Avoiding Foolish Opinions 2: Susan Stebbing

On of the biggest mistakes we have made has been to ignore the advice of intelligent women. One such woman was Susan Stebbing (1885-1943). Until her life was tragically cut short by cancer, she was a pioneering philosopher of clear thinking, and scrupulous attention to logic. Although a contemporary of thinkers like Bertrand Russell, and did achieve a chair in philosophy, her light has been eclipsed by her male peers, as so often happened to women in those days.

Yet now she has been rehabilitated. In an excellent short piece for The Conversation, Peter West extols the simple clarity of her work, which she distilled into a book called Thinking to Some Purpose . We could say a lot more, but her trick was to make thinking so simple that anyone could do it. See our links below, but her basic rules are: Question your cherished beliefs; Beware special pleading; Avoid emotive language. It’s an excellent adjunct to our little post on Russell (LSS 30 9 2020)

Stebbing published in 1939. By that time the world had already abandoned the advice of thinkers. The emotional and the believers were about to plunge humanity into its bloodiest conflict yet. But if we try to understand her now, we may yet avoid the next one.

Susan Stebbing – Wikipedia

Thinking to some purpose: A manual of first-aid to clear thinking, showing how to detect illogicalities in other people’s mental processes and avoid them in our own. by L. Susan Stebbing (goodreads.com)

#susanstebbing #bertrandrussell #criticalthinking #foolishopinions #sceptic

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