Thinking is a conversation that the soul has with itself

Dwight, this made me think of you:

I take my cue from something Socrates says in the dialogue Theaetetus. “Thinking,” he says, “is a conversation that the soul has with itself”(189E). Let me approach what Socrates says by saying what writing at St. John’s is not. Writing for us is neither a technique to be mastered nor a vehicle for self-expression. It is not for the sake of “arguing a thesis” (the written version of debate), although to be sure our students are expected to give reasons for what they think and say. In former days the senior essay, the culmination of the student’s four years of learning, was called a senior thesis, but that misnomer was emended to the term “essay,” whose French origin in the verb essayer points to writing as above all an intellectual effort, attempt and even risk. Nor does writing at St. John’s ever take the form of the research paper. Students read and discuss primary sources exclusively and are encouraged to think things out for themselves in the company of the very greatest authors. To return to Socrates, if thinking is a conversation that the soul has with itself — if our inner private thinking mirrors the sort of thinking that goes on in serious conversation with others — then writing is the natural outgrowth of this inner “talk.” And if serious conversation with others is essentially a joint inquiry, then writing, as the shaped record of our inner talk, is also an inquiry. We write in order to learn.

/via GBQuarterly

I am still upset that I didn’t discover St. Johns until after it found you. Though, I can’t complain too much since I had the opportunity to discover Kimberly instead.

One of these days, I still want to do our best to recreate St. Johns online with a community of dedicated and curious folk.


Grandfather Paradox

I do not care much for science-fiction.

But, I have recently discovered that I deeply appreciate the fiction writings of futurists who use fiction to explore what happens when we “play out” some of the current ideas and patterns 20, 60, 200 years into the future.

I appreciate what Warren Ellis, Peter Watts, and Dan Hon are up to.

Who else should I be giving some attention to?

[ photo via Scientific American ]

Leave it Where You Want to Begin

One of my practices right now is to begin my day on a blank page. Or, more specifically, a blank screen. I finally realized that beginning my day in the urgent mode of triaging my many inboxes destroys my chances of getting into the important mode of setting goals for the day. After several weeks of practice, I have successfully formed the habit. But my form is still bad. It takes a couple minutes of closing windows, (and being distracted by the content), before achieving tabula rasa.

So, now I am adjusting my behavior further by making it a point to close my computer in the state I want to open it in.

I’m pretty sure we can find ways to apply this to other areas of our lives.

Apparently 1 small step is better than 0 huge steps

Profound huh?

Of course it isn’t. That’s just simple math, or physics, or something. Whatever it is, it isn’t deep. But, I needed to say it out loud to myself.

I’ve been sitting on a blog post for 3 days now, because I’m trying to say too much. It has three parts, and each part has 3 main points and a follow up question with a chart. Well, not really, but it feels like that is what it is becoming. It also feels likes something I want to avoid. Which is sad, because when I wrote down the draft title, I couldn’t wait to write it.

Time to split that post into three smaller ones. Did I mention I’m addicted to iteration?