How to become more intelligent

Discussion in 'General Topics' started by Juwayni, Jun 24, 2018.

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  1. Juwayni

    Juwayni Active Member

    As Salāmu ʿAlaykum,

    Agreed. I think this is one area where our tradition of commentary has excelled. Contrary to Orientalist quips on 'derivative' late-classical Islamic scholarship, ours is a tradition of tahqīq. Many of our savants are not opposed to [respectfully] reassessing the positions of their elders in their scholarly investigations. Just because something is a commentary doesn't mean the commentator always agrees. Having a commentator unpack additional meanings to a foundational text strengthens one's own understanding of the work as they develop 'layers of understanding'.

    On his writings regarding international affairs, one writer I find difficult to do this with is Chomsky. His citations are apparent, but the sheer volume of them would require a full-time commitment to fact check. Hence, harkening back to the benefits of the commentary format and the role of muhaqqiqs in critically verification.

    Not sure if a mish-mash of sub-par Excel-VBA makes the cut. :)
    Unbeknown likes this.
  2. Unbeknown

    Unbeknown Senior Moderator

    One thing I've found definitely helpful is reading beyond your current competence level - so say reading books from higher grades, or reading books from fields other than yours or reading books in a language which you are not very conversant with, or just random complex topics - helps you move to the next level and in time these topics no longer remain complex but become everyday fare.

    All the better if you could choose these complex topics from religious subjects.

    Another important aspect similar to what you have posted is, unless you are reading for pleasure, NEVER follow an author's narrative like a sheep - challenge each line or concept introduced and ask yourself if it is justifiable, could it be better, where is the supporting data, who or what is the ultimate source of validation for it - an individual, a book, a survey, an ancient axiom, common sense, empirical observation etc.?
    Could the sentence be formed in a different way to make it more clear or more forceful?

    Another thing that could be done is read critiques and counter-critiques and counter-counter-critiques and try to find where each of these are right, where they are wrong and where all of them are wrong. Then come up with an appraisal for the entire to and fro and how it went. You need not write it, just think about it.

    This exercise will help when you sit down to review or critique or write a book yourself- and make you a more thoughtful person in general.

    I also think that learning to program or writing programs is also a good way to make you a more acute thinker - provided you apply the skills you learn to other areas of your life and also that you are spending enough efforts at writing sophisticated programs that run with least amount of bugs.

    sysadmins are free to disagree ...
  3. Juwayni

    Juwayni Active Member

    An answer to the question: how do I read philosophy? How do I effectively absorb and understand what I'm reading?
    [J: can be applied to other areas besides philosophy]

    Answer [emphasis mine]:
    "I do two things.

    First, I read a sentence at a time and refuse to move to the next sentence until I am certain I understand the one I've just read. I place it into context and see how it follows from the previous sentence. This is very different from ordinary reading and it requires some practice. (I learned to read this way by working through move-by-move presentations of famous chess matches. I tried to accelerate my own mastery of chess by studying each move and declining to consider the next until I felt I knew why the player had made the move I was studying. I spent hours studying chess matches.)

    Second, pay attention to "scaffolding" language. "There are three reasons..." "The alternative..." "On the other hand..." Phrases like these are not part of philosophy, but they are easily overlooked clues to the structure of the piece you're reading. Take note of them! I don't usually highlight texts, but if I did, I would highlight text like "there are three reasons" and then write big numbers next to the three reasons, which may be pages apart from each other. Paying attention to the scaffolding can give you insight into the structure of the author's arguments."

    And another answer:

    "Here are some tips:
    1. When reading a philosophy book, underline what you think are important bits while you read. Then the next time you read the book, reread what you've underlined before reading new material.

    2. Take notes while you read.

    3. When an author makes a conclusion, reconstruct their argument for that conclusion in premise-conclusion form.

    4. If you ever see "obviously", "clearly", or "surely", or any word like that, ask why? These are words that stand in for actual arguments. Sometimes when you think about you, you'll think 'ah, yes, that is obvious', but sometime you'll think 'no, that's not justified'.

    5. Read with someone else. Meet once a week to discuss a paper or chapter."
  4. Juwayni

    Juwayni Active Member

    As Salāmu ʿAlaykum

    Came across this. In it he says the elite in the years to come will be those who are intelligent, not [necessarily] the strong. The main points he talks about are as follows:
    • Speak less.
    • Eat less.
    • Stop masturbating.
    • Read more.
    • Do manual labour.
    • Seek different experiences.
    • Have a journal.
    • Spend time alone.
    As always, run your image blocker before browsing.
    Unbeknown likes this.

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