“In general, an opinion is a judgment, viewpoint, or statement about matters commonly considered to be subjective. What distinguishes fact from opinion is that facts are verifiable, i.e. can be objectively proven to have occurred.” (Wikipedia)
So here’s my question: Do you choose your opinions? Do you have control over your judgments and viewpoints? If, for example, you are of the opinion that the Green Bay Packers are the best NFL team, could you choose to have a different opinion on the matter?
If you answered YES, I have a follow-up question. Can you choose to have NO opinion on a topic? That sounds much harder. If I sit down next to you and say: “Abortion,” you probably have an opinion on that topic almost instantaneously. How would it be possible for you to decide NOT to have an opinion on that topic? When might such a decision have been made? To me it feels like opinions happen to us, rather than something we do.
At this point some of you A students are thinking: “Sure, my opinions are emergent, but they’re the result of all the reading and thinking and information gathering I’ve done throughout my life.”
Granted. But it sounds to me like we don’t have any control over our opinions. At least not in the moment. So choosing not to have an opinion… any opinion… is out of the question. An opinion happens to you like Psoriasis. And yet, our opinions play a huge role in our identity. “I’m who I am because I believe these things.” But you didn’t decide to believe those things and you couldn’t decide to believe something else if I put a gun to your head.
The more I think about it, the more worthless opinions — yours and mine — seem. Could I go all day without expressing an opinion? For one hour?
“Do not seek the truth; only cease to cherish opinions.” — Seng-ts’an