Do you want to know what all my blogs are about? Then read this blog! | Belicons

Do you want to know what all my blogs are about? Then read this blog!

Posted on: 
Monday 07 March 2016

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Do you want to know what all my blogs are about? Then read this blog!


Remarkable ideas maybe not that remarkable?

How can a person think like that?

Does it happen to you too that you hear people on the news (on TV, the radio, or in the paper) saying things that you don't agree too at all. It happens to me regularly. At these moments it is difficult to understand that the other person can be of the opinion that (s)he is. And then we can easily say that that other person is strange and not give his/her opinion a second thought. Still, it is worthy to take a closer look at the arguments of this person.

What happens if you really start to listen?

Try to understand the other person

If you really start listening to someone else, even when that person is of a strange opinion to you, you might be surprised by what you hear. Just try listening with the aim to really understand that person instead of trying to hear points on which you can contradict him/her. If you do this, then you might discover that this person has thought well about his/her opinion.

Maybe (s)he is more right than you thought

In this way it may turn out that this 'strange opinion' comes from underlying ideas that differ from yours. And when you start to understand these other ideas, it may happen that you discover points on which that person even turns out to be more right than you could have guessed before.

But how does this work? What are underlying ideas? And how do underlying ideas influence our opinions?

Underlying ideas of a person

From the moment you are born you try to make sense of your environment. In the beginning of your life you do this based on your experiences with your parents, what you learn in school, what you experience with your friends and later at your work too.

During your life you form an image in this way about how you think that a human being can become happy and what the best way is to live your life. And as a result you try to live a good life according to that image.

Eventually all people will form their own image about what the good life is. An image that can differ greatly from the image that other people have formed. And this will influence their opinion about all kinds of things.

Check out the example below:

Two different views about a technique against cancer:

Kate is 25 and does not believe in God. According to her people should try to make life as comfortable for themselves as possible. She believes strongly in individual freedom of choice and people's own responsibility. She also thinks that it is important that everyone gets equal chances, so that everyone can reach their potential.

Kate is a proponent of technical progress. According to her everything that can make the life of a person better should be used. So when there is a new technique to make the life of a cancer patient better, it should be used. Kate thinks that it should be applied to patients as soon as it is clear that this technique is reliable. In her eyes this would be a step further on the road to finally get rid of all sickness. And that is something that we should try to achieve as human beings.


Richard is 32 and is of the opinion that he cannot decide that religious traditions are false. He is convinced that there is some truth in every religious and non-religious tradition. He also thinks that the human being has a spiritual self next to their physical self. And that we should also take our spiritual self into account. Richard is taking a careful approach to technical progress. Of course, he does wish everyone a healthy life. But he also believes that sickness is a part of life. It has an aim.

For example our current lifestyle is one of the reasons that more and more people get cancer. Should we then try to get rid of cancer with all kinds of techniques? Or should we rethink our life style instead? He wonders what will happen if we would really get rid of all sickness. Wouldn't we suddenly meet all kinds of new problems? According to Richard it is important that, when a new technique becomes available, to consider whether we should really want to use that technique.

Suppose a conversation between them

Kate and Richard have very different opinions. Suppose they would talk about this new technique and Richard would bring up the 'spiritual self' of the human being. Then Kate could think: "Oh, it is a guy who thinks like that, never mind." And the conversation would be over quickly. But what would happen if they took some time to really listen to each other? Then Kate could wonder whether a technique that works well has downsides anyway.

And Richard could wonder whether he might be too sceptical about new techniques. Together they could come to the conclusion that it is on the one hand important to sick individual to receive help when that it possible. But that it is on the other hand as important  to tackle causes of the disease, as lifestyle.

What happens in this example?

In this example you see that you can really learn something from each other when you do not end a conversation at the moment that you discover that the other person has (in your opinion) strange ideas. Even when your underlying ideas differ a lot. The key is to really try to understand him/her.

When we start listening to each other in this way, we can understand each other better and better and in that way gain more respect for each other. Even when we disagree about a lot. And when we look around we see many people who all think differently. You can imagine that it would make life easier when we can understand others better and when we can even learn from each other.

Where does one find underlying ideas?

We encounter underlying ideas very often, mostly without noticing it. We can divide them into three categories:

  1. Underlying ideas from persons

    People have all kinds of opinions and behind that underlying ideas that affect these opinions. The example above showed how these underlying ideas, in this case religious, can determine our opinion about something concrete of a technique against cancer. But it also showed that people of different underlying ideas can really learn something from each other.

  2. Underlying ideas in society

    For example economics

    Not only people have underlying ideas, but societies do too. For example, in the Dutch society economics is seen as very important. Therefore, it is  difficult to take a product off the market when there is a suspicion that it is bad for our health.

    You may think that this is not an underlying idea in society, but simply the opinion of many people in The Netherlands. However, when you would ask all people in The Netherlands what they think is most important: economics or health. Then most people would choose health.

    This is an underlying idea

    Precisely because it is possible that in a society economics is regarded as more important than health, even when the majority of the people don't think so, it shows that this is an underlying idea in society that cannot easily be changed.

  3. Underlying ideas in our objects

    For example the TV

    Underlying ideas can even be found in our objects. For example, our society has undergone a profound change because of the introduction of the TV. One of the changes that is due to the TV is that people now know much more about disasters around the world. We do not only hear about it, but also see the pictures and videos. And this suddenly gives us the responsibility to act upon it. In this way a utilitarian object like a TV can affect us.

    Drones and our privacy

    We are used to many objects now, but new developments can raise a new discussion. At the moment there is a discussion about drones, a discussion that will some day end. However, it is good to talk about this subject, because in that way we can consider what role we want drones to have in our world.

    We are now, for example, worried about what drones will do to our privacy. When we would not talk about this, then in a few decades people might not care so much about privacy any more. Is that okay? When not, then it is important to have a discussion about drones now.

Underlying ideas in this blog

Remarkable statements about technological developments

In this blog I'll respond once a week to a statement that I heard or read about in the media that evoked a strong response in me. Since I'm working on a PhD project in the philosophy of technology at the moment, these blogs will all be about technological developments.

The philosophy of technology is not a well-known discipline, but it is about that when new things are invented, the scientists who have created it may think that it is a great invention, but when we look at it from a broader perspective, it may not be as nice as they thought. For example, a scientist can invent something that should give a boost to the economy and for that reason think that his or her invention is great. However, it may not be as good for society as a whole, or it may not fit into our culture, there may be some ethical problems with it, it may give people psychological problems, etc. For that reason there are philosophers of technology who try to consider technological developments from a broader perspective and in that way we can also contribute to a better future.

You can take the word 'technological developments' very broad, for all human-made devices around us have been invented once and thus the result of a technological development.

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Taking their arguments into account

When I write a blog I first describe why I think that this statement is so remarkable, but I will also take account of the arguments / underlying ideas of the person whose statement it was. After taking these arguments / underlying ideas into account I'll respond to them and consider whether I can change my initial opinion. This means that it can happen that I'll change my own opinion at the end of a blog.

However, it can also happen that I see no reason to change my opinion after taking a closer look at the opinion of the one whose statement it was. But even when I don't change my opinion I'll not call the other person strange. Then we just have a difference of opinion, both with our own arguments and ideas.

Your input

Precisely because I do a PhD project in the philosophy of technology, I hope that in this way, I can talk with other people about this. It could happen that you agree with me. But it could also happen that you don't. Maybe you think I don't do justice to the arguments of that other person. Or maybe you have a totally different comment to the blog. Let me and other readers know what you think. I'm very curious. But give your comment with respect for each person on this website, because that is what Belicons is about.

If you would like to continue the conversation about a certain subject, then there is more space on the Forum. Create an account via the register form and you can start a discussion of your own.


When I have written a blog, I mostly understand the person who did the statement better, even when I still disagree with them. Sometimes I change my mind while writing the blog. After writing a blog, I create a vlog in which I express an own statement on the subject. Since this is only after writing the blog, this can be a statement that I didn't have before. That is always a nice experience. You can also find these vlogs at my YouTube channel Belicons en

Watch the vlog that goes with this blog:

I will create the vlog that goes with this blog soon!

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