Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Deep and Shallow thinking and Practical Action

Rationality is probably all we've got. But in a world of confusing surface phenomena, where so much sparkles at us and demands our attention, critical rationality can sometimes find itself passed over in favour of a 'this is cool! live in the moment' philosophy. At its most pernicious, such a philosophy will ground itself in a gently or event delightfully confused relativist philosophy, which embrace multiple narratives as a way of escaping the challenge of seriously exploring the relationship between deep rational judgements and collective coordinated action.

Deep thinking means turning everything into questions. Ultimately, it results in taking a rationally justifiable position. If such a position is sufficiently warranted, and it is taught well (now there's the real challenge), then some sort of coordinated action is possible. This is my position.

Shallow thinking often involves thinking strategically. It works with simulacra of rational justifiability. It seeks to persuade others into coordinated action through guile and self-interest. Coordinated action is indeed possible - but those who coordinate it know deep down that it will only serve its own purpose (and possibly theirs). It cannot escape some hint of cynicism.

Most work in E-learning falls into the second category. Indeed, most work on social policy. Any branch of inquiry which cannot ask certain questions is inevitably heading this way. But I believe deep thinking is necessary. How can it be made more possible?

Isn't this the job of Universities??

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