The Happy Life of the Mind | Gardner Hunting Podcast

Podcast Excerpt: Do we create evils? Certainly; all the evils there are — just by thinking evil. Do we create good? Absolutely; simply by thinking good. All thought is constructive. “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” We construct destruction when we think destruction. We create war by thinking about it. We create what we do not like by thinking about what we do not like — sickness, trouble, poverty.

If you do not believe these statements, you cannot think long about them without becoming convinced. Do we create happiness and health and wealth by thinking about them? Of course — by straight thinking.

But what is straight thinking? It’s another name for intellectual honesty. What is intellectual honesty? It is looking, squarely at any subject, seeing it as truly, as frankly, as unequivocally, as self-forgetfully as we can. It is seeing a thing without allowing any outside consideration to influence our vision of the truth about it. It is simply allowing our intelligence and imagination to take hold of truth as we know it.

We all know the truth when we see it. And we can see it by looking for it. The ability to see it is a divine gift — or a natural endowment, if you prefer that term better. The truth for me about any given subject may be that I do not know the subject; but I know the truth. If I start there and think honestly about that subject, I shall soon see some of the truth about it.

I may find it expedient to turn to outside sources for short-cuts in my process — to learn what other people have thought about it. But if I am thinking truly, I accept only those thoughts of other thinkers that measure up to my standard of the truth. No one is an authority to me unless their thoughts measure up.

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