How To Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds
By: Alan Jacobs
Currency (October 17, 2017)
How To Think, is a fabulous dive into the philosophy of thinking. Unfortunately, thinking is hard. And because it is hard, few seem to venture very far into it. I think this fact makes the art of persuasion easier. For if you can just repeat an emotional idea in a simple, but visual way, who needs to think? As Jacobs points to, the best starting place is perhaps a thoughtful reflection of our own motives, perceptions, and context. Here is to better, more strategic, thinking.
Two of my favorite quotes:
We shouldn’t expect moral heroism of ourselves. Such an expectation is fruitless and in the long run profoundly damaging. But we can expect to cultivate a more general disposition of skepticism about our own motives and generosity toward the motives of others. And—if the point isn’t already clear—this disposition is the royal road that carries us to the shining portal called Learning to Think.
Again, this is no new thing. T. S. Eliot wrote almost a century ago about a phenomenon that he believed to be the product of the nineteenth century: “When there is so much to be known, when there are so many fields of knowledge in which the same words are used with different meanings, when everyone knows a little about a great many things, it becomes increasingly difficult for anyone to know whether he knows what he is talking about or not.” And in such circumstances—let me add emphasis to Eliot’s conclusion—“ when we do not know, or when we do not know enough, we tend always to substitute emotions for thoughts.”