This post is a first review of a book by David Brooks called the Social Animal. It delves into the basic nature of man. David Brooks is a writer for the New Work Times and is a weekly regular of The PBS Newshour so I have a regular exposure to him. He is the conservative voice that I most admire in these current crazy times. Here are some selected words from a forward of the book:
What makes The Social Animal the most satisfying and important book I’ve read in a very long time is that Brooks so brilliantly and evocatively explains why we’ve gone so far off course in this country, attributing it not to bad policies but to human failings we haven’t begun to recognize, much less acknowledge.
“The unconscious parts of the mind are most of the mind,” Brooks writes. “[They have] a processing capacity 200,000 times greater than the conscious mind.” Tragically, this interior domain remains largely terra incognita, a vast unexplored territory full of resources and potentials we haven’t begun to tame or to tap.
Instead of drawing on our rational faculties to more deeply understand our interior impulses and motivations, we too often use our prefrontal cortex to rationalize, justify, minimize and explain away the unconsciously driven actions we’ve already taken. “A man hears what he wants to hear,” Paul Simon sings in The Boxer, “and disregards the rest.”…
Source: We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know
I found this a pretty interesting book about a little known topic. There is a revolution currently going on in trying to further understand the human psyche. The main thing discovered is that we are not for the most part the product of thinking but primarily what happens below the surface in our subconscious. This statement is kind of like Galileo who dared to tell us that the earth is not the center of the universe. Our conscious minds are not the center of human behavior. How dare he claim that!! 🙂
Here is an important quote about that from the book:
Wisdom doesn’t consist of knowing specific facts or possessing knowledge of a field. It consists of knowing how to treat knowledge: being confident but not too confident; adventurous but grounded. It is a willingness to confront counterevidence and to have a feel for the vast spaces beyond what’s known. Harrison did not rate highly on any of these character traits.
In other words wisdom is about being able to look outside your current box and to be able to objectively look at things you don’t necessarily agree with. It is about being able to change your view of life. Much of our thinking comes from what we have been taught to believe whether it is true or not. Some of what we think we know is simply a fabrication of non-facts. As David mentioned the human mind is an overconfidence machine. We give ourselves credit for things that we didn’t do. We simply don’t know what we don’t know…
That is enough of a teaser for today. There will be several other post coming about this interesting topic….