Sunday, November 8, 2015

Be Attentive

Many mistakes in reasoning are explained by the fact that we are not paying sufficient attention to the situation in which we find ourselves. This is especially true in familiar situations. That very familiarity causes us to make careless judgments about facts right before our eyes. We misread a situation because we are skimming it, when what we should be doing is persuing it. Often, we assume that a familiar situation will be but a repeat performance of a similar situation we've experienced before. But, in the strictest sense, there are no repeat performances. Every situation is unique, and we must be alert to its uniqueness.
The phrase 'to pay attention' is telling. It reminds us that attention costs something. Attention demands an attentive, energetic response to every situation, to the persons, places, and things that make up the situation. It is impossible to be truly attentive and passive at the same time. Don't just look, see. Don't just hear, listen. Train yourself to focus on details. The little things are not to be ignored, for it is just the little things that lead us to the big things. 
-D.Q. McInerny, Being Logical: A Guide to Good Thinking, p. 3.

We were blessed to read through this book in the first year of the Zaytuna seminary program with Imam Zaid, alhamdullilah.

Good training in logic and critical reasoning is essential to building independent people who think for themselves and are not just 'groupies.' Being critical doesn't have to mean having bad adab.

We should make sure we have spaces in which dissent and disagreement and alternative viewpoints are welcomed, if not at least tolerated.

God help us.