CRITICAL THINKING, AND FREEDOM
To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them? William Shakespeare from Hamlet
If you want to think outside the box, the first thing is to step out of the box!
An education within a particular system it is focused in nurturing, and prop up the same system, so it is delusional to believe, you can step out of the box at the same time you want to upheld the system.
Stepping out of the box it is tantamount to destroying the system, or at least change the system, and that means Revolution, upsetting the apple cart, adopting a new course, etc. This undoubtedly will be resisted by those whose job it is to enforce the system, because they benefit from it, therefore the system would only implement measures that do not threaten the system, and if anybody who wish to change the system would be treated as the enemy you have to combat in order to keep the status quo. And that is the reason why when a system become obsolete, the great struggle it is needed to change it.
To believe you want to work for the betterment of Society, Education, Economy, Work, Health, Politics, etc. It is necessary to check the foundation of such system, if at the bottom the system is no good, or has become vicious, because only benefit an elite, and doesn’t work for the majority, the system it is no good and it need to be overthrown. And therefore the paramount factor of stepping out of the box is fear.
Fear of the uncertainty of the change, fear to become alienated from the system itself, fear of the repression from those within the system, that would try to stop you, and punish you, fear from loneliness, and incomprehension, and above all fear to lose your identity within the system, and becoming something you may not recognize, as the old self…
There it is comfort in belonging, to a group, a church, a family, a race, a Nation, therefore the need to conform, and the reason people don’t want to think outside the box!
So, by consensus, and without real challenge, mediocrity becomes the common denominator of everything, Art, Music, Movies, Politics, Religion, work, etc. Since it is product of the system, directed to the same people who are happy with the same standards, that by custom, and the habit of not being challenged turn from acceptable to mediocre, and from there, to worst, until the common denominator it is the lowest were the majority is comfortable, something too different, it is judged radical, and risky, revolutionary, incomprehensible, and therefore no good, so why bother to think outside the box?
Let’s take Education, constantly we hear in the media the unsolvable problems of Education, there is no money, there is not qualified teachers, there is not acceptable standards to measure, and qualify progress, everyone has a divergent opinion, a different solution, but when it come to the practice, things just seem to get worst, etc. But the fact is Education as we understand within the system, in it’s majority it is a fraud!
Do not misunderstand me, there is some basics like reading, and writing, a little bit of Math, Physics, Geography, History, etc. that are needed, and that are great, however soon after that our education within the system demands for as to learn a trade for our very survival as a clog of the system, machinery otherwise you become of no use to the system, a death weight, a pariah, and antisocial, a misfit, a useless part in the machinery.
So our education become the learning of a trade, where critical thinking could be useful, but only within the parameters established by the system for that particular trade, anything outside of that you will be stepping in quick sand…The system doesn’t want you to go beyond those parameters, in other words, it demands of you to stay inside of the box!
Critical thinking, in its broadest sense has been described as “purposeful reflective judgment concerning what to believe or what to do.”
The people who define Critical thinking soon they add:
“Critical” in this context does not mean “disapproval” or “negative.” There are many positive and useful uses of critical thinking, for example formulating a workable solution to a complex personal problem, deliberating as a group about what course of action to take, or analyzing the assumptions and the quality of the methods used in scientifically arriving at a reasonable level of confidence about a given hypothesis. Using strong critical thinking we might evaluate an argument, for example, as worthy of acceptance because it is valid and based on true premises. Upon reflection, a speaker may be evaluated as a credible source of knowledge on a given topic.
Critical thinking can occur whenever one judges, decides, or solves a problem; in general, whenever one must figure out what to believe or what to do, and do so in a reasonable and reflective way. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening can all be done critically or uncritically. Critical thinking is crucial to becoming a close reader and a substantive writer. Expressed most generally, critical thinking is “a way of taking up the problems of life.”
So as long as you are not in “disapproval” or “negative” and you are “positive” and willing to work “compromises” that are “reasonable” and “acceptable” you are doing some good critical thinking!
My question would be: Reasonable and acceptable to who, and for what?
To you, or to those whose business is to uphold the system in question?
And here is where we arrive to the crucible of the matter.
To be, or not to be. That is the question.
To be Free it is not a matter of consensus, but of integrity, honesty, courage, and valor. I am far from advocating radical measures or the abdication, of your role in society, or the destruction of it, regardless of the system in power, one way, or another, we all have to compromise to a relative extent to our degree of outward Freedom.
Epictetus that wise Philosopher understood that our Freedom don’t depend in our outward circumstances:
“The essence of philosophy is that a man should so live that his happiness shall depend as little as possible on external things.”
But on the Mastery of ourselves:
“No man is free who is not master of himself.”
My old Teacher Sun would quote Jean Grenier saying:
“We must renounce the World to Understand it.”
“Every Man should look for a life fit to him, but once he find it, should reject it, because there is no such a thing, as a life made to our needs. However he should search for it. In the system that Man is trap, he reason with thoughts, ideas, actions, and norms inherent in to that system, he is right in the system, so he is always tempted to feel he is on the right side of the argument, so his interlocutor! And how could be this different, if both reason within their system? They do not question the validity of the system, so why step out of it? But then the moment arrives when we are forced to confront we are tied, and trap by that system, we start living in two different planes, within the system, and outside of it. This is very painful. But once totally outside we can choose indistinctly to live between both, inside or out. THEN WE ARE FREE.”
But Free of what?
Physically we are conditioned by our body, sex, age, health, etc.
Economically we are conditioned by the money we posses, and the duties we got to fulfill in regard to the money we posses, and the obligations with regard of the things we possess, in other words we have as much freedom as we are not possessed by money, and the things in
our possession, they impose in us duties, and responsibilities, such that we cannot avoid without running in to problems.
Socially, we are bound by relationships, like family, friendship, marriage, etc.And the etiquette of such relationships, that it is difficult to walk away.
So where is that Freedom?
We can only be Free from a Subjective point of view, and that is dependent basically from an inner attitude…A estate of mind that is based in Peace, and tranquility, were the ripples of variable fortune can’t touch us. That is stepping out of the box.
The problem with our current attitude of looking for solutions to our problems from an outside perspective, were solutions are out there and no within ourselves to change, I do not deny the need for a remedy when it is in a physical level, like if you are hungry, well you look for food to eat, you are cold, you look for something warm to wear, etc. But if you are unhappy, unsatisfied, frustrated, angry, lonely, dejected, depressed, those are states of the Soul that will not be solved by outside factors , like become rich suddenly because you won the lottery and that will be the solution to every problem you got. No, our problems will not go away using convergent solutions, to a divergent problem!
We need to recognize we are emotional beings, and this is not secondary because it is subjective, therefore relative. Like if ignoring the problem it would go away! Which pretty much describe our modern thinking, a result of abandoning the functions of our right brain hemisphere, in favor of the functions of the left, seeing Man as a machine, rather than a Human being. This attitude has translated in to our modern beliefs, like one day through Science we would solve all our problems, ignoring the very fallible, and weak nature of the individual self, that we call our ego!
Let me give you an example, imagine that one day Science in the medical field is so advanced that it will make you live a thousand years, feeling like a person of twenty years of age, let’s not be negative and consider the numerous bad side effects of such breakthrough, let’s just stick to the beautiful side of such event, I do not know you, but as it is I am having lots of problem to get adequate health care mainly because it’s high cost, simply I can’t afford it, neither most of the World population!
Here a small excerpt from Idea Connection about inadequate health services:
Most conventional health care systems are becoming increasingly complex and costly and have doubtful social relevance. They have been distorted by the dictates of medical technology and by the misguided efforts of a medical industry providing medical consumer goods to society. People have become cases without personalities, and contact has been lost between those providing medical care and those receiving it. Even some of the most affluent countries have come to realize the disparity between the high care costs and low health benefits of these systems. Obviously it is out of the question for the developing countries to continue importing them.
Now do you think this hypothetical benefits of living for a thousand years would be be available free of cost? And who would benefit of such breakthrough? I think you know the answer.
E.F. Schumacher wrote:
“Human beings are highly predictable as Physicochemical systems; less so as living bodies; much less so as conscious beings; and hardly at all as self aware persons. The reason for this unpredictability does not lie in a lack of adaequatioon the part of the investigator, but in the nature of freedom. “knowledge for manipulation” is impossible, but “knowledge for understanding” is indispensable. The almost complete disappearance of the latter from Western civilization is due to nothing but the systematic neglect of traditional wisdom, of which the West has a rich store as any other part of mankind. The result of the lopsided development of the last three hundred years is that Western man has become rich in means and poor in ends. The hierarchy of his knowledge has been decapitated: his will is paralyzed because he has lost any grounds on which to base a hierarchy of values.”
Schumacher point wisely that the solutions to our problems depends less in Science, and more in regaining a Moral compass for the individual, and therefore for society in general, this moral compass depends more in a new orientation of the individual towards the World of Spirit than to the material needs of man, this doesn’t mean that we should renounce to the benefits derived from Science, but that Science by itself it is not the determinant factor of it, but Man, it’s values, and the actions he will be willing to implement, base in a priority of choosing moral good, than solely function for material gain, at the expense of our Humanity. In other words, Spiritual values count, the lack of them is what afflicts Man, and Society.
It is easy to say that we do not need Spirit to have Moral values, but the direction our society is taking it is pretty clear something is a miss, wealth, technical knowledge, had not brought us near to a better society, and the future honestly, without trying to be negative, doesn’t look as promising as fifty years ago, when after the defeat of totalitarian dictatorship of the Axis, and a new age of Scientific discoveries seemed to hold so much promise. Alas! In our postmodern age this dream has run out of fuel! Our movies the reflection of our subconscious moods they point in to a future like a post-Apocalyptic nightmare! Soylen Green, Blade Runner, The Matrix, etc. etc. Mankind is trap in a nightmare of it’s own creation!
“If people would forget about utopia! When rationalism destroyed heaven and decided to set it up here on earth, that most terrible of all goals entered human ambition. It was clear there’d be no end to what people would be made to suffer for it.”
There is such a thing as the Human condition that is prone to suffering of two types, physical, and moral, the first we can treat with drugs, however the second, we should admit that it is our ignorance on the nature of life, and the false beliefs we hold within, that bring us pain, and disappointment, the roots of our subjective suffering, and to this there is no escape, but relief from Truth, and endurance of character.However Spiritual disciplines from many Religions point to a practice that would bring Man in to a counciousness estate the Sanata Dharma from India is named SAT-CHIT-ANANDA Truth, Consciousness, and Bliss, a state where Man experience perfect balance, wisdom, and peace, producing a profound mystical bliss.
MUSHIN NO KOKORO , or Mizu no Kokoro A detached mind, (a mind like water) when a surface of water is so serene that rest like glass then it is possible for the water to reflect the Moon’s image on the surface. This in Zen Buddhism is a state of Enlightenment.
Category: Critical thinking