Recently, I’ve done a lot of thinking about what it means to accept facts. I see this as a topic for psychology, which presupposes a particular philosophical point of view.
Realists point out that if you want to live in the world that exists, you need to accept facts. Idealists point out that you can change the world that exists — if you take the appropriate action. These two perspectives needn’t conflict. They can be integrated if you agree that you need to accept the facts now, in order to identify effective action to take now, which will change the situation in the future to more resemble your ideal. That is my view (which I got from Ayn Rand).
On the surface, it had always seemed obvious to me that you should accept facts — until I saw some situations in which it seemed I wasn’t doing so. For example, I would repeat a failed approach to persuading someone of my view, expecting a different result next time. Or I would acknowledge a specific lack of skill, without changing my approach to achieving goals in that area. Or I would find myself stewing over a fact that I wished weren’t true.
I now see all of these as examples of not accepting facts. I have a lot more thinking to do about this subject, but I thought I’d share three observations.
1. What does it mean to accept a fact?
Short answer: It means that you factor that information into your thinking, your expectations, and your planning.
For example, I have accepted the fact that I get sick more easily than most people, and that as a result, I need to maintain certain regimens of self-care involving diet, exercise, and sleep.