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Chapter 4. Self-Understanding > Making a Commitment to Fair-Mindedness

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:


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