Daily Dispatch

The Principle of Thinking

I’d like to share yet another slice of wisdom from Jordan B. Peterson’s best selling book ‘12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos’. The passage below comes from rule 9 in the book ‘Assume that the person you are listening to might know something you don’t’. Enter Peterson:

People think that they think, but it’s not true. It’s mostly self-criticism that passes for thinking. True thinking is rare – just like true listening. Thinking is listening to yourself. It’s difficult. To think, you have to be at least two people at the same time. Then you have to let those people disagree. Thinking is an internal dialogue between two or more different views of the world. Viewpoint One is an avatar in a simulated world. It has its own representations of past, present and future, and its own ideas about how to act. So do Viewpoints Two, and Three, and Four. Thinking is the process by which these internal avatars imagine and articulate their worlds to one another. You can’t set straw men against one another when you’re thinking, either, because then you’re not thinking. You’re rationalising, post-hoc. You’re matching what you want against a weak opponent so that you don’t have to change your mind. You’re propagandising. You’re using double-speak. You’re using your conclusions to justify your proofs. You’re hiding from the truth.

True Thinking is complex and demanding. It requires you to be articulate speaker and careful, judicious listener, at the same time. It involves conflict. So, you have to tolerate conflict. Conflict involves negotiation and compromise. So, you have to learn to give and take and to modify your premises and adjust your thoughts – even your perceptions of the world. Sometimes it results in the defeat and elimination of one or more internal avatar. They don’t like to be defeated or eliminated, either. They like to stay alive. They’ll fight to stay alive. You better listen to them. If you don’t they’ll go underground and turn into devils and torture you. In consequence, thinking is emotionally painful, as well as physiologically demanding; more so than anything else – except not thinking.

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