“Treat with the utmost respect your power of forming opinions, for this power alone guards you against making assumptions that are contrary to nature and judgements that overthrow the rule of reason. It enables you to learn from experience, to live in harmony with others, and to walk in the way of the gods.” (taken from The Emperor’s Handbook -Marcus Aurelius- , A new translation of The Meditations by Scot Hicks and David V. Hicks)
Please note the above quote does not say guard your opinions, but the power of forming opinions. The authors of the translation go on to talk about what controls this power and how The Meditations helps guard against foreign powers from taking over how I get my opinions. These powers can be anything, drink, love, lust, or an actual foreign power influencing you.
Again it is not our own prejudices we are guarding, although they are a real threat to living a better life, or so I believe. If we can’t with confidence evaluate how we live our lives and change as a result, we are in far deeper trouble than being manipulated.
Not that reason is the be all end all, indeed, the current modern expression of the scientific method has been co-oped by research grants controlled not by the search for reasons, but by the search for funding. Scientists can only research when there is funding. And funding rarely, if ever, rewards innovative unproven hypothesis to test. Our investigation is derivative. It must be built on something previously proven.
But I digress, the quote is about the individual guarding their own process for coming to a conclusion and forming an opinion. I doubt there is a single course of study providing guidance in this matter. Critical thinking, you say? Critical thinking is by enlarge about thinking, not protecting.
What are your defenses for guarding your process? When you write do you jump on the latest bandwagon, magic bullet for writing? I sadly don’t have an answer other than I try to:
- Record what works for me to write and then practise that process.
- Avoid ‘triggers’ that put me out of the writing flow.
- A space to write in.
Somedays I wish I could wrap myself in bubble wrap. How about you?
Today’s diatribe has been brought to you by the word ‘Trigger’ and I don’t mean the horse.