“A point I’ve repeatedly returned to over the last few years is that we don’t face the world as detached thinkers, but as engaged moral selves. As such, we must regulate our emotional and structural relation to reality in its wholeness and particularity if we are to think about it clearly and effectively. This requires approaching thinking as something that is founded in virtues and well-ordered practices and societies, rather than merely in brain power. We need patience, self-control, forgiveness and forgiven-ness, graciousness, courage, trust, hope, faith to overcome fear and anxiety, humility, etc., etc. We also must recognize the ways in which our thinking is embedded in environments, structures, and practices, which can be dysfunctional and require closer self-regulation and structural reformation, if we are to function well within them. Thinking becomes a far more challenging activity, requiring deep engagement with and attention to problems in our hearts and our relations, mindful navigation of our institutions and media, and constructive and reconstructive engagement.
If our relationship to opposing ideological viewpoints is so charged with interpersonal and social tensions, we will find it almost impossible to think well about those issues. Rather than responsibly pursuing understanding, we will be seeking catharsis. ‘Responsibility’ denotes the possession of the capacity to respond
, rather than just instinctively react—a surprisingly rare virtue! Without it, we will always be searching in some measure for a way to vent our spleen or to drive the threatening viewpoint away from us, instead of engaging with it carefully, charitably, and attentively.”