As I hope my last post illustrates, in general I’m less interested in staking out positions on the issues of the day than I am in uncovering the hidden assumptions that govern many of our debates. It’s not that I don’t have views — sometimes very strong views, though more often, I suppose, “extreme views weakly held” — but rather that I know there will be plenty of people out there advocating for positions I like, and not very many people looking into the terms on which the conversation is held. Sometimes debates are fruitless or even counterproductive because we’re largely unaware of the assumptions that underlie them.
So, similarly, I am less interested in staking out a position on the best ways to punish lawbreakers than I am in noting what such questions look like when one considers them from the position of power rather that the position of those on whom power will be exercised. I am less interested in evaluating the usefulness of particular algorithms than in “interrogating,” as we academics like to say, the hidden assumptions of algorithmic culture. And so on. This habit of mine, I believe, is a natural one for someone who considers himself a teacher who writes rather than a writer who teaches. I’m pedagogical through and through, I guess.
All this to explain a forthcoming project: a book called How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds, which will be published this fall by Convergent Books here in the U.S. and by a publisher in the U.K. I’ll be able to name soon. As that book comes closer to publication, I’ll move a good bit of my blogging about thinking to that site. I hope you’ll join me there from time to time.