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Thinking Like Aristotle


How is it that Greek philosophers remain popular in our modern world?

Why can being born 2500 years ago be a comparative advantage compared to us, even though we have inexhaustible resources of information?

Is it the art of asking questions and trying to answer them?

The informational deprivation (relative to our time) in which the Greeks lived during the era of Pericles may turn out to be an advantage. They did not have access to ready-made answers, hence the interest in deductive reasoning to get to the root of things and converge towards the truth. The essential ingredient of this approach is the open question, which one tries to answer through a logical process. What seems to be a blessing in our time can also turn out to be a calamity. When all questions are accessible at the touch of a keyboard, we can develop laziness in our way of thinking. Curiosity must be accompanied by the ability to think and question what is presented to us. When this gap develops on a large scale, it can manifest as massive adherence to misinformation (or fake news). The internet is like a huge fish market where it is easy to stock up. The problem is that we have lost the art of fishing (the art of thinking), which leads us to no longer recognize what a real fish is (a correct idea, that is, resulting from a deductive and logical process). This inability shows that intelligence does not necessarily need a lot of information to develop. Conversely, having access to a lot of information does not necessarily make us more intelligent. Another comparison is as follows: our contemporary life is like living in a city and taking the car or the bus to go to a sports training session. The possibility offered by transportation sometimes misleads us and diverts us from our initial goal. On the other hand, living in the time of Aristotle means walking everywhere to get to sports training. Even if we wanted to deviate from our initial goal, we would still be exercising. Of course, having all the information in the world is certainly an advantage if it is combined with the habit of thinking and not suffering from indoctrination that prevents us from questioning our certainties. We may have all the knowledge at our fingertips, but if our mind is obtuse, doctrinal, or bigoted, we would not know what to do with these treasures. It is not enough to have a well-stocked buffet of all kinds of delicacies; we must also have the hunger (the desire to find the truth), the discernment to choose what is good for us, and the ability to digest exceptional dishes.

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