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Transparent: How to See Through the Powerful Assumptions That Control You Paperback – August 1, 2016
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Transparent: How To See Through The Powerful Assumptions That Control You is an innovative, groundbreaking book about people's basic assumptions. We can't help but make certain types of assumptions about ourselves and the world around us. It is not a question of if we assume, but how we assume and whether our assumptions are true. If I were to ask you what your basic assumptions are, you probably couldn't tell me, yet these same assumptions control everything you do, everything you say, and everything you think. Assumptions are the most powerful and dangerous ideas, and they operate almost unconsciously in the background of everyone's mind. It is crucial that we understand our assumptions and that we get the right ones.
Besides learning about what assumptions are, how they work, and how they are built, you will discover what assumptions are found in science, social science, law, government, politics, the media, public policy, business, and education. You can learn to see through these important areas of life like a superhero with x-ray vision. At the level of assumptions you will discover surprisingly that every message and messenger is religious, even if the messenger is an atheist, and you'll understand why.
Written in a refreshing narrative style, Transparent is an intellectual book for non-intellectuals full of quotes from TV shows, movies, and songs. Transparent is a fun, stimulating, thought-provoking read for students and adults. I take the powerful ideas of intellectuals and translate them into everyday language for everyday people. Like Lewis and Clark exploring unknown territory, you will find a grand adventure awaiting you.
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Without my trying to paraphrase the book, Dave identifies three main categories of assumptions, although one has two “flavors.” He calls them very simply Types 1, 2 and 3. It’s Type 2 that has two variants. All three Types are analyzed to understand their answers to eight basic questions, four that have to do with the physical world and four that have to do with people. And although these three Types differ on all eight questions, nothing is more telling than their answer to the first that targets their stance toward, or assumptions about, reality. “What is really real?”
Type 1’s will answer that only the physical world is real. In a bit of breathtaking shorthand I like to think of these as the philosophical naturalists, promoting a kind of Carl Sagan perspective on the world. Sagan once intoned that the universe was all there was, all there is, and all there ever will be.
Type 2’s also believe that there is only one reality, but that it is not physical but mental or spiritual. These are the two “flavors.” And so a Marxist, a mental Type 2, sees everything through the ideal of some unattainable social paradise. Many Eastern religions function as spiritual Type 2’s: the physical world is largely illusion – it’s what they conceive it to be - and only ultimate union with immaterial reality can satisfy their desires.
Type 3’s are typically theists. Quite differently from the other two Types, they believe in TWO realities: the reality of a Creator God, and the reality of His Creation. Interestingly this gives them the potential to have the “best of both worlds.” They hold to and benefit from an Ideal, but can interact productively with a physical reality.
As Dave takes the reader through increasingly thoughtful discussions of each of these Types, we begin to see that it’s possible to find flaws in certain assumption sets. Ideally we should want to align ourselves with a set of assumptions that lead to truth – and let me say that as a committed theist myself, I spell that Truth – Universal Truth.
So take one of the people questions asking “What is good?” To the Type 1’s the answer is “We decide.” There’s no universal standard and hence no unambiguously identifiable evil. But can one honestly look at the world and be satisfied that there is no hope for justice for the horrific things we witness because no one has the standing to say certain behaviors are wrong?
Type 2’s answer the “good” question in light of their Ideal. “Whatever achieves the Ideal is the good.” And so the ends justify the means? With no guardrails? And who blessed the particular Ideal that provides this justification? Is it simply power? This doesn’t seem like we’re getting anywhere near solid ground that could provide a common framework for human society.
Type 3’s have a distinct answer. “Good is God in His person and character.” This may be our best shot at objective standards of good and evil. And of course it requires that we be able and permitted to know God so that we can discover what is good.
It probably shouldn’t have to be said, but the analysis in Transparent is much more detailed and persuasive than a short review can barely hint at. But I consistently found it helpful in making sense of what had seemed like otherwise inconsistent or incorrect positions. For example, why are today’s transgender activists so impervious to what should seem to be the obvious primacy of biological sex? Because they are vested in an Ideal of their own creation – some kind of gender justice I guess – and view biological sex as something idiosyncratic and unimportant as compared to gender that is self-defined and seemingly infinitely malleable. What’s important to them is what we construct for ourselves – and the physical world can just take a back seat.
These insights came through a series of chapters where Dave takes the assumption types and looks at science, social science, government, politicians and politics, law, public policy and finally business, economics and education. The clarity that is gained in viewing these areas from the assumptions perspective is truly eye opening.
But before we wrap these things up, I want to share two important points almost by way of a personal testimony. Not everyone is a pure 1, 2 or 3. Many of us respond to Dave’s questions with answers that reflect influence from a different type than the one to which we would give intellectual assent. As a theist, I found myself giving intellectual assent to the Type 3 answers, but at the same time the kind of behavior one might expect to follow was sometimes under-represented in my life. I took this to be a problem worthy of correction.
In my particular case, as a financial advisor my objective is to craft effective solutions for clients that they will find desirable. But I often know them only to a point and it can be difficult to say what will command their attention and promote a decision to proceed. But I had never prayed about specific cases. And yet if I believe the answer to the question “Where does knowledge begin?” starts with God, then who would know better how best to serve my clients than He who knows everything about them?
In conclusion, Dave tells a compelling story of a chemical engineering professor who decided to make God the “principal researcher” in his group. The results were astounding. But I won’t spoil the outcome.
Give this book and concept a try. I think it will change the way you think about many things, perhaps most importantly about yourself!
When I finish reading, I plan to get additional copies for some family members, to utilize.
Definitely easier to assimilate, with the" Basic Assumptions Chart" than getting into philosophical forest, through standard Apologetic approach.