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Deep Thinking Principles

2 min

A manifesto for deep thinkers.

Thinking well is a skill and set of values

Like any skill it takes practice. We all have an 'inquiring system' that shapes how we make sense of our experience. We must, as Otto Laske urges, engage the effort of the concept. We must train our intellect and how we make sense.  

Sensemaking is hard

Sensemaking is the process of giving meaning to our experiences individually and collectively. We are living during a meaning crisis where our ability to make sense together and construct coherent narratives for how to live has broken down. If we want to have any sovereignty in our lives we must not be passive recipients of shoddy narratives. We must bring earnestness and sincerity to making sense in ways that are life-giving, while recognizing the difficulty and vulnerability inherent in not knowing what to do.

Conversation is a foundational aspect of being human and is something we all must train in

We are swimming in conversation. Our internal conversations, our conversations with friends and family, and the wider conversations that define the cultures we are in. Being a competent and effective speaker and listener is essential if we are to have a sense of integrity and coherence in our lives.

Hyper-specialization is misguided

We should not artificially restrict our identities and passions. We should all strive to be polymaths. You don't need to find the "One Thing" to be about. In the words of Whitman, "I am large, I contain multitudes".

Multiplicity of mind

The mind is better understood as a collection of sub-personalities than as one discrete entity. This in part explains why trying to reduce ourselves to one, non-contradictory identity is misguided. A healthy self is one that is complex and varied with a range of interests and modes of being.

Dialectical thinking is a necessary competence

There are foundational and irresolvable existential tensions that come with being human. Tensions between autonomy and interdependence, thoughtfulness and decisiveness, optimism and realism, kindness and hard truths. We must develop the capacity to hold two conflicting ideas or desires simultaneously and be comfortable holding the tension long enough for something new to arise.

Deep thinking without skillful action is inert

Deep thinkers often get stuck in a byzantine complex in their minds and struggle to bridge their profound insights to the minds of others. They tend to be over-indexed with their intelligence, and under-indexed in their capacity to take consistent and effective action. As deep thinkers we must cultivate the power to get things done.

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