Thinking Your Way to Freedom: A Guide to Owning Your Own Practical Reasoning

Thinking Your Way to Freedom: A Guide to Owning Your Own Practical Reasoning

Thinking Your Way to Freedom: A Guide to Owning Your Own Practical Reasoning

Thinking Your Way to Freedom: A Guide to Owning Your Own Practical Reasoning

Excerpt

How is it possible that even though what we do has lifelong implications for ourselves as individuals, for our loved ones, and for the communities of which we are members, so little of our formal education focuses on analyzing, let alone upgrading, our practical reasoning—the reasoning that leads to action? Why is this the case?

The answer may lie in the fact that most of us assume that we humans are free in the sense of being self-legislating because of our power of thinking per se. This belief is false. Although the emergence of symbolic language has moved humans out of the frying pan of strict “conditioning,” it has flipped us into the fire of psychological and sociological determinism. With the emergence of linguistic deductive reasoning, outside sources gained the ability to implant values directly into the heads of others. And the fact that rebellion often results when outside sources conflict is no more indicative of freedom than a dog suddenly refusing to jump through a hoop because it had been reinforced by another trainer not to leave the ground.

However, we need not be blindly subjected to one another's invisible linguistic “conditioning.” Self-legislation is possible, but it requires that we take control of our own practical reasoning. This is not to say that one must simply learn how to supply oneself with reasons. If autonomy is the goal, then there is a certain kind of reasoning that must be mastered: the kind that neutralizes outside influence or bias. After all, to be autonomous means that one can make decisions by . . .

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