July 6, 2016 – The End of Reflection
“The End of Reflection”
“Finding moments to engage in contemplative thinking has always been a challenge, since we’re distractible.”
Nicholas Carr (1959- ) American writer
Every once in a while — but increasingly more often — some piece in the media emphasizes the themes that I am always pounding away at in these email messages. A recent example is an article in the New York Times of Sunday, June 12, 2016 (“Styles”), titled “The End of Reflection,” by Teddy Wayne.
The main point of the article is that, primarily because of the speed and brevity of contemporary communications, we are headed for “the loss of the contemplative mind,” using a term from Nicholas Carr (The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains, a book worth a look) and thus the loss of the ability to be self-reflective.
Instead we are headed for what the author terms the “Google ideal of the mind,” in which you have a simple yes/no question and a close-ended answer; no open-ended thinking in which you attempt to go wherever a thought leads you, which is a kind of thinking that our society considers “inefficient.”
Stopping, designed specifically to be an antidote to this trend, teaches that because of distractions (from speed, multi-tasking, etc.) we tend to forget our ideals, our original goals, and our true selves, and thus regularly have to stop and do nothing in order to access the truth that is deep within us, which is, in the author’s words, to have a “contemplative mind” capable of “self-reflection.”
The author ends by saying it’s hard to imagine calling Auguste Rodin’s famous sculpture,”The Thinker” (pictured above) “The Tweeter.”