why do we think what we think?

Ideas. As I was saying yesterday, what we accept as fact or evidence depends on the appreciative system we are working in. Ideas come and go. Quite a few writers have given this a lot of thought. Bateson is one:

How do ideas interact? Is there some sort of natural selection which determines the survival of some ideas and the extinction or death of others?

This is fascinating, but the most interesting part of this for me is to explore if there is some way of peeking out of the prevailing ideas to make space for new and emerging ones, ones that don’t fit with the way you believe the world to work. Whenever I write or think something—and I generally do think quite a lot so it doesn’t feel trite—and someone presents a completely different argument, my first reaction is “Grrrrr”. But we have to step back, listen, ask questions. “Why do you think that?” “How is that different from this?”.

Mind you, when I do this, my interlocutor invariably thinks it is the beginning of a debate. “Why do you think that?” is interpreted as “Defend your position”. “How is that different from this?” is interpreted as “Prove the superiority of your view”.

What to do?

One comment

  1. Hi there
    This post reminds me of Schon’s work on ‘ideas in good currency’ and how new ‘ideas’ can come in from the margins of society especially at the point of disruption or crisis. That’s at a societal level – but you make a great point about the personal one. How do you ask questions in a way that promotes a sense of joint inquiry when the ‘norm’ is for more conflictual debate – mmm one to think about.

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