Impartiality implies a neutral, unprejudiced attitude when considering an idea or event. It entails a temporary suspension of whatever dispositions we may have towards something, and acts as a stabilizing technique in the midst of the diverse influences impinging on our actions. As such, it is a useful and often necessary cognitive and/or behavioral tool in a wide variety of circumstances that require accurate, trustworthy information as a means of working towards a desired result. For example: Adopting an impartial point of view acts as a safeguard against bias when conducting scientific work or learning new skills, and it provides a measure of equality when organizing and managing socially responsible regulatory practices, as in civic administration and legal systems.
However, because it entails distancing ourselves from our personal traits and experiences, impartiality does not reflect a complete engagement with life: it does not ground us in the universal intersubjectivity of life, in our natural and often chaotic interdependence. As the word itself implies, impartiality pertains to a partial, situationally specific type of behavior, not a fundamental engagement with life. Nevertheless, it is an indispensable behavior in terms of setting the stage for being creatively involved with life.
Creative activities and relationships involve us as active participants in the circumstances they present to us. This implies that we act most creatively when we can express our personal ideas and inclinations in the context of our fundamental interdependence. In this sense—in the context of the wholeness of our activities and relationships—impartiality provides an initial and particularly fruitful perspective. By temporarily holding our personal dispositions in check (as impartiality implies), we offset whatever tendency we might have to put our individual interests and inclinations first, which removes a huge obstacle to genuine participation. Impartiality can be thought of as a kind of cleansing technique, a way of wiping away conditioned or biased patterns of behavior so that we can welcome whatever comes to us in a manner that accepts it as part of the wholeness of life, and therefore part of who we are.
Because interdependence is the fundamental ground within which we live, we need to keep it well-nourished as a means of contributing most beneficially to the health and well-being of ourselves and our world. Impartiality helps us to do this by preparing us to have a genuinely open mind. A mind that is cleared of biased thoughts and emotions is a mind that is ready to receive new thoughts and emotions or rejuvenate old ones. In this sense, impartiality acts like a gateway into our innate creativity.
“If we want to make our lives as creative as possible, we need to honor our
interdependence by submitting to it in our daily lives. . . . By moving forward
in ways that free us from the demands of individualistic objectives, we sensitize
ourselves to the entire spectrum of possibilities available to us within a chosen activity.”
From P.D. Crawford, At Home in Infinity (p.55).
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