The Crow's Dream

Philosophy, geekery, and the meaning if life, and what I read this week…

Individual thought

with one comment

I am going to continue my reflections on The Book of Tea. In the previous post, I talked about how it is possible to learn to appreciate the natural world by learning about it. The next part of the argument has to do with finding our own way of doing so. Here is a quote:

…men clamour for what is popularly considered the best, regardless of their feelings. They want the costly, not the refined; the fashionable, not the beautiful. To the masses, contemplation of illustrated periodicals, the worthy product of their own industrialism, would give more digestible food for artistic enjoyment than the early Italians or the Ashikaga masters, whom they pretend to admire. The name of the artist is more important to them than the quality of the work. As a Chinese critic complained many centuries ago, “People criticise a picture by their ear.” It is this lack of genuine appreciation that is responsible for the pseudo-classic horrors that to-day greet us wherever we turn.

Critical thinking is important when we deal with things like “talking points,” which are provided to us by pundits. They tell us that they will turn us in to “free thinkers,” but they do the opposite. I was lucky enough to have to crawl my way to sckepticism without the benefit of someone who could provide me with the arguments (talking points) against faith. I had to dig them out of my own skull, and I had to stumble when they failed to provide an answer. I had to dig myself out of the darkness. I did not suspend my religious convictions because I had read a book by a prominent writer on the subject, but because years of struggling to become scientifically literate rendered them obsolete. By the same tokeen, reflecting about the Constitution, fills me with a sense patriotism. I do not need propaganda to appreciate and to admire what the founding fathers attempted. Evidence shows me that democracy is good, and I try to embody it every day. I’m not saying that I know everything. What I am saying is that I had to find what I know. I believe that my world view is accurate because it is flexible, and because science and my own thoughts provide me with a way to test my epistemology.

I think we all owe it to ourselves to search for our opponions as new information emerges. This takes time, but science demands time, and it turns our misstakes in to clues for future learning. We must be willing to make an effort to trully understand the world around us, least we surrender our freedom to the sheppards who would love to provide us only with the crumbs of their thoughts.

Note: I modified the post in order to clarify it on 10/22/08 


Written by Hector

October 21, 2008 at 4:22 pm

One Response

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  1. What a good and thoughtful post! It’s true that in so many things, we follow the crowd, or current trends. But in order to think for yourself, you do have to become more knowledgeable, and that takes effort. For science and world cultures, especially, there is so much to learn; we may feel like it is just too hard. The reward for learning is huge. You made me think that this is true of other things too — other things I may be avoiding because it just seems like too much work. But work usually transforms us in some way, so why am I so lazy?


    October 22, 2008 at 12:08 pm

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