Thursday, October 26, 2017

How to Think by Alan Jacobs

Has thinking become a lost art? Are we drawing conclusions and making decisions without thinking through all the parts of the issues?

Jacobs notes, “Relatively few people want to think.” (17) It might make us uncomfortable. Our peers might not like our conclusions and disapprove of them. Thinking complicates our lives. And make no mistake, it is work!

Jacobs emphasizes that thinking is an art. He does not provide specific instructions in logic, inductive or deductive reasoning. He does not offer strict rules. He does suggest good, practical habits that can help the thinking process, such as the importance of self knowledge.

Rather than being a slave to pure logic, I like that Jacobs says thinking involves the entire person. Our feelings have an impact on our thinking. So do the our relationships with others, our moral views and our biases.

In light of recent American politics, the part of the book I found the most fascinating was about the “outgroup.” Some do not want to be outside the safety of a community that provides security, even if it is at the expense of thought. (35) Rather than think through an issue, the individual parrots the views of those offering the security.

I recommend this book to those who want to understand thinking and how to think without being confronted with the rules of logic and reasoning. You will find many insightful revelations about how you and others think, presented in a very readable form.

Food for thought: Dare to think.

My rating: 4/5 stars.

Alan Jacobs teaches in the Honors Program of Baylor University. He has written many books as well as articles for a range of publications. (Author photograph: Holly Fish.)

Currency (Penguin Random House), 160 pages.

I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher. My comments are an independent and honest review.

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