Sunday, July 22, 2007

Enough thinking already!?

An amusing article in The New York Times by Elaine Sciolino entitled "New Leaders Say Pensive French Think Too Much" quotes new French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde as saying "Enough thinking, already. Roll up your sleeves."
... in the government of President Nicolas Sarkozy, thinking has lost its cachet.

In proposing a tax-cut law last week, Finance Minister Christine Lagarde bluntly advised the French people to abandon their "old national habit."

"France is a country that thinks," she told the National Assembly. "There is hardly an ideology that we haven't turned into a theory. We have in our libraries enough to talk about for centuries to come. This is why I would like to tell you: Enough thinking, already. Roll up your sleeves."

Something to think about... Is modern society really suffering from an excess of thinking? Or, is there simply a surplus of "bad" thinking and a deficit of "good" thinking? Should we as a society put a greater focus on putting past philosophical works into "practice" before we needlessly expend effort on "thinking" that may not be going in useful directions relative to current social issues?

I would simply make the point that the really important thing is not to teach people specific philosophies, but to teach them how to think in a philosophical manner so that they have the necessary philosophical skills to evaluate new ideologies and political beliefs as they come along.

Philosophy has gotten a got rap over the years (decades, centuries, and millennia), some of it well-deserved, but a lot of it way off base. Yes, action is greatly valued by society, and deservedly so, but lack of clear thinking is usually the root cause of actions which resulted in very poor outcomes.

Give philosophers break... they are really our only hope for getting society on track to a sane future.

The good philosophers, that is. The bad philosophers should have their thinking caps confiscated and be ordered to roll up their sleeves and do some real work for a change.

-- Jack Krupansky


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