Friday, 3 July 2015

Opinions are like ...

I won't complete the phrase.

'Opinions' have a bad reputation in AA. The word is used to discount what other people say, for instance, 'I'm not interested in opinions; I'm interested in facts,' etc. I've even heard the assertion that 'opinions' (along with all sorts of other supposedly awful things, like treatment centres, slogans, pieces of AA literature without a blue cover, take your pick) are 'killing newcomers'. (This assertion, it should be noted, is itself an opinion.)

According to the Oxford English Dictionary (Shorter), the primary meaning is this: 'a view held about a particular subject or point; a judgement formed; a belief'.

There is nothing innately suspect about opinions, therefore. The question is not whether the utterance in question is an opinion, but whether the opinion, the view, the judgement, or the belief is based on experience, solid principle, and sound reasoning.

If a person does not have sound reason, it's quite reasonable for that person to refrain from forming their own opinions, in the light of their own incapacity. It is unwise to assume that others are equally hamstrung by misfiring synapses, however. After all, if Doctors Silkworth, Jung, and Tiebout hadn't shared their opinions, we would all be the poorer for it.

The Big Book, fortunately, praises reason and the use of the mind, provided that humility is placed first.

My opinion, therefore, is that opinions are perfectly legitimate tools of discourse, although, as the title of this little article implies, few bear close scrutiny.

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