Making a Commitment to Fair-Mindedness
Though no one defines himself or herself as an egocentric person, each of us should recognize that being egocentric is an important part of what we have to understand in dealing with the structure of our mind. One of the ways to begin to confront our own egocentrism is by exploring the extent to which we have allowed our identity to be egocentrically shaped. For example, as we previously emphasized, we are all born into a culture, a nation, and a family. Our parents inculcate into us particular beliefs (about the family, personal relationships, marriage, childhood, obedience, religion, politics, schooling, and so on). We form associations with people who have certain beliefs (which they have encouraged, or expected, us to accept). We are, in the first instance, a product of these influences. Only through self-understanding can we begin to be more than a product of influences.
If we uncritically believe what we were taught to believe, these beliefs are likely to become part of our egocentric identity. When they do, it affects the manner in which we believe. For example, we are all egocentric to the extent that an examination of our attitudes reveals that we unconsciously use egocentric standards to justify our beliefs:
If we consciously recognize these tendencies in ourselves and deliberately and systematically seek to overcome them by thinking fair-mindedly, our definition of ourselves can aid our development as thinkers. We then begin to divide our thoughts into two categories: 1) thoughts that serve to advance the agenda of our egocentric nature, and 2) thoughts that serve to develop our rational fair-mindedness. To effectively do this, we need to develop a special relationship to our mind; we must become a student of our mind's operations, especially of its pathology.