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Thinking? II
Sunday 1st September 2019 @ 12:17 pm

What do you think?

What a silly question! Or, rather Alan Jacobs tells us in his book ‘How to Think’, “there is no such thing as thinking for yourself.”

He uses the story of Helen Phelps–Roper, (posted yesterday in full to provide a lead in to these few observations) to remind us as humans that, “To think, to dig into the foundations of our beliefs is a risk, and perhaps a tragic risk. There are no guarantees that it will make us happy or even give us satisfaction”


Thinking is social interaction. It is formed within and connected to the people we live/d with, our communities our counties, our TV shows, our gaming habits, our friends, our streets, our media engagement, our churches, our schools, our sports clubs, our drinking tables. Essentially no such thing as thinking for yourself. We think, together.


At best we know this, and we learn to reflect, throw experience + ideas onto the table, and most importantly, listen.


At worst. We think that we think for ourselves, and we hold onto an egocentric view of self, the world, and everything. Jacobs reminds us to note – there is no connection between thinking for yourself, and being correct, or being wrong.


“All of us at various times in our lives believe true things for poor reasons, and [that] whatever we think we know, whether we’re right or wrong, [it] arises from interactions with other human beings.”


So, if thinking for ourselves is not an option, how can we do it better? How can we think / reflect / question / discuss / disagree, in ways that shape ourselves and those around us into finer wider healthier humans, and shape our communities into places of strength and support? How can we think, using our guts and our hearts, as well as our brains? (Remember, we have neuro transmitters in our guts, not just our brain).


These questions seem more important than ever, within my short life–time. To me (and the surrounding social values that continue to shape how I think) it seems the wild and frenzied collapse of neo–liberal consumer–driven capitalism is creating chaos. We, in our western imagination of how we do life, are living through times of being thrown off the cliff. What’s the rescue plan? Have you got one? Because one thing is for sure, throughout human history, sociology, biology and theology, we are better together.


A final word again, from Jacobs. “So, just as we do not think for ourselves but rather, think with others, so too we think in active feelings response to the world and in constant relation to others. Or one should. Only something complete – relational, engaged, honest – truly deserves to be called thinking.”


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