Thinking well or not?

On trial for heresy, Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” What was his offense? He encouraged students to question the accepted beliefs of his time and culture and to think for themselves. Although sentenced to death, Socrates had the option of choosing exile or life in prison. But Socrates was convinced these alternatives would take from him the one thing that made life useful: examining the world around him, discerning its meaning and figuring out how to make it a better place.

Fortunately when it comes to examining life, we don’t have to choose between questioning it and things less appealing like exile, prison or death. Sadly, however, many of us refuse to think deeply and avoid questioning our existence and other existential questions. Why? It’s not for lack of time. Perhaps its laziness or a fear of what conclusions meaningful reflection might lead to.

So many people carry opinions about life, death, God, origin of existence, etc.  – most of which are superficial and have no basis in deep thinking.  They haven’t carefully examined the possibilities and or considered the philosophical arguments on both sides of the issues.  They simply go with the flow of popular opinion.

Dr. Daniel Kahneman is Nobel Prize winning psychologist with an expertise in behavioral economics. In his 2011 NY Times best-seller Thinking, Fast & Slow, Kahneman argues that people don’t think well. He writes, “We are normally blind about our own blindness. What psychology and behavioral economics have shown is that people don’t think very carefully. They are influenced by all sorts of superficial things in their decision-making, and they procrastinate and don’t read the small print.” If Kahneman is right, here’s my challenge – let’s not be like most people.

Fact is, those who do examine their lives, think about who they are, where they’ve been, how they got here, and where they’re going, are much happier people. No one’s life is free from pain and suffering. But those who gain some sense of their place in the universe also have a framework for interpreting and understanding how all it all fits together.

How deeply have you been thinking lately?

“No problem can withstand the assault of substantial thinking.” -Voltaire

1 Response to “Thinking well or not?”

  1. 1 Giacinta
    June 18, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    That is an excellent wake-up call. I think the problem in our 21st century world is distraction. We are never required to be alone with our thoughts – there’s always the smartphone, the internet, the tv, tons of information coming at us every minute. Real time for philosophical meditation, increasingly requires that we make a conscious effort to unplug and get away from all of it for a while. There was an article on this in the Atlantic a while back –

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re: the random-ness

Husband. Father. Senior Pastor of Parkview Community Church in Glen Ellyn, IL.

Ok...so you've located the place where I put down my random thoughts. The key word here is random: music, sports, art, food, books, news, spiritual musings, weird stories, etc. I'm especially interested in how everyday experiences of life intersect with the ancient stories of Scripture. Thanks for reading.
June 2012
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Thoughts gone by

"No problem can withstand the assault of substantial thinking." Voltaire



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