Blog Post: Elizabeth Barrett Browning – Offers an Example of Intellectual Humility

Linda Elder
Jul 13, 2022 • 138d ago
Elizabeth Barrett Browning – Offers an Example of Intellectual Humility

{"ops":[{"insert":"As you work to deepen your understanding of intellectual virtues and to more fully realize these virtues in your thinking and behavior, it is helpful, if not essential, to find examples of people who have embodied them or who embody them somewhere in life. The short list of essential intellectual virtues in our framework for Critical Thinking are: "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"intellectual empathy, intellectual humility, intellectual autonomy, intellectual courage, intellectual perseverance, confidence and reason, intellectual integrity, and fairmindedness. "},{"insert":"Of course, there are additional intellectual virtues, such as intellectual curiosity, intellectual responsibility, and intellectual discipline. We always begin with the essential intellectual virtues since they are core to living a life of fairminded criticality.\n\nAs an example of someone embodying intellectual virtues, consider this simple, yet elegant statement at the beginning of her book entitled "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Poetical Works of Elizabeth Barrett Browning"},{"insert":". Exhibiting intellectual humility, Browning (1886) does not hesitate to offer this warning to the reader:\n\nThis edition, including my earlier and later writings, I have endeavored to render as little unworthy as possible of the indulgence of the public. Several poems I would willingly have withdrawn, if it were not almost impossible to extricate what has been once caught and involved in the machinery of the press. The alternative is a request to the generous reader that he may use the weakness of those earlier versus, which no subsequent revision has succeeded in strengthening, less as a reproach to the writer than as a means of marking some progress in her other attempts.                               "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"\nIn this example, Barrett Browning carefully points out to the reader that some of her work has weaknesses – specific poems she herself wanted to change once she perceived weaknesses in them; she offers her comments without demure or embarrassment. By doing so she demonstrates that she has no need to pretend as if all were perfect or flawless in her work. She is comfortable speaking openly about these weaknesses as a natural part of development. She demonstrates intellectual humility, as well as intellectual courage, intellectual perseverance, and other intellectual virtues.\n\nTo learn more about intellectual virtues, spend time in the virtuous virtue section of our academy: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#0563c1","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"\n\nAlso see our videos focused on intellectual virtues: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#0563c1","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"\n\nFor definitions and brief conceptualizations of intellectual virtues, see the intellectual virtues terms in our full glossary:\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#0563c1","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":" \n\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"[The Barrett Browning quote was taken from the 1886 edition, London: Thomas V. Cromwell & Co.]"},{"insert":"\n"}]}

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