Honing your Critical Thinking Skills – UPDATED

The other day I linked to my most recent piece at Pajamas Media, which looked at the illogical responses we too-often see when a news report does not match someone’s world view.

Impressively, within hours – literally hours – of my piece being posted, the erudite Roger Kimball jumped off of it with a huge, and hugely entertaining and enlightening piece which of course is much smarter than anything I had to say, and much more elegantly said.

Nietzsche clung to honesty after abandoning the other virtues because it allowed him to fashion the most ruthless instrument of interrogation imaginable. Difficulty, not truth, became his criterion of value. Thus he embraced the horrifying idea of the Eternal Recurrence primarily because he considered it “the hardest possible thought”—whether it was also true didn’t really matter.

Nietzsche opposed honesty to truth. He looked to art as a “countermovement to nihilism” not because he thought that art could furnish us with the truth but because it accustomed us to living openly with untruth. Ultimately, Nietzsche’s ideal asks us to transform our life into a work of art. Accepting Schopenhauer’s inversion of the traditional image of man, Nietzsche no longer finds human life dignified in itself: if man is essentially an expression of irrational will, then in himself he is morally worthless.
[...]
It is an axiom of criticism that the extent of our disillusionment is a reliable index of our wisdom: the idea that somehow the less we believe the more enlightened we are. There is, however, an curious irony here. For there is an important sense in which philosophy must contribute to the reduction of human experience. At least, it must begin by contributing to it, and this for the same reason that philosophy cannot proceed without a large element of doubt. There is something essentially corrosive about the probing glance of philosophy: something essentially dis-illusioning. If our goal is a human understanding of the world, then the activity of philosophy must itself be part of what philosophy investigates and criticizes.

Yeah – there’s 6800 words of that, written with lightening speed and yet somehow fully coherent, cohesive and convincing. You’ll want to print it out and take your time with it, or at least I had to, but then, as you know, I’m not that smart.

Kimball also tells The NY Times Book Review folks what’s what.

UPDATE: I don’t know how I missed it but Wretchard at Belmont Club (Richard Fernandez) is now at Pajamas Media, too, and he’s also talking about asymmetrical information!.

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  • http://www.justgrits.wordpress.com Obis_Sister

    Yep, I caught the Roger Kimbell piece not long after yours. It was delightful – it must have sprung, fully-formed, out of his forehead after reading your article!

    I just love this stuff. WFB must be giggling with glee right now…

  • orlin

    Anyone that believes what Nietzsche says is, IMO, not right in the head, I say. Sorry for those critical, but honest, words Roger. And thanks for the post Anchoress…

  • http://www.spiritualthingsmatter.com Viola Jaynes

    Anchoress, I will print that out in just a second here…since I also want to sit and think about it. This is very interesting to me. Thank you for sharing this.

  • http://itaintthemustard.com rhbee1

    ’tis much like dropping into someone’s conversation, this blogging thing. I was at the New Zealand Conservative blog looking for what they might have to say about the Zimbabwe situation and instead came upon your comment there and pursued it here.

    I have great faith in serendipity, so since last night as the wife was scanning through the TV offerings one last time before nodding off, she came upon a Ben Stein interview on Glenn Beck. I have to believe is there was a JC, he would have loved to turn those two marketeers out, too.

    Meanwhile, back to your site, and its religious and philosophical underpinnings.

    “Thus he embraced the horrifying idea of the Eternal Recurrence primarily because he considered it “the hardest possible thought”—whether it was also true didn’t really matter.”

    Whether it was true or not?

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  • gs

    Impressively, within hours – literally hours – of my piece being posted, the erudite Roger Kimball jumped off of it with a huge, and hugely entertaining and enlightening piece which of course is much smarter than anything I had to say, and much more elegantly said.

    You used your toolkit to better effect than Kimball used his.


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