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Does society need more learners and fewer thinkers?

Asked by: Diqiucun_Cunmin
  • Why build a watch-tower with lego...

    When you can stand on the shoulders of giants?

    I think many people these days use their brains to think too readily, when they could spend time researching and learning more. For example, many people, particularly non-religious ones, form their own version of ethics and morality when they make decisions. Why would anyone do that when there are already many philosophies that deal with this? (I am aware that most DDOers do not fall into this category, but I'm sure many do IRL.)

    Another time, I read a post by someone on the Internet claiming to have made a breakthrough in mathematics or something with his thought experiment. I forgot what his claim was, but even someone with only a preliminary knowledge of maths like me can easily point out his error - that infinity is not a number.

    In recent years, there has been a worrying trend in which the education system has been slowly shifting its focus from rote learning to thinking skills. This has severe repercussions as we are breeding a new generation of children who often cannot even recite beginner classical texts. Rather than leaving things for our minds to ponder over, we should encourage people to learn more and more, and stop questioning what they learn too often.

    Personally, I base my moral views on the Confucian classics, and that learning is more important than thinking is one of the most important ideas I have learnt from them. Xunzi made great analogies. Waving your hand on top of a hill makes you easier to spot than someone who tiptoes, and it's not because the guy on the top of the hill has a longer hand. Someone who shouts in the wind is more easily heard than someone who doesn't, and it's not because the guy shouting in the wind has better vocal chords or a bigger lungs. A horserider isn't better at running than most, but can go faster because he uses a horse. A boatsman can go faster than a swimmer, and it's not because he has superior swimming skills. Similarly, a learner can do much better than a thinker, and it's not because the learner is smarter than the thinker.

    'I have been the whole day without eating, and the whole night without sleeping; occupied with thinking. It was of no use. The better plan is to learn.' (Analects 15.31)

  • Maybe not fewer thinkers, but definitely more learners

    We definitely need both. But in order to be either one, you must be a little bit of the other, too. You can't learn properly without examining and thinking about it critically, and you can think about anything without learning and studying it first. It's just the way it works.

  • Learning and Thinking go hand in hand if you don't want to be brainwashed

    You can't have real learning without thinking. Learning without thinking means you may quickly end up believing a bunch of nonsense because you didn't think about anything you were being told.

    Ask the people of 30s Germany. There was quite a lot of "learning without thinking" that occurred during that time.

  • I think, therefore I am.

    Just how are you supposed to learn without thinking? It is a futile, pointless endeavour. Remember the dates, remember the formulas. Remember this, remember that. The truth is that learning is all but impossible without thinking and spotting general rules, maybe not so much for something like history, but still. Any incoming information should be analyzed.
    And besides, you can't move forward if you learn without thinking about what you've learnt.

    Posted by: dhal
  • Oh no no

    If people only learned and never thought, we would still be stuck at the stone age, fighting woolly mammoths and saber-tooth tigers. Thinking is what makes humans so unique and it allows us to change. Think of nations that are (or were) only taught to learn and not think. North Korea. Nazi Germany. They made sure nobody was thinking for themselves and just learning what they wanted them to learn. It's called brainwashing. Thinking skills, decision making skills, they are necessary and priceless. If that is what is being taught in schools than good. It's about time. People who learn can do average things. People who think can do amazing things.


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