That one’s mind is closed just at the point where he thinks itnis most open is a lesson that can be learned from baseball as wellnas from epistemology. This verity seems to include higher educationn, for the archetype of this fact is the liberal professor who,nwhile formally avowing standards of fair play and freedom ofnspeech, cannot abide the open expression of opinions he disagreesnwith. Many conservative writers have dealt with the phenomenonnof the illiberal liberal academician, but I believe I canndocument this phenomenon (as can most who have pursued ancollege degree) with a personal example.nI once took a course in the history of ancient philosophynwith a professor who had a mild, round face and wore glasses,nand whose manner was both humorous and studious. He gavenoff the idea that, although a Catholic and teaching at a Catholicnuniversity, he was a man of independent mind who had contrarynopinions about certain Church doctrines, including PapalnInfallibility. He also had the habit of frequently asking questionsnof his class, which was a great technique to use in a coursenwhich studied Plato, Socrates, and the pre-Socratics, all ofnwhom were fond of confounding opponents by means of tricknquestions, conundrums and logical absurdities. Now, as ithappened,nthe professor realized early in the course that when I wasnasked such questions as Zeno asked his audience, I wouldnanswer straightforwardly, offering no qualification or escapenroute for myself. At which point the professor, by means of ansecond question, would reveal the contradiction that the ancientnphilosopher had discovered lay beneath my easy rationalizationnof the nature of time or being. As a result, thenprofessor called on me more than the others, and when, after antime, I realized this, I decided to go along with it and notnchange my straightforward and literally unsophisticated way ofnanswering. After all, I reasoned, the professor was not doing itnout of malice, but only for expository motives, ais it were.nOnce, however, I won such a contest with the professor. Itnhappened just before class while he and I were standing outsidenthe classroom, only this time the subject was politics. In particular,nthe argument, as far as I can remember it, concernednwhether the United Nations would enact a certain proposalndetrimental to the United States. The professor took the standardnliberal position, I took the conservative position, and henattacked by means of his usual pointed question. I respondednby means of a distinction between actions which the GeneralnAssembly could take and those which the Security Councilncould take. Surprisingly, that was the end of the argument, fornthe professor made no reply, and the discussion broke off andnclass began.nReflecting on this later, I perceived how odd it was. The professornhad no reason to believe that I was particularly bright,nhaving often caught me off guard in class, and he no doubtnassumed that he could prevail in a political debate even whennhe did not know much about the subject. He lived and worked,nChronicles of Culturen• THE OPEN MIND ‘nCOM M I: innnI realized, in an academic environment in which liberal opinionnwas taken for granted, fiinctipning as a token of acceptabilityninto academic company. Naturally, such opinion went unchallengednand untested, making it difficult to defend whenever,nunexpectedly, it was challenged. For this reason,naggressive conservatives have often earned a reputation fornrhetorical brilliance they have not altogether merited.nLiberalism has a peculiar blind spot, for it believes in its own rationality,ni.e., that liberal opinions are the end result of openndiscussion and frank reason, and therefore that any disagreementncan only be the result of irrationality or motivated by vilenpurposes. Why else disagree with an opinion both reasonablenand high-minded? Ironically, just because liberalism professesnto be rational, it closes off the possibility of fiarther debate; professingnto be the product of an open mind, it produces closednones instead.nX o have an open mind means not so much the commonlynperceived notion of it, which I might almost term the vulgarnnotion, that is, believing the other fellow has a right to hisnopinion, and that we ought to make an effort to hear him out.nThis might merely mean an empty courtesy on our part, givingnthe fellow a chance to speak, but without ever intending tonhave his opinion influence ours. To have an open mind means,nI think, being ready in one’s own person to follow the truthnwherever it may lead, and to hear the voices not of other peoplenso much, but of reality. To have a closed mind, then, means tonclose off those various witnesses and testimonies we might likento ignore, which witnesses need not always be other people, butnother forms of evidence, other accesses to reality.nOur society has largely closed its mind today on what arencalled the “social issues,” taking a view of them that is severelyn