Time for another symposium question. Allow me to set this one up a little bit, with a kind of point/counterpoint:
1. It would seem that like-mindedness is quite valuable, since every sincere argument has as its goal agreement, and agreement is a form of like-mindedness. Also, a community that doesn’t agree about anything essential is really no community at all — and, since community is valuable, like-mindedness must also be. Even “agreeing to disagree” requires agreement, and such an agreement is a way to end a potentially hostile dispute. We know even at the individual level that to be of two minds about a subject is “disagreeable” and so we take strong steps to overcome such a situation. So like-mindedness is an obvious good, maybe one of the best of goods.
2. It would seem that like-mindedness is a real problem in human societies. For even if we grant that agreement about what is good is itself a good, much/most agreement is about something that is not necessarily good. Another problem is that like-mindedness is often achieved by silencing the voices of dissent through a process of exclusion. Plus, Rene Girard has shown that like-mindedness concerning the desirability of common objects leads to potentially violent antagonism or aggressive competition for that object. Finally, like-mindedness removes the diversity of opinion that makes thinking something new possible. So it is obvious that like-mindedness is, on the whole, of negative value.
Do you agree that this issue is important, both psychologically, intellectually and politically? So how would you respond to either or both of these points of view? Please respond in the comments section below.