Can we talk about thinking?


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Can we talk about thinking?

We are born as unreflective thinkers; many of us die decades later, still unreflective thinkers.

Who ever told us that we need to think about thinking? Who told us that we must practice thinking? Just as we must practice throwing or hitting a ball to improve our ability to play sports, likewise we must also practice thinking if we wish to improve our ability to think.

Isn’t thinking just like breathing? We all breath and think; no one needs to practice such automatic things that our body does without our conscious action. Wrong! The body does handle breathing pretty well without our conscious management, but not so with thinking.

There is a difference between “naive thinking” and “sophisticated thinking”. Can the naïve thinker become a sophisticated thinker? The answer is yes; provided there is motivated practice and study.

A child clinging to her mother’s skirt is not an uncommon site. A child with wide eyes and a look of apprehension seeking security and assurance by remaining very close to his mother (his center of balance) is similar to the centricities we all carry forward and often remain with us until we die.

Our centricities, our centers of irrational influence, are often the ego and the group. I suspect that as we get older we focus less on the ego for guidance and more upon the social group. Our nation centric, our ethnic centric, our political centric forces provide us with illusions of security without any independent thinking on our own.

I think that it is worthwhile to focus our attention on the metaphors ‘egocentricity is a disease’ and ‘sociocentricity is a disease’. The cure for both diseases is self-consciousness. Being self-conscious permits us to combat the fever of irrationality caused by both tendencies.

Of the two I suspect sociocentricity causes us and our community the greatest harm. When our ego leads us to do stupid things the harm done is limited because we generally affect only our self and maybe a few others. Sociocentricity, however, can easily be identified as the cause of the destruction and death of many.

Ethno centric is one form of socio centric attitudes and behavior. Ethno centric is placing ones own race as the privileged group. This form of socio centric behavior is perhaps the most predominate and lethal form of social bias. Regardless of which group we belong to I suspect that one of the most important things one might do to make the world a better place in which to live is for all of us to become self-conscious of these innate human tendencies.

Basic concepts become weapons of warfare within social groups. Basic words such as capitalism, socialism, communism, democracy, freedom, oligarchy, plutocracy, evil, patriotism, terrorism, etc. are twisted and maneuvered to confuse, distort, and to excite members of a group one way or another.

I think that people often have difficulty distinguishing ideological uses of such words from their non ideological uses. What do you think?

It appears that the key question of an egocentric is “How can I get what I want and avoid having to change in any fundamental way?”