A bricklayer needs learned skills to complete a task. A skillset, be it a bricklayer or brain surgeon takes time to learn and develop. Our thought processes, the way we think, decisions we make, are a skillset we learn from infancy. The way we think, how we think define us as individuals. Thinking is important to human life, determining friendships, beliefs and our role in society. Thinking, pondering the how, the where, what and why of existence or musing over what to have for lunch are both critical to our species, giving us freedom of belief and choice.
Freedom of choice, one would think allows us free will. Yet nothing is further from the truth. We certainly have free will, yet we seldom express it. The reason is pure and simple, our emotions sway, if not actually dictate, our thought processes. There is absolutely nothing wrong with emotion playing a part in how we process our thoughts, in our decision making, as long as we acknowledge, and understand their role.
Your chosen religion, for example, is an environmental choice, one made in comfort of your exposure. 99 percent of Christians are Christians for no other reason than their upbringing. Regardless of your belief systems this is simply true. Very few people give thought to other philosophies, cultures and religions outside their upbringing when choosing a religion to practice. Indeed, it’s not really a choice, it just is that you are what your parents raised you to be.
Upbringing is but one factor in defining your thinking process. Another is emotion. Our ability, for the most part, to process facts and information, to arrive at a conclusion, are dictated by our emotional state which often lead to certain feelings on any given subject. For clarification, anger, sadness, happiness, fear are all emotions. They come, live for a short time, and subside. Feelings like love, hate, friendships, social and political views stay with the majority of us our entire lives. Both are important in how we process our thoughts.
So is reason. The ability to sort out facts from information we have, the ability to apply and compare new facts with that information, and the ability to arrive at new conclusions, or better justify our old conclusions.
Reason, the underlying hinge pin of great thinking and scientific accomplishment. The ability to know to not cross a street when it’s full of cars zipping by at ninety miles an hour. We all possess that which separates us from all other living things on our planet. All of us have the potential to find truth in facts, old and new. Unfortunately, the ability to reason is often influenced by emotion and feeling.
You can prove a black man is just as intelligent as a white man, but a racist won’t accept it based on his emotions and feelings.
Critical thinking, the ability to arrive at a semblance of truth acceptable to a majority of people and the ability to change that truth with the introduction of new facts, is not practiced by a majority of people.
Simple reasoning, we all have. We know better to cross a busy street, but anything that a common man actually has to give some thought to, we just don’t!
Why? Because doing so might change how we feel about something. Doing so might conflict with our upbringing.
We live in a time where we are constantly bombarded by what others want us to believe. Mainstream news, various websites, social media all want our attention, and they attract that attention by appealing to our base instincts, our gut emotions. We also live in a time where information is available to all. The truth is out there, we can actually know truth, but very few of us care about truth.
We rather rejoice in the righteous of our beliefs, and the most disturbing fact of all, most of us are aware of this fact.