Thursday, April 18, 2013

Thinking is really hard and exposes an individual to being wrong!

Thinking is hard.  I mean, it's really hard--and if you do it, sometimes you'll be wrong.  I find the lack of emphasis on logic and reason among my peers mind boggling.  I began reading Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis two nights ago (for a 3rd time).  Here are a few reflections he has on the topic along with my additional thoughts:


"At that time the humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; and if it was proved they really believed it.  They still connected thinking with doing and were prepared to alter their way of life as a result of the chain of reasoning."

Many of us don't want to change.  We want to go with the flow.  Our life ought to reflect what we think and believe.  It's much more convenient for us if we don't hold any opinions or viewpoints--because then we can do whatever we want. 

Determining What to Think is Complicated

"[We have] been accustomed, ever since we [were little] to having a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside [our] heads."

Sometimes, it's really difficult to think about all the moving parts involved with different issues.  Take for instance the current gun rights/control debate.  I've been on 20 different sites and read editorials from probably 40 different individuals with various political affiliations and beliefs.  Many present compelling cases, and mutually exclusive cases.  It's often difficult to reduce their editorial into the positions the author holds.  Does one reject gun control because (s)he believes human dignity requires the freedom to defend oneself, or does (s)he reject it because (s)he believes the 2nd Amendment protects it.  Does (s)he reject it because human dignity requires better protection of innocent lives often killed by individuals using guns?  Does (s)he reject it because (s)he believes the 2nd Amendment no longer matters?  Do both parties accept it or reject it merely because their leaders tell them to do so?

To complicate matters, most of the facts on issues aren't released or presented in individual articles.  For instance, the recent legislation voted down by the Senate wasn't merely about background checks--but that's all people seem to be talking about.  Some democrats and republicans flipped (totaling 9) because they believed the bill was actually pro gun rights.  Wait, what? A bill restricting one's ability to purchase guns is pro gun rights?  Yup, because there were plenty of additional provisions that actually gave gun owners additional rights.  That's the political game.

Merely finding information on a topic is difficult.  Figuring out the political slants, underlying beliefs/assumptions, and biases is even more difficult.  Where people are coming from is an important frame of reference, but we rarely have access to it without spending a lot of time searching.

Thinking Requires that Shift Our Focus
Demon says, "Even if a particular train of thought can be twisted so as to end in our favor, you will find that you have been strengthening in your patient the fatal habit of attending to universal issues and withdrawing his attention from the stream of immediate sense experience."

By stopping to think about something, we have to shift our focus from the "now" into something that seems to have less substance.  We are no longer capable of using our time to pursue present desires, but we must reflect on how we ought to manage our lives.  Removing ourselves from the stream can be very difficult.

So What Can We Do?
[Demon says,] "By the very act of arguing, you awake the [individual's] reasoning; and once it is awake, who can foresee the result?"

1.  If you're Catholic, check your viewpoints against Hers.  The Church is our bastion for Truth, Justice, and Charity.  Figure out if She has an official stance on an issue.  If She does, it's right--you just need to figure out why, and be able to explain it.

2. Discuss your opinions with others, but don't force the conversation on people. As you can see by the Lewis quote above, merely engaging in the discussion might lead them (or you) to Truth.  Practicing our "thinking" abilities will get better at it in the future.  Remember not to have an unwanted conversation with others.  Forcing the issue will likely push them away from your views, even if they ultimately agree with you!

3. Be open minded, and be willing to be wrong (if She has no official stance). Engaging yourself in formulating opinions requires testing them by discussing the issues with others.  This means that you might be wrong--and that's okay!  If you're wrong, change your opinion.  That's admirable and respectable--not something to be looked down upon as it's presented by the modern media and politicians. Sometimes you might be correct about the issue, but incorrect in how you present it. Be open to changes in that regard.

4. Be charitable and loving in your discussions with others.  Even if they are of a different opinion, commend them for their thoughts.  It's difficult to be courageous enough to disagree with somebody and voice it.  "Crossing the aisle" and mending gaps requires respecting the other side.  If you can't respect their opinion, respect what they are doing.  

5. Find role models that exhibit the above behaviors when making and addressing views. Instead of having to parse through all the information, let them do it for you. Remember though, they aren't going to present all the facts.  Find somebody that does the same thing on the other side, and read that too. This will help you formulate holistic views, and protect you from saying something ignorant in discussions with others.

1 comment:

  1. Check out Brock's blog. It will make you think. But are you prepared to think?