Intellectual Independence

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The other day i had a conversation with my eleven year old son Noah about what it means to actually think for yourself instead of simulating the act of thinking.

We used Lego-Blocks as an analogy for the components of a thought or an idea. If we get a box of bricks with instructions on how to assemble the contents into the desired structure - and then follow the instructions - this is the equivalent of simulated thinking.

Real thinking requires an understanding of the elements of our thinking and the ability to combine them into new, more complex elements towards a desired outcome - in short: reasoning from first principles.

While doing so, we increase the adjacently possible and at the same time the hierarchical complexity of our own mind. Experiencing this growth is the continuation of moments in which the increased complexity of your mind was sufficient enough to start putting seemingly random lines into letters, then words, then sentences.

But concepts without percepts are just as empty as percepts without concepts as Kant pointed out. Just like we think, hear and say words, we have to find ways for an understanding on an intellectual and embodied level of the elements that make up the system we all are embedded within: our Blue Dot.

Increasing our individual hierarchical complexity by reasoning and experiencing from first principles is what makes us truly and deeply "world"-literate - and intellectually independent.

Photo by Daryl Wilkerson Jr from Pexels