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Politics: The Lost Art of Thinking

“”Few men had developed their powers of correct thinking, and fewer still were willing to employ thought as a means for settling dispute.” – Patricia James (Forward to the Art of Thinking 1964)

Liberal, conservative or otherwise, the past few weeks have made your social media feed a much darker place. If you have that special Facebook friend that likes or shares every self-facing article then it is a special kind of frustration.

Fake news, bent news, and sensationalized news are your only options. I can’t even read The Economist anymore without throwing it on occasion. It is your job to determine what you will intake, and then put your mind to work.

“The Art of Thinking” was written in the seventeenth century by one of my heroes, Antoine Arnauld; a treatise he comprised most likely with the assistance of Blaise Pascal.

Arnauld was at the center of dangerous debates concerning religion and politics. A Catholic Jansenist that was chased by the Jesuits and despised by the Calvinist. Seldom did he have friends in the court of Louis XIV to protect him. He spent much time and effort making a case for the positions he held and was always in contention with some party. A man of conviction who carefully articulated his positions; he would have hated Facebook.

“The Art of Thinking” was a book used by many of the giants of philosophy that followed Arnauld: Hume, Locke, Kierkegaard, and Kant to name a few.

“Judging is the goal of all thinking,” writes Arnauld.

The purpose of the book was to allow the reader to understand how to take thoughts and turn them into judgments using reason as a form of judgment; creating order with two or more thoughts to bring correct judgment.

Arnauld goes into great detail in his book to bring us to “correct judgments”. This is a man who no doubt believed in absolutes and that we could use good thinking to make right judgments concerning faith, politics, and a life well lived.

“Precision of thought is essential to every aspect and walk of life. To distinguish truth from error is difficult not only in the sciences, but also in the everyday affairs that men engage in and discuss…everyone must pass judgments on the happenings of everyday life,” he writes.

A 400 page book with a wealth of detail to help us think well and judge well.

Facebook likes, slanted posts, 2-minute propaganda videos and screaming into cameras reveals poor thinking and does not produce good thinking. Ultimately leading to bad judgments.

My essay is not going to change what you see on CNN, FOX, and the BBC next week, but I hope it might change my Facebook feed.

Take a deep breath. Think about what is happening around you holistically. Read the intelligent documents of your enemies. Read the intelligent documents of those in your corner. Discern. Create order to the ideas and judge the proposed offerings and solutions. Then articulate those thoughts in detail and with a level head.

Posting another link from “” and “” does not show much thought and it is definitely poor judgment. You are not swaying us - you are making us laugh at you.

Even if your source is credible, WSJ, JAMA, BBC, FORBES, etc. we are most swayed by your words and effort to articulate the argument.

So please stop your Facebook liking, twitter reposting, and typing capital letters and provide us some good thinking so we have material we may critically review and come to sound judgments.

If you’re not going to do that, then please, just post pictures of your vacation, your kids if they’re cute, and what you had for dinner.


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