Careful Thinking

The university is supposed to be the institution in society where careful thinking is the norm. Ask yourself, therefore, how often you sit down and think carefully about something. Perhaps more importantly, instead of just assuming that this is something you do, try to describe what “careful thought” means for you in practice. What activities does it typically involve? What does it feel like? How do you know that you’ve been thinking carefully for the past 10, 30 or 60 minutes?

Does it require equipment of any kind? Is it something that you associate with other activities like reading and writing? If so, why?

What occasions force you think carefully about something? How often do they arise?

Also, what are the typical consequences of careful thought? Does it generate ideas or beliefs? Does it undermine your previously held beliefs? Do you associate “thinking carefully” with “changing your mind” or with “coming up with something to say”?

Finally, does your position as an academic support your ability to think carefully? Turning this question back on yourself: have you made optimal use of your conditions to foster care in your thinking? Have you organized your work to allow you to consider matters of concern to you and your peers in careful and thoughtful manner?

Lots of questions. I’ll take up some possible answers in subsequent posts.

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