Listening as a Virtue – Seminarian Robert

Listening as a Virtue – Seminarian Robert


Sem. Robert Bigabwarugaba.

In his Reveries of a Solitary Walker, left unfinished at his death in 1778, Jean – Jacques Rousseau describes a state of bliss in which we are aware of nothing but our own existence. The experience fuses a heightening of sentience with a diminution of the senses. Rousseau says that it takes in nothing outside the self, but by his own account it depends on a tacit awareness of what it leaves out. This feeling of existence stripped of all other affections retains just enough of the sensory world to cushion rather than to penetrate the apprehension of being.

Listening should work as a motor for advancing a dialogue by bringing to the surface what is most relevant in what is being said or asked, transcending individual preferences and presuppositions. This way, listening can become a collective skill in so far that listening can be called philosophical once it creates the possibilities for all participants of the dialogue to connect to a problem. Therefore, it may be helpful to experiment with different kinds of music, so that the purpose of listening does not become too one – dimensional but serves to cultivate an attitude that transcends personal taste and promotes openness to new ideas.

The under – appreciation of listening, I believe, is rooted in a profound misunderstanding of this act. Listening, it must be said, is an act, and a highly complex one. To listen is not yet to speak, but it’s to be on the way to speaking as well as listening is no mere withdrawal into the self or a frightened retreat but a venturing beyond one’s private convictions and into the convictions of an interlocutor and toward a meeting of minds.

I would say, “no, your problem is listening.” I’m not a mind reader, but I know that very few people know how to listen in a manner that connects, and at a depth that is possible. Ask yourself, who has listened deeply to you in your past? Who has listened