NST Leader: Big Think

Reading makes a full man. NSTP

TODAY’s Leader is about life’s big questions. About why we are here and other deep questions about reality. After all, today is World Philosophy Day.

No, the aim is not to be a one-day Socrates. Or a Plato or an Aristotle. There is no harm in one day-deep thinking, though. After all, as the contemporary teacher of thinking, Dr Edward De Bono, says, thinking is very hard to do. But it is a skill like any other, and it can be learned.

Unfortunately, as De Bono has found out through his Big Think journey round the world, including Malaysia, thinking, though the most important human skill, is often neglected.

One reason is that many feel thinking is only for philosophers. This may have been true 2,500 years ago when the philosophically-minded Greeks pondered the imponderables. It is true that the ancient philosophers looked out their windows to see the world in its splendid ways.

And they shared this splendour with others through their writings. But as time passed, the writings were more about their windows than the splendours of the world.

Thanks to modern philosophers, we have moved from windows to the world. Political philosopher Michael Sandel, who teaches at Harvard University, is one such.

In his lectures and books such as Justice and What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets, he stimulates debates on how we view the world and on what moral basis.

In another of his book, Liberalism and the Limits of Justice, Sandel carves out a big place for moral purpose in our lives. The Observer of the United Kingdom once called him the master of life’s big questions.

We, too, must engage our minds on such big questions. After all, we are great meaning seekers.

We do these things in journalism — stimulating debates about life’s big and small questions. And proffering points of view.

Philosophers have a place in journalism, not the types who write reams on what makes a good window but how to keep this world as good as we found it.

Philosophy enables a particular turn of mind. One that questions and explores possibilities. De Bono says 90 per cent of error in thinking is due to perception. Philosophy can help change this error-prone perception. Time we thought seriously about thinking.

For this to happen, the teaching of philosophy must change. Too much of pontification is not good for the discipline. Teaching students to philosophise isn’t enough. They must be taught to do philosophy.

The fault may be that our academia may have strayed too far from the etymology of “philosophy” — love of wisdom. Wisdom only comes to those who think their way through this human world.

And act according to this wisdom. How should we live our lives? What makes right actions right? Should everything be for sale? Our universities must make the tools to wisdom — critical thinking and analysis — available to our students. But wisdom just doesn’t happen.

It needs to be caused, and early too. Big questions get answered well by those who read widely. Schools must encourage this reading habit. Reading newspapers daily helps. Francis Bacon was right. Reading makes a full man. So does Big Think.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/leaders/2019/11/540573/nst-leader-big-think

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