How unfair it is to criticize a thinker for changing a view considered earlier or perhaps only briefly! Should thinkers revere what they have written? Should they defend it, as if it were a child, solely because they gave birth to it? Should they cease to question, to explore, to consider? Should authors treat their own words as dogma to be defended rather than blocks on which they and others can build? When being refuted would better serve the advancement of knowledge, should ideas become pieces that thinkers must force into a scheme and view solely with an eye for “evidence” and “confirmation”? Why make consistent adherence, i.e. stubbornness, such a virtue?
The stigma of “fickleness” should attach only to those who change views for so-called “pragmatic reasons”. Those deserving this stigma are insincere political “flip-floppers,” trend-chasing courters of academic acclaim, and avowed intellectuals interested only in greater mass appeal and the profit and fame that accompany such appeal; in other words, the fickle are those who only pretend to seek the noblest way or purest truth. There should be no shame in ceasing to hold a weak or false position once presented with a better alternative. What some call “inconsistency” is sometimes intellectual growth, maturity, and integrity. It requires more courage to say, “I was wrong,” than to persist in error or—as some people do—to deny that one ever held the discredited view by switching slyly to the new view once it receives authority’s sanction or attains popular acceptance.