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Good Morning Nanty Glo!

       Friday, October 29 2004 

Jon Kennedy, webmaster

Screens and filters

Having said a lot thus far about what theoretical thinking is and is not, I now turn to the nitty gritty of suggesting ways to make your whole approch to thinking more "theoretical."

Theoretical thinking is critical. This does not mean that it's negative about everything, but that it is looking beyond every surface to see what greater depths may be available in anything from a movie (to begin with our most-mentioned category), to a joke, to an essay, or even a work of art (painting, sculpture, musical composition, poem, performance).... Always ask, "what is the real intention behind this?" Does it have a subsurface message, is it intended to manipulate, to persuade, to mislead, or inspire, edify, educate?

Theoretical thinking is scientific. Does it look into all the evidence available and is it presenting that in a straightforward manner? Is it overlooking obvious logical flaws, or showing imbalance in its coverage of its territory?

Theoretical thinking is analytical. "Scholarship" is qualified by delving into all the ramifications of a theory or proposition. Does the work give every aspect of the subject due consideration?

Theoretical thinking is creative. It looks for more facets to its subject than meet the eye; it proposes new ways to see things; it's allusive (suggestive, subtle); it's fresh, but not innovative as an end in itself. Part of this is the very media it uses. Obviously in a poem, it's new ways to word things that seem already known, but a similar effort should extend to prose, the use of colors and shading in painting, the allusion to motion or kinetic energy and strength (or their opposites) in sculpture.

This recitation of some main characteristics of theoretical thought are meant to help you think theoretically about everything you approach. They are part of a a matrix for thinking about everything, which is also known as a worldview. The other major component of such a matrix is what I refer to as screens and filters. Develop a conscious presuppositional template on which you weigh every propositional thought. We speak of liberalism and conservatism frequently on this list and most of us mean in using those terms that they are simple matrixes to aid thinking or evaluate the thinking of others. They're not "labels," as often charged, but rather are systems that facilitate the establishment of attitudes on social policies and programs. They are shortcuts, and both liberals and conservatives generally have deviations from whatever is deemed the "norm"; but having a definition of these terms and having thought through which if either of them you feel pertains to you helps you immensely to cut through the tangle of competing appeals for your loyalty, funds, and votes.

Other similar matrixes are secular humanism, Christianity (at least philosophically), Taoism, a general theism, deism, materialism, and naturalism. I'm sure there are others, but these should keep us busy well through election day.

Webmaster Jon Kennedy 


There's always a lot to be thankful for if you take time to look for it. For example I am sitting here thinking how nice it is that wrinkles don't hurt.

Sent by Trudy Myers  

Thought for today

The perfection of wisdom, and the end of true philosophy, is to proportion our wants to our possessions, our ambitions to our capacities; we will then be a happy and a virtuous people.

Mark Twain  

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