Wednesday, August 25, 2010

David Brooks on Mental Courage

David Brooks in the NYT today, "A Case of Mental Courage", once again uses contemporary cognitive science, mixed with older ideas of character, to ask us to step away from our tendency to have great faith in our personal opinions. In contemporary terms, he asks us to use "metacognition". Be forewarned, Brooks relates a horrific tale at the beginning of the piece to demonstrate the commitment to truth and honesty held by at least some of our forbearers. His point, properly tempered by reference to what's good in our contemporary culture, is valid, especially in politics (and one might add about any other field of human knowledge). Compare this article, by the way, with my recent cites to Lerner & Thaler. Also, note how his line of thinking melds into virtue ethics (see Haidt "The New Science of Morality", which deserves its own post), as well as Buddhist and ancient Western thought (Stoics, Epicureans, and early Christian ascetics). Some gold there.

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