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Thinking Like Aristotle


How is it that Greek philosophers are still popular in our modern world? Why is it that being born 2500 years ago can be a comparative advantage over us, even though we have inexhaustible resources of information?

The art of asking questions and trying to answer them

The informational deprivation (relatively speaking, compared to our time) in which the ancient Greeks were immersed can prove to be an advantage. They did not have access to ready-made answers, hence the interest in using deductive reasoning to get to the root of things and converge towards the truth. The essential ingredient of this approach is the open-ended question that one tries to answer by a logical process.

What seems to be a blessing in our time can also turn out to be a calamity

When all the questions are available at the keyboard, we can become lazy in our thinking. Being curious must be accompanied by an ability to reflect and question what is presented to us. When this deficiency develops on a large scale, it can appear in broad daylight in the form of massive adhesion to infox (or fake news).

The Internet is a kind of huge fish market where it is easy to get information. The problem is that we have lost the art of fishing (the art of thinking), which leads us to no longer know how to recognize what is a real fish (a correct idea, i.e. 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, in some cases the opposite is true.

Another comparison is the following: our contemporary life is like living in a city and taking the car or the bus to go to a sports practice. The possibility of transportation sometimes distracts us from our original goal. Conversely, living in Aristotle’s time means walking to and from sports. Even if we wanted to turn away from our initial goal, we would still be doing sports.

Of course, having all the information in the world is certainly an advantage if it is associated with the habit of thinking and suffering from a primary 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 know what to do with these treasures. It is not enough to have a buffet full of all kinds of food, we must also have hunger, the discernment to choose what is good for us and the capacity to digest exceptional dishes.

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