Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Other Sellers on Amazon
+ Free Shipping
+ Free Shipping
+ Free Shipping
How to Think: A Survival Guide for a World at Odds Hardcover – October 17, 2017
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
"Absolutely splendid . . . Jacobs’s emphasis on the relational nature of thinking is essential for understanding why there is so much bad thinking in political life right now . . . Back when they wrote the book of Proverbs it was said, 'By long forbearing is a prince persuaded, and a soft tongue breaketh the bone.' These days, a soft tongue doesn’t get you very far, but someday it might again.”
—David Brooks, New York Times
“Wise and delightful . . . In seven brief chapters, Mr. Jacobs suggests methods by which readers may cultivate habits that encourage the charitable and clear expression of thought . . . The reasons educated and otherwise well-functioning Americans have fallen into habits of name calling and gross intellectual dishonesty, he argues, can’t be boiled down to philosophical disagreements or some atavistic cultural neurosis. It’s the result of laziness. Mr. Jacobs insists we must try harder.”
—Wall Street Journal
"This may not be the most uncivil political era of all time, Jacobs argues, but there’s something about it that is distinctively terrible . . . How to Think is part essay, part lament, part how-to guide for processing the world more generously."
“Refreshing and hopeful, even as it points out some of our worst habits of ‘not thinking’—our tendency toward snap judgment, for instance, or our creation of and animosity toward ‘Repugnant Cultural Others.’ . . . Whatever your positions, this book is a guide in how you should hold those positions, and how you should regard and interact with those of a fundamentally different mind."
—The Paris Review (Staff Pick)
"Witty, engaging, and ultimately hopeful, Jacobs’s guide is sorely needed in a society where partisanship too often trumps the pursuit of knowledge."
“Wonderful . . . a lively antidote to magical thinking.”
“Just when it feels like we've all lost our minds, here comes Alan Jacobs’s How to Think, a book infused with the thoughtfulness, generosity, and humor of a lifelong teacher. Do what I did: Sign off social media, find a cozy spot to read, and get your mind back again. A mindful book for our mindless times.”
—Austin Kleon, bestselling author of Steal Like an Artist
“As much as this book is a manual, it's also a self-portrait of a particular mind, whose style and skills are ballast against the cognitive turbulence of our time. Reading How to Think feels like riding in a small but sturdy boat, Alan Jacobs your pilot through turbulent waters -- and if you're eager to get where he's taking you, you're also grateful for the chance to simply watch him do his thing.”
—Robin Sloan, bestselling author of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore
"Engrossing and hopeful . . . The compelling beauty of Jacobs’s account of a life lived well and thoughtfully shines through best in his descriptions of the ideal thinker as generous, imaginative, and caring. Unlike the virtues of intellectual self-reliance celebrated by Descartes and Kant, the virtues Jacobs extols are well suited to a world that is beautiful precisely because no one account or model or theory is ever fully adequate to it."
—The Weekly Standard
"I disagree passionately with Alan Jacobs about a number of very important things, but this indispensable book shows me how to take him by the hand while we argue, rather than the throat. In troublingly stupid times, it offers a toolbox for the restoration of nuance, self-knowledge and cognitive generosity."
—Francis Spufford, author of Golden Hill and Unapologetic
“Jacobs’s book is both timely and encouraging. Timely, because we’re currently swimming in a sea of punditry, post-truth, partisanship, and perpetual news, which seems to be making engaged thoughtfulness harder and harder. Encouraging, because in spite of all this, Jacobs is optimistic about the possibility of thinking.”
—The Gospel Coalition
“We tend to regard thinking as an exclusively individual experience that operates at the intersection of neural activity and personal consciousness. But we miss the ways our thinking is shaped by the social environment we live in. In this slim and beautifully written volume, Alan Jacobs provides a courageous, erudite and deeply humane corrective.”
—James Davison Hunter, professor at University of Virginia, author of Culture Wars and To Change the World
About the Author
Alan Jacobs is Distinguished Professor of the Humanities in the Honors Program of Baylor University. Before that, he taught for many years at Wheaton College in Illinois. He writes for publications like The Atlantic, Harper’s, First Things, Books & Culture, the Christian Century, and the Wall Street Journal, and maintains a blog at the New Atlantis.
Top customer reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
Jacobs explains that thinking is not the choices we make. Rather, thinking consists of the assessments we make before we arrive at our decision. Most people don't think. They act on instinct and impulse.
One of the questions this book raises is this: Can we be agents of free will evidenced by the use of our reason and critical thinking or are we doomed to be slaves of instinct and base appetite?
Truly original, Jacobs observes with great insight that we cannot improve thinking by thinking about thinking directly. Rather, we must improve our moral character. Strong thinking stems from a strong moral center. His argument here is persuasive, original, and "disruptive" in the best sense of the word.
Treating thinking as an art, informed by the ancients in the Humanities and religious traditions, Jacobs does an excellent job of showing the techniques of clear thinking: listening instead of defaulting into our stubborn mind bubbles.
Jacobs uses the analogy of the elephant, our instinct and intuition, and the rider, our logic, and he wants us, the rider, to tame the elephant.
One depressing note: Thinking requires diligent hard work. Experts on thinking admit after decades of poring over this subject that they can be prejudiced and delusional.
We are arrogant, lazy creatures. Most of us will be indifferent to the plea to think clearly and fairly, but for those who have an appetite to improve their critical thinking, Jacobs' book is a delicious feast.
We live in contentious times when we all need to give the divisive issues we face some serious thought, and Jacobs begins by suggesting that we are reluctant to do so. That's especially true when it comes to ideas and people we disagree with which he and ot hers have called the "repugnant cultural other."
On one level, Jacobs covers familiar turf--at least for me. Critiques of pure rationality, In-group/out-group dynamics. And more.
But there are two reasons why this book stands out as someone who works in both peacebuilding and comparative politics.
First is his sense that we actually think the best and the most productively when we work with people and ideas we disagree with the most. Thus, on p. 148 he advises readers "to seek out the best--the smartest--most sensible, most fair-minded--representatives of the positions you disagree with. Bering around those people forces me to confront ceartain truths about myself that I would rather avoid; and that alone is reason to seek every means possible to constrain the energies of animus." I already knew that these are the kinds of people I learn the most from. It was cool to have my preconceptions validated in this book!
Second, Jacobs clearly practices what he preaches. He teaches in the honors college at Baylor which means he is surrounded by controversy a lot these days. With just a bit of reading between the lines, it's clear that he is more liberal on social issues than most of his colleagues. Yet, it is even clearer that he listens to them with respect and truly thinks about what they say. In particular, he asks us to separate the people who are making a point we disagree with from the issue itself so that we have a better chance of thinking deeply about what that person has to say. To cite one kind of seemingly trivial example he alludes to. I like the Yankees and therefore dislike the Red Sox. But I can like Red Sox fans and even agree with them on something else like Michigan football or even Donald Trump.
In short, if we all followed Jacobs' advice and truly thought about how some of the people we disagree have some good ideas and may even ben downright likable, just maybe we might make some progress and even get alone with each other better.
Most recent customer reviews
I enjoy two types of books, informational or inspirational.... this was neither.Read more