TED curator Chris Anderson shares his obsession with questions that no one (yet) knows the answers to. A short intro leads into two questions: Why can’t we see evidence of alien life? And how many universes are there? Click through to watch this Ted Talk.
How many times do you stop yourself and question why you think like you do? The most common response is ‘hardly ever’. It’s usually not until someone challenges us directly on why we think, or act, like we do that we actually stop to give it some thought. In our household our children are developing their own critical thinking skills and it is them that question us on the logic behind our thoughts. There are so many books on the market that explore logic, mindsets, and reasoning so we thought we’d share six of the newest titles on the market.
The Critical Thinking Toolkit by Galen Foresman
Okay, so this one is a textbook, but boy is it a good one. The Critical Thinking Toolkit is a comprehensive compendium that equips readers with the essential knowledge and methods for clear, analytical, logical thinking and critique in a range of scholarly contexts and everyday situations. It takes an expansive approach to critical thinking by exploring concepts from other disciplines, including evidence and justification from philosophy, cognitive biases and errors from psychology, race and gender from sociology and political science, and tropes and symbols from rhetoric Written in an accessible way, this book leads readers through terrain too often cluttered with jargon Ideal for beginning to advanced students, as well as general readers, looking for a sophisticated yet accessible introduction to critical thinking.
The Art of Logic by Eugenia Cheng
Emotions are powerful. In newspaper headlines and on social media, they have become the primary way of understanding the world. But strong feelings make it more difficult to see the reality behind the rhetoric. In The Art of Logic, Eugenia Cheng shows how mathematical logic can help us see things more clearly and know when politicians and companies are trying to mislead us. First Cheng explains how to use black-and-white logic to illuminate the world around us, giving us new insight into thorny political questions like public healthcare, Black Lives Matter and Brexit. Then she explains how logic and emotions, used side-by-side, can help us not only to be more rational individuals, but also to live more thoughtfully. Filled with useful real-life examples of logic and illogic at work The Art of Logic is an essential guide to decoding modern life.
Livewired by David Eagleman
How can a blind person learn to see with her tongue or a deaf person learn to hear with his skin? What does a baby born without a nose tell us about our sensory machinery? Might we someday control a robot with our thoughts? And what does any of this have to do with why we dream? The answers to these questions are not right in front of our eyes; they’re right behind our eyes. This book is not simply about what the brain is, but what it does. Covering decades of research to the present day, Livewired also presents new findings from Eagleman’s own research, including new discoveries in synaesthesia, dreaming and wearable neurotech devices that revolutionise how we think about the senses.
The Miniature Guide To Critical Thinking Through Concepts and Tools by Richard Paul and Linda Elder
Sometimes you just need a mini-little-book to give you the gist of something rather than a giant textbook. So here’s a gem of a miniature guide that does just that. This miniature guide, which has sold more than half a million copies, and is widely used in teaching and learning for both personal and professional lives. It distills the essence of critical thinking into a 24-page, pocket-sized guide and introduces the interrelated complex of critical thinking concepts and principles implicit in the works of Richard Paul and Linda Elder.
The Beginner’s Guide to Stoicism: Tools for Emotional Resilience and Positivity by Matthew Van Natta
Optimize joy, overcome obstacles-discover the calm of stoicism. Being a stoic means embracing positivity and self-control through the ability to accept the uncertainty of outcomes. With this stoicism guide, the beginner stoic will learn how to take charge of their emotions on the path to sustained happiness and satisfaction.
This easy-to-navigate stoicism guide gives you the emotional tools needed to let go of the things you can’t control and find joy in what you have. Through thought-provoking strategies and exercises, this book helps you find contentment so you can build closer relationships and become an active member of society. This book explores the evolution and history of stoicism and how its principles can help you find peace.
Using Questions To Think by Nathan Dickman
Our ability to think, argue and reason is determined by our ability to question. Questions are a vital component of critical thinking, yet we underestimate the role they play. Using Questions to Think puts questioning back in the spotlight. Naming the parts of questions at the same time as we name parts of thought, this one-of-a-kind introduction allows us to see how questions relate to the definitions of propositions, premises, conclusions, and the validity of arguments. Why is this important? Making the role of questions visible in thinking reasoning and dialogue, allows us to ask better questions, improve our capability to understand an argument, exercise vigilance in the act of questioning, make explicit what you already know implicitly, engage with ideas that contradict our own and see ideas in broader context.
Breathing new life into our current approach to critical thinking, this practical, much-needed textbook moves us away from the traditional focus on formal argument and fallacy identification, combines the Kantian critique of reason with Hans-Georg Gadamer’s hermeneutics and reminds us why thinking can only be understood as an answer to a question.
Philosophy considers Life’s Big Ideas – truth, reality, morals, ethics, existence of God. It is an important intellectual pursuit – but is often associated with dead white males, academic stuffiness and difficult abstraction. Luckily, many philosophers work hard at demystifying philosophy for the general public. These popular philosophy works contextualise philosophy within the modern world, showing their relevance to everyday issues and challenging our values. Some recent bestselling philosophy titles include:
The Course of Love by Alain de Botton
The instant success of Alain De Botton’s latest book confirms his status as philosopher du jour. Part-fiction, part-meditation and part-instruction, The Course of Love is about Rabih, a Beirut-born architect, and Kirsten, a Scottish surveyor. We follow their relationship for 14 years – through courtship, marriage, children, domesticity and infidelity. Popping the bubble of the “happily ever after”, Rabih and Kirsten’s story is interspersed with playful, sometimes snarky musings that analyse the reasons behind their actions, and wittily capture what love, sex and relationships mean today. Sure to resonate with anyone who has ever been in a romantic relationship, The Course of Love is the long-awaited sequel to Essays in Love (known as On Love in the US), which follows and analyses a love affair from its ecstatic beginning to its despairing end.
A Little History of Philosophy by Nigel Warburton
Nigel Warburton is an academic with a knack for clarifying complex ideas – a skill he uses, to great acclaim, for popularising philosophy. His first book, Philosophy: the Basics, is now a classic primer on the topic; he is also the creator of the successful Philosophy Bites podcasts. A Little History of Philosophy is a very readable overview of Western philosophical thought from Socrates to Singer. Each of its 40 short chapters uses a key philosophical question – How do I know what’s real? What does it mean to be free? – to introduce the work of a major philosopher. With a mix of explanation and anecdotes, A Little History of Philosophy is a witty, entertaining book suitable for both inquisitive youngsters and adults.
Thinking of Answers by A. C. Grayling
A.C. Grayling relishes in the role of public intellectual, because he believes that philosophy can help us think through questions that arise in everyday life. Thinking of Answers, a collection of recent writings for publications including The Times, New Statesman and New Scientist, exemplifies his approach. Each essay is a response to a question posed by readers and editors, such as “can money ever be an end in itself?”, and “is friendship the highest form of human relationship?”. These fascinating, tricky questions cover topics as diverse as beauty, sport, Darwinism and travelling. Not only do these responses offer a framework for dealing with life’s tough questions, they are an education in themselves – A.C. Grayling is extremely well-read, and his allusions to literature, history, science (and everything else!) will have you google-hopping from one reference to another.
The Most Good You Can Do: How Effective Altruism is Changing Ideas about Living Ethically by Peter Singer
Described by New Yorker magazine as “the most influential living philosopher”, Peter Singer has been influencing our moral and ethical thinking for over 40 years, through seminal works such as Animal Liberation. The Most Good You Can Do discusses effective altruism, a social movement that encourages followers to do the most good they can. This has two main components – maximising the time and money we can offer, and determining how to achieve the maximum benefit from these resources (such as by choosing the most effective charitable causes). Using a number of case studies, Peter Singer shows that effective altruism can bring greater meaning and fulfilment in our lives, while making a real difference in alleviating extreme poverty.
Reclaiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World by John Shelby Spong
John Shelby Spong is a retired bishop who has been both praised and condemned for his progressive, reformist views on Christianity. The title of this book captures his philosophy perfectly – he argues that current approaches to Christian faith, with its emphasis on a supernatural God and a preference for literal interpretations of the Bible, can no longer be reconciled with our current (scientific) understanding of the world. Instead Bishop Spong advocates a more analytical approach, common among bible scholars but often frowned upon in congregations. Reclaiming the Bible for a Non-Religious World is John Shelby Spong’s guide to the origin, context and meaning of the Bible, book-by-book from Genesis to Revelations. Its critical analysis and fresh insights help guide readers towards their own understanding and engagement with Christianity.