Too Little Real Thinking Everyday


Last week when I was re-watching an interview of a highly respectful Chinese historian who is already 92 years old right now, I suddenly realize that how little real thinking I do everyday.

In his words, intellectuals nowdays are becoming "cyber-intellectuals" who are good at searching and compiling information, but not generating original thinking. Reflecing on my own life, even though I am at a position where I am supposed to generate original thinking, I have to admit that I never did that during the first 6-month of PhD life up to now. Yes, I do take courses, do homework, go to seminars, and work on research projects. They are not easy of course, and require hard work and me "thinking" about the problems. But they are not original. What I do is just learning the technique, listen to other scholars' research idea, try to internalize these things and use them in the future. These learnings are of no doubt very important, but there's something missing there.

What would be a real original thinker looks like? She must be a sophisticated combination of the past, present and future.

She has a thorough and systematic understanding about the development of human history, grasping the major forces of this process and knowing what makes herself, makes the people around her, make the world as it is today. Her understanding can be imperfect, but it's flexible and is always ready to absorb new ideas.

She is deeply rooted in the present world, extremely sensitive on what's happening around her. She is observant, able to find subtleness and deeper meaning of the seemingly normal everyday life. She is also engaging, happy to join a random street singing with her girl friend, which she thinks may be the real reason of living a life. She may have a specialized profession, but she uses it as the road to allow her thinking to reach the broader world.

The understanding of the past and the present leads to her vision to the future. Her deep understanding about human history and human themselves, are fused with her observation and theorization of the present world, forming the light she sees in the future generations, and the history that is yet to come. She can see things which she didn't see before. The sharpness, depth and the power of her thinking is so strong and can thus penetrating into the future and never fades out.

Her thinking makes human understand themselves better, and see the hope and a clear path to a future that may not be bright, but surely with determination and love. When people think about her, they feel power and strength, but also warmth and caring...

This is the ideal thinker in my mind that I would strive to become.

To achieve this, the first little action I can take is to make writing as a habit. No matter what I write, try to come up with some origional ideas everyday. It can be thinking about a company, current issue or even confusion I have in mind. This can help remind me of the real final objective and force myself to truly make "thinking" as a habit.

Consume less information, think more.

© Zhiwei (Berry) Wang.RSS