Friday, April 14, 2017

Book Review: Skilful Thinking

 'Skilful Thinking - An Introduction to Philosophical Skills' edited by GJ Rossouw, is to guide people in better understanding philosophical texts. The book begins by describing the basic attitude we need, as well as the virtues required to allow critical and creative thinking to develop. Quite applicable to present world, intellectual tolerance, as well as fairness and honesty of thought, are specified as some of the necessary attributes.
Discuusion then veers around the essential need of thinking clearly - unambiguous, neat, simple words. Specifics of appreciating philosophical texts with good comprehension are then covered. For example  "If one studies the work, of say, a philosopher, the first question one asks oneself is: “What problem is he trying to solve?” This may sound obvious, but in my experience most students of philosophy are not taught to ask this question and do not think to ask it themselves.
Rather they ask: “What is he trying to say?” As a result they commonly have the experience of thinking they understand what he is saying without seeing the point of saying it."
An insight is given into the salient features of reading philosophical text, which consists of, identification of the subject, relating that to oneself, costructing on one's own, the arguements, and ctitically evaluating it. Reader is then made aware of the many fallacies that can creep in, like hasty generalization, inadequate evidence, etc.
This is an excellent discussion of learning in general, which I wish I read much earlier! Very simple, elegant expressions convey the essence of book, quite effectively. For example, while reminding the reader of the importance of beginning a work, the author says, "It is simply the case that a half-finished task is a better motivator than a task on which you have not yet begun". Another very useful thought with holistic appeal is to establish the good things to do, as habits. Still another gem is, "Making your intention known aloud and in public strengthens your motivation and commitment because you know that other people now have certain expectations of you".
Anyone and everyone can truly benefit from this book.

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