How & Why I Think As I Do: Here’s the Key to Understanding This Hardlining Moderate
Having a wife who’s getting a PhD is, in my humble opinion, the greatest thing ever. She’s not only got that women’s intuition thing going on, but the critical mind to back it up and put me in my place. It’s wonderful, and I say that with minimal sarcasm. She once said to me, “You’re weird. You don’t think like most people and most people don’t think like you.” Go on. “They just don’t get how and why you do what you do. You process the world unlike them. That’s why they continually misunderstand your views and misattribute your motives. ” Continue. “They see or hear what you say but don’t believe it because they presume no one actually thinks that way. You’ve got to have some concealed position or ulterior motivation.” Keen insight if ever there was one.
For years I’ve had an extended post in the works explaining how I think, which in turn helps explain why I think what I do. In other words, it’s about how and why I’m a hardlining moderate. While I still intend to publish it, I thought the cliff notes version might be helpful in the meantime. My general approach for how I perceive the world boils down to the following 10 usually intentional and almost always sequential steps:
- Sincere Curiosity – Find interest in an area of ignorance.
- Eager Identification – Locate the various positions.
- Fair Understanding – Seek to grasp each perspective on its own terms.
- Careful Synthesis – Link, weave, or meld new information together with old knowledge.
- Thankful Commendation – Appreciate their respective beauty, insights, strengths, etc.
- Relentless Criticism – Then and only then scrutinize the hell out of each position.11.What I mean is a rigorous effort to find falsehoods, over-simplications, logical fallacies, inconsistencies, short-sightedness, and the like.
- Discerningly Sift – Sort the good from the bad, helpful from the unhelpful, etc.
- Enthusiastically Glean – Borrow those elements of truth, beauty, and goodness.
- Creatively Form – Forge a new belief, opinion, perspective, narrative, etc.
- Endlessly Refine – Continually seek to improve it through correction, expansion, nuance, overhaul, refinement, etc.
To frame it another way, I’m an E/INTP as well as through and through critical realist who affirms the ontological reality of truth yet rejects the epistemological possibility of perfectly attaining it while again affirming the possibility of continually getting closer through observation and critical thinking. This is, for example, how you get:
- A guy who’s a faithful husband, steadfast friend, and committed to a particular christian tradition yet passionately eschews loyalty to people, institutions, or the like.
- A foreign policy libertarian who’s fairly conservative on government spending and abortion while being rather liberal on tax rates and gay marriage.
- A sort of high/house church, ethically Anabaptist-inclined Anglican who simultaneously embraces much Orthodox theology and Emergent, Post-Christian missional conceptions.
I’m not, as many continue to charge, a hardlining moderate because I’m trying to be edgy or fall victim to the argument to moderation fallacy. Both are false. I’m a hardlining moderate because that’s the inevitable outcome of my personality and cognitive method. You quite naturally tend to end up with a pretty moderate outlook when you’re intentionally seeking to glean and synthesize the best elements from the multiplicity of conflicting viewpoints. And, no, this isn’t an exhibition in self-centered narcissism for those who may be interpreting it that way. It’s an exercise to “know thyself” and explain myself in order to better interact with the people and world around me.