What I'm Reading Now:
Science, Order, and Creativity by David Bohm and F. David Peat
You know how you come across a way of thinking about something that has all the right qualities in all the right places, and its symmetry and its descriptive richness make you tingle a bit, and you just crush on it a little? I'm having that right now with an idea from Bohm and Peat that they call the "tacit infrastructure" of thoughts and ideas.
In short the idea is this: we've all got a stock repertoire of knowledge that comes from the books we've read, the experiences we've had, the people we know, all that. We know this stuff in the same way that we know how to ride a bike, which is to say unconsciously, or tacitly. This is the repertoire of positions we defend in arguments, of assumptions we make, beliefs we hold, things we take for granted. We like the stability of this tacit infrastructure. It makes us feel good. It is good, in fact, because it can help free our minds to work on other things. (We can't think about everything all at once, right?)
But I'm sure you can see that it's also dangerous, this taking things for granted, because those things might be wrong. So part of our job, as thinking people, is to be on the lookout for incompatibilities, irrelevancies, or errors in this tacit infrastructure. And when we see something, we have a choice: we could take a good look at these incompatibilities, or we could ignore them, and pretend that we don't perceive any problem. Indeed, they point out the "common tendency toward unconscious defense of ideas which are of fundamental significance and which are assumed to be necessary to the mind's habitual state of comfortable equilibrium. As a result, there is instead a strong disposition to impose familiar ideas, even when there is evidence that they may be false. This, of course, creates the illusion that no fundamental change is required, when in fact the need for such a change may be crucial. If several people are involved, collusion will follow, as they mutually support one another in their false responses" (50) (emphasis in original).
When I think of this sort of collusion, everyone agreeing that "we're already doing X or Y," I think of almost every meeting I've ever attended that aimed to understand any problem of any complexity and importance. Hyperbole? Just barely. Loving this book so much I'm on my second lap.
Charlie Huette is a public school teacher who also keeps a notebook. He dreams about making school just a little less terrible. Many of the posts you find here are based on notebook entries. You can learn more about Charlie by visiting the about page.