Why Quote?

June, 2011

Do you ever quote? Why quote?  What is worth quoting and why? These are all good questions and their answers are in the minds of the quoters.:-)

Do I know any quotable quotes worth quoting? Another good question! I know some quotes that I quote a lot and I think have a lot of value. Does that make them worth quoting? From my point of view, yes!

“There is a mysterious connection between language and thinking.”

Here are some quotes that I think are quotable and worth pondering. The quotes are listed in bold Underlined font and each is followed by a related question and answer.

“There is a mysterious connection between language and thinking.”

How can we access our thinking?

Since it is difficult to think without using (one’s own) language, the natural way to access thinking is through language. The tool to use is the language arts. For example, to access and improve our political thinking, this language arts’ tool would have us: READ THE POLITICS, WRITE THE POLITICS, HEAR THE POLITICS, SPEAK THE POLITICS, therefore THINK THE POLITICS. This tool of language arts is useful as an aid to learn any disciplined way of thinking.

“Choose freely, live creatively, and think critically.”

What does this quote mean, in my opinion?

What are you becoming?

Choosing freely means you are choosing and accepting the responsibility of your choice. Living creatively means you are living in a way in which you are creating the meaning of life in your mind. Thinking critically means you are thinking about your thinking and assessing your thinking with good intellectual standards–clarity, relevancy, appropriateness, logicalness, etc.

As a problem-solver, citizen, parent, student, teacher, legislator, professional, or any other label one might have, the focus statement of “choose freely, live creatively, and think critically” can keep us directed toward rationality and becoming a rational person.  By rationality I mean, conforming to principles of good reasoning, showing good judgment, being sensible, logical, and relevant.

“What you are becoming is often more important than what you are accomplishing.”

What are you becoming?

Questions drive thinking?

Hopefully, a life-long learner? Yes, but what are you learning? It’s important to “become” the learner that has good intellectual traits, such as intellectual empathy, intellectual courage, intellectual humility, intellectual perseverance, and fair-mindedness. With good intellectual traits the thinker can be a life-long learner who is productive in a positive manner in a democratic society. The “becoming” is acquiring good intellectual traits and the “accomplishing” is life-long learning.

“Questions drive thinking.”

Why focus on questions instead of answers?

Asking questions is a sign of thinking. Questioning is necessary in order to keep your thinking active. Questions do not need to be asked to anyone but yourself. In fact, the goal, though not attainable in most situations, would be to answer all of your own questions.

Know yourself! Be true to yourself!

For every question you ask, ideally your mind will generate two more. Therefore, if you start with one question and pursue your line of thinking, you end with many questions. Questions are a sign of an active mind and not a sign of ignorance. Use questions to drive thinking.

Know yourself.  Be true to yourself.

Who should assess our thinking?

Ultimately, each person must assess him/herself. As you know, you don’t always have another person to assess your thinking. We must constantly work toward the time in which we will assess our own thinking and decide for ourselves its clarity, accuracy, relevancy, appropriateness, etc. Self-assessment should be done on everything that represents one’s own thinking.

When are we learning?

“Metaphorically speaking for all education, the journey is more important than the destination.”

When are we learning?

We are always learning. The question is, what are we learning? We must view our journey of life as the important time for learning and not just the end of our formal schooling as the time we are learned. Education is never-ending. It is like life, in the sense that as long as you are alive, you are also learning. The only destination is to be a life-long learner. When are you learning politics, mathematics, consumer science, language arts, science, history, current events, etc. ? ALWAYS!

H. L. Menken: "I believe in liberty. And when I say liberty, I mean the thing in its widest imaginable sense — liberty up to the extreme limits of the feasible and tolerable."

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Lastly, the following quote was recently delivered to my e-mail box by the Foundation For Critical Thinking. It is a quote from H. L. Menken about liberty. For this quote, I offer no questions or comments, but I am interested in what you think. Are you a libertarian? Are you a liberal? Are you a conservative? Do you have any thoughts regarding this quote?

Quotable Critical Thinking Quotes…
“I  believe in liberty. And when I say liberty, I mean the thing in its widest imaginable sense — liberty up to the extreme limits of the feasible and tolerable.  I am against forbidding anybody to do anything, or say anything, or think anything so long as it is at all possible to imagine a habitable world in which he would be free to do, say, and think it. The burden of proof, as I see it, is always upon the policeman, which is to say, upon the lawmaker, the theologian, the right-thinker. He must prove his case doubly, triply, quadruply, and then he must start all over and prove it again. The eye through which I view him is watery and jaundiced. He is the enemy of everything I admire and respect in this world — of everything that makes it various and amusing and charming. He impedes every honest search for the truth. He stands against every sort of good-will and common decency. I am against him until the last galoot’s ashore.”
H.L Menken, 1923

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So, why quote? To improve our quality of thought by bringing into our thinking other thoughtful points of view! OR, why not? :-)

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Should Egocentric Become A “Broken Eggocentric?”

January, 2010

TIME cover 07-08-1987 ill. depicting “We The People” re 200th anniversary of the Constitution and the ethnic diversity of the United States. Isn’t Ethnocentricity inappropriate for the United States?

Special note to my readers: This post is the result of discussions with various people about ego and the problems that arise from “having too much ego.” I have argued that the problems with “ego” is often the same as the problems of trying to be rational and egocentric at the same time. I wrote a post entitled “Should We Be Rational,” last November, where I stated that you can’t be rational and egocentric at the same time. I realize these posts on thinking can be a bit “heavy,” but hopefully, you will find them to be thoughtful. :-)

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What is egocentricity? According to the Critical Thinking Community, egocentricity is “a tendency to view everything in relationship to oneself; to confuse immediate perception (how things seem) with reality. One’s desires, values, and beliefs (seeming to be self-evidently correct or superior to those of others) are often uncritically used as the norm of all judgment and experience. Egocentricity is one of the fundamental impediments to critical thinking. As one learns to think critically in a strong sense, one learns to become more rational, and less egocentric.”

My ego is holding the world!

Is egocentricity a tendency that all humans experience? I think the answer is yes! As little children, we all are naturally egocentric. Children will often use their desires and what they believe, as a basis for all judgement and experience. They often confuse “how things seem to them” with reality. Consider how children will readily believe in Santa Claus, monsters and ghosts. The point is that all of us, because we were once children, have been egocentric. I think it is a natural part of our maturation process.

Unfortunately, many humans don’t loose their tendency toward egocentricity as they grow older and “wiser.” Why is this? I think is has a lot to do with confusing beliefs with knowledge. Knowledge is based on understanding, which is based on thought and must be justified. Beliefs do not have such conditions.

Egocentricity has at least two other forms when the concept is extended to groups – ethnocentricity and sociocetricity.

Ethnocentricity isa tendency to view one’s own race or culture as central, based on the deep-seated belief that one’s own group is superior to all others.” An example of ethnocentricity was how the whites have justified, in the past, their treatment of blacks in America and South Africa.

Socially, on this earth, it’s all about me!

Sociocentricity isthe assumption that one’s own social group is inherently and self-evidently superior to all others. When a group or society sees itself as superior, and so considers its views as correct or as the only reasonable or justifiable views, and all its actions as justified, there is a tendency to presuppose this superiority in all of its thinking and thus, to think closedmindedly. All dissent and doubt are considered disloyal and rejected without consideration. Few people recognize the sociocentric nature of much of their thought.

Examples of sociocentricity can often be found when observing interaction between different countries, city neighborhoods, political parties, religious groups, etc. Specifically, it’s not unusual for someone who is a Democrat to consider ideas from a Republican to be inferior and vice versa. It’s not unusual for a christian to proclaim that unless a person is baptized, s/he will not be saved and/or go to heaven. What does this last proclamation do for reasonableness when said to a jew or muslim? Doesn’t that christian consider her/his views as correct and therefore, superior to the beliefs of the jew or muslim? This also acts as an example of confusing what is believed with what is known.

Egocentricity, though a normal way of thinking, only serves us well when we are young. Like training wheels on a bicycle, it is something we should try to get rid of as soon as we consciously begin maturing.

You might ask, how does egocentricity serve us well when we are young? Consider a very young child who finds her/himself in a dangerous situation. That child will have a natural and egocentric tendency to save her/himself, often without any concern about others that may be in the same situation. Of course, that is appropriate since the child, most likely, wouldn’t have the strength, nor sense of self, to do otherwise. When we are young, we must “look out for ourselves” as much as possible. This is why the responsibility of raising children falls upon the adults and not the children.

From the egg to the bird – from egocentrism to broken eggocentrism!

Here is a metaphorical attempt to clarify what I mean. Think of a child as a growing chick inside of an egg. Think of the shell of the egg as the egocentric nature of a child. The shell of the egg protects the young bird until it is able to peck itself out of the egg. This is what should and must happen to all reasonable and rational humans. They should strive to “peck themselves out of the shell of egocentricity.” Only when they do, will they become rational.

Egocentricity mentally confines us like the shell physically confines the bird. It serves a good purpose while we are developing, but it must be “broken through” and discarded in order for each of us to become a rational and complete person.

We should and must mature to the point that we break the egg shell of egocentricity. Only then do we become mature rational humans. Therefore, our egocentricity will become a broken “eggocentricity!” :-)

I would appreciate a comment from you?


When Given A Choice, Why Not Use A Great Idea?

December, 2009

Is this a great idea? It’s an artist’s conception of spacecraft dropping from orbit above large crater to survey Mars by balloon (fore), re various IDEAS for future sample-return missions to the Red Planet. Date taken: 1996, Photographer: Craig Attebery

Since this is New Year’s Eve and many of us will be trying to make “New Year” changes in our lives, I thought it would be appropriate to present a post on ideas. If we are going to change, we will need ideas about what and how to change. Perhaps one of the following “great ideas” will serve you well.

I have a great idea!

——————————————————–

I have come across many great ideas during my lifetime. A few days ago, I decided to write down some of the best ones that I can remember. In fact, many of my posts start, in my mind, as a single idea. Some of those ideas are, in my opinion, “great ideas.”

Let me emphasize that these great ideas are not, necessarily, originally created by me. I have the luxury of having lived for many years and have read about, heard and/or seen ideas that have stood the “test of time.” The great ideas that I wrote down are given below in bold print.

Here is the first idea that I wrote down.

Change will happen if we act and understand that we can create our future. I have done some posts on change, the most recent was entitled, “Should” You “Want” To Change?. You may visit the post by clicking on the title.

The idea, given in the previous paragraph, is not only great, but it also encompasses most aspects of life. In other words, it is a great idea that can be used in many different times and circumstances of our lives.

Many great ideas are global ideas.

There are also some great ideas that are short and not as encompassing as the previous one. These short and great ideas are ones that I think we should keep in the back of our minds and ready for use when appropriate. Here are three examples of short great ideas:

1) Keep it simple. This idea is often written using the letters KISS. Some say that it is the acronym: K(eep) I(t) S(imple) S(tupid). I prefer to think of it as: K(eep) I(t) S(imple) S(martie) :-)

2) Get a second opinion. This idea can be used in many different ways. When we are buying, learning, problem-solving, decorating, building, creating, cooking, playing, etc., we often will benefit from getting a second opinion.

3) Talk to yourself about it. I know that many people say you shouldn’t talk to yourself. Why is that? I’m not implying that we should carry on a loud conversation with ourselves. But, talking ourselves through complicated or confusing dilemmas is a powerful way of keeping our mind actively engaged and focused. I think it is a great idea that is very much underused.

My great idea is a bright idea!

Ok, so we have great ideas that are powerful and encompassing, and we have great ideas that are short appropriate thoughts that are to be kept in the back of our minds and ready for use as needed.

Powerful and encompassing or short and appropriate; why separate them?

Good question! A great idea is just that, a great idea. I’m not going to categorize them. Now that I think of it, categorizing them was not a great idea! :-)

Here are the rest of the great ideas I wrote down, each with a brief comment. Please peruse and use!

Focus on your strengths – use them as much as you can and expect them to grow.

Reason it out – trust reason and its potential to solve problems.

Keep it clean – clean is not a dirty word ;-), clean is almost always better.

Procrastination does not exist – the only thing related to procrastination that exists is our passive choice to do nothing.

Make examples – examples help us clarify our thinking.

Refuse to quit – too often we give up and use excuses for reasons.

Consider another time – we often determine the time that causes us stress; change the time.

Different viewpoint – this helps us bring empathy to our thinking. I’ve done two posts on empathy. Click (1) and/or (2) to view.

My idea is GREAT, and now I’m AWAKE!

Becoming your best self is a choice you make – this appropriately assigns the responsibility of “becoming” and what you are becoming is often more important than what you are accomplishing.

Believe in the importance of your ideas and your ability to make them real – this enables you to believe in yourself; it helps with self-esteem and self-worth.

This last great idea brings us “full circle.” We need to believe in the importance of great ideas in order for them to be great. We should get rid of ideas that are keeping us from realizing our true potential. Never be afraid to take a great idea and outwardly declare, “I have a great idea!”

Treat great ideas like you treat your beliefs – proudly make them yours!

I’m looking forward to reading about some of your ideas. I think that would be GREAT! :-)


Quotes, Questions and Answers!

August, 2009
“There is a mysterious connection between language and thinking.”
How can we access our thinking?
Since it is difficult to think without using (one’s own) language, the natural way to access thinking is through language. The tool to use is the language arts. To access and improve our mathematical thinking we must READ THE MATH, WRITE THE MATH, HEAR THE MATH, SPEAK THE MATH, therefore THINK THE MATH. This is true for all academic learning.
“Choose freely, live creatively, and think critically.”
What does this mean?
Choosing freely means you are choosing and accepting the responsibility of your choice. Living creatively means you are living in a way in which you are creating the meaning of life in your mind. Thinking critically means you are thinking about your thinking and assessing your thinking with good intellectual standards–clarity, relevancy, appropriateness, logicalness, etc. As a problem-solver, citizen, parent, student, teacher, legislator, professional, or any other label one might have, the focus statement of “choose freely, live creatively, and think critically” can keep us directed toward rationality. By rationality I mean, conforming to principles of good reasoning, showing good judgment, being sensible, logical, and relevant.
“What you are becoming is often more important than what you are accomplishing.”
What are you becoming?
A life-long learner? Yes, but what are you learning? It is important to “become” the learner that has good intellectual traits, such as intellectual empathy, intellectual courage, intellectual humility, intellectual perseverance, and fair-mindedness. With good intellectual traits the thinker can be a life-long learner who is productive in a positive manner in a democratic society. The “becoming” is acquiring good intellectual traits and the “accomplishing” is life-long learning.
“Questions drive thinking.”
Why focus on questions instead of answers?
Asking questions is a sign of thinking. Questioning is necessary in order to keep your thinking active. Questions do not need to be asked to anyone but yourself. In fact, the goal, though not attainable in most situations, would be to answer all of your own questions. For every question you ask, ideally your mind will generate two more. Therefore, if you start with one question and pursue your line of thinking, you end with many questions. Questions are a sign of an active mind and not a sign of ignorance. Use questions to drive thinking.
“Know yourself.” “Be true to yourself.”
Who should assess our thinking?
Ultimately, each person must assess him/herself. As you know, you don’t always have another person to assess your thinking. We must constantly work toward the time in which we will assess our own thinking and decide for ourselves its clarity, accuracy, relevancy, appropriateness, etc. Self-assessment should be done on everything that represents one’s own thinking.
“Metaphorically speaking in education, the journey is more important than the destination.”
When are we learning?
We are always learning. The question is, what are we learning? We must view our journey of life as the important time for learning and not just the end of our formal schooling as the time we are learned. Education is never ending. It is like life, in the sense that as long as you are alive, you are also learning. The only destination is to be a life-long learner. When are you learning mathematics, language arts, science, history, etc. ? ALWAYS!

Note: This post contains quotes that I have been using for awhile. I am unsure if any of them are verbatim from some single source. If you know a direct source of any of them, I would appreciate a comment.

◊ Responding to “questionable” quotes. :-)question

“There is a mysterious connection between language and thinking.”

How can we access our thinking?

Since it is difficult to think without using (one’s own) language, the natural way to access thinking is through language. The tool to use is the language arts. To access and improve our mathematical thinking we must READ THE MATH, WRITE THE MATH, HEAR THE MATH, SPEAK THE MATH, therefore THINK THE MATH. This is true for all academic learning.

“Choose freely, live creatively, and think critically.”

What does this mean?

Choosing freely means you are choosing and accepting the responsibility of your choice. Living creatively means you are living in a way in which you are creating the meaning of life in your mind. Thinking critically means you are thinking about your thinking and assessing your thinking with good intellectual standards–clarity, relevancy, appropriateness, logicalness, etc. As a problem-solver, citizen, parent, student, teacher, legislator, professional, or any other label one might have, the focus statement of “choose freely, live creatively, and think critically” can keep us directed toward rationality. By rationality I mean, conforming to principles of good reasoning, showing good judgment, being sensible, logical, and relevant.

“What you are becoming is often more important than what you are accomplishing.”

What are you becoming?

A life-long learner? Yes, but what are you learning? It is important to “become” the learner that has good intellectual traits, such as intellectual empathy, intellectual courage, intellectual humility, intellectual perseverance, and fair-mindedness. With good intellectual traits the thinker can be a life-long learner who is productive in a positive manner in a democratic society. The “becoming” is acquiring good intellectual traits and the “accomplishing” is life-long learning.

“Questions drive thinking.”

Why focus on questions instead of answers?

Asking questions is a sign of thinking. Questioning is necessary in order to keep your thinking active. Questions do not need to be asked to anyone but yourself. In fact, the goal, though not attainable in most situations, would be to answer all of your own questions. For every question you ask, ideally your mind will generate two more. Therefore, if you start with one question and pursue your line of thinking, you end with many questions. Questions are a sign of an active mind and not a sign of ignorance. Use questions to drive thinking.

“Know yourself.” “Be true to yourself.”

Who should assess our thinking?

Ultimately, each person must assess him/herself. As you know, you don’t always have another person to assess your thinking. We must constantly work toward the time in which we will assess our own thinking and decide for ourselves its clarity, accuracy, relevancy, appropriateness, etc. Self-assessment should be done on everything that represents one’s own thinking.

“Metaphorically speaking in education, the journey is more important than the destination.”

When are we learning?

We are always learning. The question is, what are we learning? We must view our journey of life as the important time for learning and not just the end of our formal schooling as the time we are learned. Education is never ending. It is like life, in the sense that as long as you are alive, you are also learning. The only destination is to be a life-long learner. When are you learning mathematics, language arts, science, history, etc. ? ALWAYS!grab-small-r21


What Is Love?

May, 2009

love

A love post for today. I have been wanting to write this for some time. This post has been started and stopped more times than I can remember. I “flirted,” no pun intended, with it on Valentine’s Day, but was only able to address the subject of the day and my Valentine.

You see, I want to understand what love is from my point of view. On the surface, it seems like it should be a simple thing, but the more I think of it, the more I’m not sure. Love has so many different meanings. At least, when I looked for definitions and descriptions, I found an incredible amount of diversity. So, what is love (to me)?

Well, love is not friendship, but friendship can be a part of love. Love is not thoughtfulness, but thoughtfulness can be a part of love. Love is not tenderness, but tenderness can be a part of love. Love is not a relationship, but a relationship can be a part of love. As you can see, once I start a sentence with what love is not, I am able to say that what it isn’t, is part of what it is. Wow!

The most common antonym of love is hate. Having stated that, I believe that love is so complex that hate, as an antonym, is insufficient. If I don’t love, it doesn’t necessarily follow that I hate. If I don’t hate, it doesn’t necessarily mean that I love. This “love thing” is really hard to nail down. At last, I think I can see what Cole Porter was “getting at” when he wrote: WHAT IS THIS THING CALLED LOVE?

quest-heartLet’s approach this from a different angle, or point of view. Instead of trying to explain what love is,quest-heart I’m going to use some favorite quotes about love and then add my comments.

First, from Mark Twain.

“Love is the irresistible desire to be irresistibly desired.”

Uhmm. A desire to be desired. Yes, especially when “irresistible” is added. Love is a strong desire in humans that seems to be universal.

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Number two is from Elizabeth Browning.

“Love doesn’t make the world go round, love is what makes the ride worthwhile.”

I really like this way of viewing love. It speaks to love as something like spice is to food. Here’s another way to view it, using a food metaphor: “love is like an excellent dessert to an otherwise, average meal.”

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Number three is from George Sand.

“There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.”

This quote is insightful due to singling out love as unique in human emotion. If we would change happiness to unhappiness, then the result, no matter what other emotion we used, would not be complete.

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Number four is from the Talmud.

“Where love is, no room is too small.”

Have you ever thought about being in a room and choosing who you want with you? No matter what size the room? Uhmmmm…..

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Number five is from Dr. Seuss.

“When you are in Love you can’t fall asleep because reality is better than your dreams.”

I realize this is “metaphorically speaking,” but I think it really “hits home” regarding love. “In love” is a feeling that takes precedence over all other aspects of our life. We can’t “dream” it better. Nicely stated, Dr. Seuss.

The rest of the quotes are anonymous. I list them without comment. They are all sayings that I like and feel have value in helping us with a better answer to: What is love?

“Just because someone doesn’t love you in the way you want them to,

doesn’t mean that they don’t love you with all they’ve got. “

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“Love is friendship set on fire.”

————————————

“My love for you is a journey; 
Starting at forever, 
And ending at never.”

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“Love puts the fun in together, 
The sad in apart, 
The hope in tomorrow, 
The joy in the heart.”

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We were given: Two hands to hold. Two legs to walk. Two eyes to see. Two ears to listen. But why only one heart? Because the other was given to someone else. For us to find.

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I WOULD LOVE TO READ YOUR COMMENTS!

love-2

 

grab-small-r21


Why Make Plans?

April, 2009

plan2

Do you make plans? Do you think plans are “stupid?” I have known many who do. As a teacher, parent and friend, I have encountered many who think that plans are not necessary or just “plain stupid.” Of course, most of the people who say plans are “stupid” are not talking about plans for everyday routine items, such as, getting dressed, preparing meals, etc. No, they are saying that planning your life is useless. Why plan when you don’t have any real control over life? Why plan when things never really turn out like you planned? I’ll admit that in my own life, things never turn out exactly like I plan them. So why plan?

What do I do that never works out? Well, I plan by making a goal, breaking it down into “pieces of action,” all designed to help me accomplish my goal over a time that I have estimated. And then? Well, to put it bluntly, it doesn’t happen. So why plan?

What really happened with my goal and/or plan? Usually, when I accomplish my “much adjusted goal” and look back, I notice that some things took longer, some shorter, and frankly, some were not completed and didn’t need to be. So, why have a plan?

A plan is still important because, in my opinion, I would not have reached my goal, if I hadn’t made the plan. It’s almost like the saying, “rules are made to be broken.” In one sense, of course rules are not made to be broken, but in another sense, they are. What I mean, is that most of the time, rules are made AND consequences are established at the same time. Why have consequences, if rules are not broken? In that sense, we have an example where plans are made to be broken.

So, we need to make plans even though they will not necessarily be played out as “planned.” Think of it as life itself. Our body seems to have a plan, but it never “plays” out as planned. For example, our body has a “built-in” plan of eat, sleep, exercise, etc. and then, for example, a cold virus sets it “off-plan.” The plan has to be adjusted in order to keep us living. We do so and life continues, BUT not as originally planned. Therefore, life has a plan but it never works out as originally planned. Wow!

Now, let me make clear that I am NOT saying we shouldn’t plan. I am saying that we should expect our plan to always be faulty. A plan, even if it is faulty, still allows us to achieve our goal. In fact, a plan helps us get started toward change. One way of viewing life is as a series of changes. Life implies change. A plan can help us to not procrastinate. A plan can help us go in the direction we want to go. A plan can help us decide and be comfortable with a decision, especially, when the situation requires a quick decision.

Why make plans? Perhaps, making plans actually improves one’s quality of life. Planning for quality? Uhmmmm…

I hope you plan to comment. :-)

plan-1

grab-small-r21


Fuzzy Thinking – Is It Good Thinking?

April, 2009

fuzzy-2

When I was in college, I remember we used the word logic and how, it, was the answer to all problems. In fact, we usually restricted our arguments to the use of Aristotelian logic. Not to oversimplify, but we normally argued using a logic that offered options of good or bad, right or wrong, true or false, black or white, high or low, up or down, yea or nay, yes or no, etc. …. I was a mathematics major and this kind of logic made perfect sense. The answer is either correct or not correct. At least, that is the way most problems turned out. Of course, once in awhile, I would run into a problem, usually involving probability, that had an answer that was better than before, BUT not necessarily correct or incorrect. There would be an  answer that included an extra statement of, for example, “this answer has a 10% error margin.” So in other words, the answer has a chance of not being correct, but is correct most of the time. That is sort of “fuzzy,” isn’t it?

I read a book a few years back that was entitled, Fuzzy Thinking: The New Science Of Fuzzy Logic, by Bart Kosko. Mr. Kosko has been a leader in the field of fuzzy thinking. He, in his book, shows the value of using this kind to thinking and how, when applied to life, is most likely as valuable as Aristotelian thinking. There have been scholarly papers written showing its value. Having stated all of this, is there really any value in a “new” logic for the “regular everyday person” when Aristotelian logic has served us well for thousands of years? Well, yes, if it improves the thinking of the “regular everyday person.”

I have observed many examples of thinking that we might call “either-or” thinking. This kind of thinking is what I was referring to in the first paragraph. I think using this kind of thinking can be dangerous when it is the exclusive way of thought. Often times in life, there are “shades of gray,” instead of, “black or white.” How can we say someone is good or bad. If we say someone is good, don’t we mean that the person is good to a certain degree, but not always good?

People who use only, “either-or” thinking, cannot, OR will not, consider the complexity of most situations. Of course, we will use Aristotelian (either-or) logic to analyze something – at least, as a first analysis. After a first analysis, we generally have just that – a first of many analyses. You see, this is very much related to prejudice. Prejudice means “pre-judge,” something we all must do. YES, we all pre-judge, but we should not stop our judging with our first judgement. After all, most of the time, we are not really like a judge in a court of law, but, instead, we are more like a scientist, looking for the best solution to a problem. At least, that is the way I think we should view our thinking process.

I think that most people who want to exclusively use “either-or” thinking, are not seeing the many degrees of difference that exist between opposites, such as, good and bad, right or wrong, etc. If they did, then they would have to use complex thinking skills and not be absolutely certain about most things. When they don’t consider the “shades of gray,” they get only black or white. Even a “black and white movie film,” has shades of gray. :-)

Where do we see a lack of “fuzzy thinking” in everyday life? Look at the local or national news media. Consider the following expressions: “you’re either with us or against us,” “if you’re not a liberal then you’re a conservative,” “all ear-marks are bad,” “America – love it or leave it,” “universal health care is socialism,” “all tax cuts are good,” “big government is bad,” “government regulation of financial systems is bad,” Etc….

So, what should we do? Well, one thing to do, is to not look at our world as something that is based on “either-or” thinking. In other words, look for the complexity of the situation before deciding what to think. Be aware of your own thinking. Use critical thinking – think about your thinking, while you are thinking, and strive to make your thinking better, by using good thinking standards to assess it. Self-awareness is crucial in order to improve how you think. You must open your mind to different possibilities, so you don’t get stuck in the “either-or” world. Accept a world where, between the two poles of Aristotle, (i.e. good OR bad) there is a Fuzzy part (i.e. good AND bad).

Does this make you feel “fuzzy all over?”  :-)

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