What are these things called Dispositions?

Dispositions are our attitudes of mind – the stances/perspectives that we tend to take when dealing/engaging with understanding oneself, others, evidence/knowledge, issues/problems & experience.

If one is Mindful, one brings to bear one’s purposefully developed dispositions in every moment of one’s cognitive, collaborative and emotional conduct.

All five of these dispositions are dealt with below – starting with reflexivity – the founding moment of practical wisdom – as Socrates says –  “γνῶθι σεαυτόν !”

Reflexivity – the founding disposition of practical wisdom

Reflexivity – What it is: As primates we have an immense range of reflex actions embedded in our neuro-physiology. When the medic taps that point below your knee with that rubber hammer, s/he is looking for an automatic response. This automatism gives rise to the well-worn, often pejorative phrase, ‘knee-jerk reaction’.

Reflexivity is all about resisting one’s ‘knee-jerk’ reactions – but not those founded in our neuro-physiology, rather those born of our acquired habits of mind. Being reflexive is about striving not to leap to assumptions or jump to interpretations – it is about resisting our predjudices – our prejudgements.

Reflexivity is seen as the foundation of practical wisdom as it is vital that, in making judgements, you are mindful of your habits of mind.

If we are to found our judgements well we must notice what we notice, and question what we perceive.

Becoming Reflexive

To accelerate your pursuit of practical wisdom, learn more by engaging with further material, guidance and resources in the Members’ Area.


Towards Experience

Practical wisdom only grows in the soil of one’s experience. But wisdom does not simply come with age – its underpinning dispositions and constituent capabilities are only developed if an appropriate disposition to one’s experience is acquired – it is your experiencing that counts, not your experience!

Towards Knowledge and Evidence

The wise one understands that knowledge, reality and truth are not simple conceptions, and that objectivity is a pursuit not a possibility

Towards Issues and Problems

To have a disposition towards issues and problems that facilitates good judgement one has to develop a stance that is somewhat more considered and philosophically informed. It is a disposition that is, as are all the other dispositions, founded on reflexivity, but where that foundation is dominant. It is also the disposition that fertilises the ground for the cultivation of the strategic imagination.

Towards Others

We do not live in a neutral world – it is a veritable forest of perspectives, opinions, positions and interests. It is a world of ‘others’ that we must navigate where interests are protected and pursued, and ideas, viewpoints and beliefs defended.

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