Tag Archives: critical thinking

“Enlightenment and Common Sense” by Umberto Eco

UmbertoEco2

This is a short essay included in Turning Back the Clock that addresses the question: What is an enlightened thinker? While he lists several traits that are found in the modern enlightened thinker, he asserts that two essential qualities are common sense and skepticism.

While I am in complete agreement regarding Eco’s assertion about common sense, I am somewhat more skeptical when it comes to his claim on skepticism (a pun is intended here). While it is true that healthy skepticism promotes inquiry and testing of claims that are posited as fact, in the information age where a quick Google search can turn up supporting “data” for any claim, regardless of how ridiculous it may be, skepticism has opened the door to the denial of proven information that is crucial to society and humanity. The perfect example is climate change. The theory of biological imperialism asserts that a species will alter its environment to make it more conducive to its survival and comfort. It’s a hard theory to refute. If you accept this premise, then it stands to reason that humans, in modifying their surroundings, have changed the environment. When you consider this fact in conjunction with scientific evidence of changes in the climate and their connection with human activity, then our impact on climate change should be evident and not disputed. In spite of this, there is no shortage of “skeptics” who reject scientific findings and bolster their views with supporting data from “experts” in the field (often hired by corporations). And there is the problem with associating skepticism with enlightened thinking.

While I agree with 99% of what Eco asserts, I feel he is off in this area. There is a real danger in skepticism and I feel that common sense is much more important than skepticism. Hence to quote the old adage: Common sense is not all that common.

7 Comments

Filed under Literature, Non-fiction

Black Widow: Issue #7

BlackWidow_07

I liked this issue a lot. First off, it’s set in San Francisco, which is such a cool city and I have some great memories from there. Secondly, the issue includes an appearance by Matt Murdock, aka Daredevil. It is revealed that Daredevil and Natasha once had a very intimate relationship, but in typical Black Widow fashion, the details of the relationship and their split remain hidden. Lastly, the writing, artwork, and storyline are all very good and consistent with the comic series.

There is a great quote from the end of this issue that has me thinking a lot about current world events.

It’s more difficult to distinguish the good from the bad every day—and she needs people that she can trust. Because the world is full of people she can’t.

Reading this, I couldn’t help thinking about how divisive the world is nowadays and how with the plethora of information available it becomes difficult to get a clear view of a situation. We have the Russia/Ukraine conflict, Israel and Hamas, Republicans and Democrats, the list goes on. I can scan Yahoo news and read articles from different sources demonizing each side of every conflict. How can one feel certain about which side is right or wrong anymore? The lines seem to become more and more indistinguishable. For me, I try to educate myself as much as possible, to practice critical thinking, and not take anything for granted. History had demonstrated that there are always at least two sides to every story. I find it best to reserve judgment and keep an open mind.

Thanks for stopping by and keep reading.

2 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

The Danger of Not Reading Enough

OldBooksStockPhotoI woke early this morning, made some coffee, and proceeded to read some of Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour (my current read, which is very long and may be a while before I finish). Anyway, I came across a quote in the book that struck me so deeply I decided it was worth its own blog post.

Ah Stefan, give me a man or woman who has read a thousand books and you give me an interesting companion. Give me a man or woman who has read perhaps three and you give me a dangerous enemy indeed. (P. 271)

This quote sums up the root of fundamentalism and the atrocities that have historically been committed as a result. The issue is that when individuals have a narrow reading base, then they lack perspective and the ability to think critically about ideas and information. A well-read person can engage in conversation, can discuss ideas, and is generally open to views that may differ. This is not the case with individuals who may have only read a couple of books, especially if they are the kinds of books that can lead one down the path of fundamentalism and fanaticism. These people often lack the ability to consider the validity of any concept outside their narrow intellectual scope and this closed-mindedness has led to hatred, war, and persecution directed at individuals who question or contradict those views. So yes, a little bit of knowledge can be a very dangerous thing.

As I sit here, I can’t help thinking about how this same concept applies to our current news media. People watch either FOX News or MSNBC, resulting in a very one-sided view of current events. This just fuels the division between people and leads to a distrust and even a hatred of those whose ideas differ. There is only one way to break this cycle, and that is to read broadly and often, and to remain open to new ideas, even if they challenge your established paradigms. If you are reading this, then you are likely one of those well-read persons with whom I love to engage in conversation.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog, and keep on reading!

Leave a comment

Filed under Literature