism....For the most part philosophy is about different possible ways of looking at things. An original philosopher is saying to us, in effect, ‘You will find you understand things better if you look at them this way.’ First should come all the processes of intellectual empathy, shared vision, imaginative insight, and ‘as-if’ looking outwards from that particular standpoint. Only then should we resort to analysis.

Bryan Magee (from Confessions of a Philosopher, 1997)

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