❴Epub❵ ➞ Vices of the Mind Author Quassim Cassam – Royalweddingnews.co.uk


Vices of the Mind explained Vices of the Mind , review Vices of the Mind , trailer Vices of the Mind , box office Vices of the Mind , analysis Vices of the Mind , Vices of the Mind 6ea1 Epistemic Vices Are Character Traits, Attitudes Or Thinking Styles That Prevent Us From Gaining, Keeping Or Sharing Knowledge In This Book, Quassim Cassam Gives An Account Of The Nature And Importance Of These Vices, Which Include Closed Mindedness, Intellectual Arrogance, Wishful Thinking, And Prejudice In Providing The First Extensive Coverage Of Vice Epistemology, An Exciting New Area Of Philosophical Research, Vices Of The Mind Uses Real Examples Drawn Primarily From The World Of Politics To Develop A Compelling Theory Of Epistemic Vice Cassam Defends The View That As Well As Getting In The Way Of Knowledge These Vices Are Blameworthy Or Reprehensible Key Events Such As The Iraq War And The Brexit Vote, And Notable Figures Including Donald Trump Are Analysed In Detail To Illustrate What Epistemic Vice Looks Like In The Modern World The Traits Covered In This Landmark Work Include A Hitherto Unrecognised Epistemic Vice Called Epistemic Insouciance Cassam Examines Both The Extent To Which We Are Responsible For Our Failings And The Factors That Make It Difficult To Know Our Own Vices If We Are Able To Overcome Self Ignorance And Recognise Our Epistemic Vices Then Is There Is Anything We Can Do About Them Vices Of The Mind Picks Up On This Concern In Its Conclusion By Detailing Possible Self Improvement Strategies And Closing With A Discussion Of What Makes Some Epistemic Vices Resistant To Change

  • Hardcover
  • 224 pages
  • Vices of the Mind
  • Quassim Cassam
  • 12 July 2018
  • 9780198826903

About the Author: Quassim Cassam

Is a well-known author, some of his books are a fascination for readers like in the Vices of the Mind book, this is one of the most wanted Quassim Cassam author readers around the world.



13 thoughts on “Vices of the Mind

  1. says:

    A good book on bad intellectual habits and traits we can fall into that are probably linked to certain tendencies we have Like closed mindedness or at the other extreme credulity Or wishful thinking or tendency to be a bullshitter and not particularly care about the truth or Dunning Kruger to think we know a lot when actually we really don t and don t even know we don t know Lots of traps we can fall into I kind of knew a lot of these but it is good to be on guard recommended.

  2. says:

    Some excellent philosophical analysis, some sorely deficient psychology and some weak political thinking I loved this book but it had many defects Cassam, a philosopher at Warwick University, is concerned with epistemic vices, defined as character traits, attitudes or thinking styles that prevent us from gaining, keeping or sharing knowledge Examples included wishful thinking, gullibility, insoucience, closed mindedness, dogmatism, arrogance Former White House Chief of Staff, John Sununu is quoted as saying, People say I m arrogant but I know better p152 At first, this exercise would seem similar to a review, say, of the many types of logical fallacy to be identified in weak arguments, and therefore to be a reasonable task for a philosopher However, it is quickly apparent to me that character traits, attitudes and thinking styles are appropriate topics for experimental psychology and raise questions for which I want empirical evidence rather than purely rational assertions It also soon emerges that Cassam wishes to locate his examination in public events rather than private ones, suggesting that we are moving away from a purely academic subject like the study of logic and towards the political arena, or at least into social rather than private terrain So to start with the philosophical material, the body of the book is committed to a systematic analysis of key terms to define just what is the meaning or significance of various attributes of his chosen vices for example the differences between a character trait, an attitude, a posture He investigates the extent to which and the sense in which an epistemic vice might be considered blameworthy, and the sense in which the person exhibiting this vice can be held morally responsible for it, or can be said to have control over it or any choice about it Most crucially perhaps, he also enquires into methods for us to be aware of such vices in our own thinking and to overcome them or otherwise evade them, preventing them from doing harm The lack of an empirical foundation to this review becomes apparent, I think, when the list of epistemic vices turns out to be somewhat arbitrary and elastic The examples chosen might be accepted as important exemplars, serving to establish his concept of epistemic vices, but as he analyses these examples they each turn out to be slippery customers He makes assertions about them which are certainly plausible, but these are often empirical statements rather than rational statements that is, he is not talking about their logical properties, but about their practical consequences In other words, the questions often hang on the situation in the material world, not in the world of ideas There were references to experimental psychology, it is true, including a nod to the remarkable work of Kahneman and Tversky, described in Thinking, Fast and Slow The fact remains that Cassam is not really working with empirical evidence here, except for occasional asides, but reliant on his own reasoning to sift through his material, and he does not seriously attempt to integrate his conclusions with experimental evidence, even though he does include a fair number of references This is very limiting, I think Frustratingly, there are entire mountain ranges worth of papers in experimental psychology on the way we form and alter our opinions and attitudes and dispositions Much of the argument in the book is constructed around real world, historical events in which the operation of an epistemic vice has had serious, practical consequences Dogmatic thinking by an Israeli intelligence analyst resulted in failure to alert Israeli forces to an impending military attack the Yom Kippur War of 1973 arrogance on the part of the Secretary of State led the USA to implement an invasion of Iraq with woefully insufficient resources intellectual insouciance underpinned the misleading claims of the 2016 Brexit campaign sheer laziness or extreme gullibility may explain the purchase and publication of the forged Hitler Diaries These and other examples may very well illustrate Cassam s arguments but they also require the reader to tolerate a severely simplified account of complex situations Of course, these complexities quickly emerge once Cassam takes time out to examine his case studies in a little detail To take one example, he explores the role of conspiracy theories in a range of situations, including a gross miscarriage of justice arising from the refusal of several eminent judges to countenance the perfectly accurate evidence of corrupt conspiracies at work within the British West Midlands police force He explains that there are situations in which conspiracy theories can be ludicrous but that in other situations there are very real and very serious conspiracies which cry out to be properly exposed What this suggests to me is that a much thorough examination of his chosen case studies would actually have resulted in a valuable piece of work For example, it would be useful today to look closely at the evidence of conspiracy in the US Democratic nominations process for the 2016 presidential elections or the role of Facebook in subverting the Brexit referendum We really do need to find intelligent ways to handle conspiracy theories and indeed, we may need good ones rather than fewer we need to overcome our reluctance to recognise conspiracies This is just not that kind of book It dips in and out of the political sphere, in a way that I find unsatisfying, even irritating The consequence of these limitations becomes apparent in the concluding chapters, when Cassam starts to offer tentative solutions to the problems he identified earlier and fails to come up with very much that I could find convincing I was disappointed by the focus on self help in the search for solutions, because the examples used in the book were social rather than private, they did not concern self harm, they concerned very real harm to others, sometimes on a very large scale Epistemic vice is not only or even primarily an individual problem, but rather a social problem Even when we know for certain that the individual s vicious thinking is the cause of a problem, it does not follow of necessity that the solution lies with that same individual The Cassam explains the likely reasons that many individuals will not and probably cannot change their vicious thinking styles, the it seems to me that self help is not the solution we should be looking for instead, we the people, the public, the victims need protecting from the idiots making these crazy decisions He does teeter on the edge of seeing my point Several paragraphs in the closing chapter acknowledged that key solutions may not lie with individuals at all but with organisations, adjusting their decision making procedures to take account of their vulnerability to the epistemic vices and failings of individuals, but this moment of insight was not expanded upon and not even well digested Cassam even seemed to dislike this approach When discussing Trump s limitations as a president, he does not really face up to the institutional remedies required in the separation of powers and the need for oversight When expressing exasperation at the lies of the Brexit campaign, he does not examine the severe limitations of the legal remedies or weak oversight of the referendum nor the spurious appeals to the will of the people preventing serious review of the referendum outcome To summarise my personal opinions, this is a philosopher s exercise in reasoning, and covers ground that I found interesting in a way that I think has many merits Of course in his own field Cassam knows what he is talking about and I can only sit and learn However, he enters into territory where the empirical methods of experimental psychology would be far helpful and he exposes intensely political implications which he explores very weakly and superficially There are hugely important issues arising from, say, the Trump presidency or the Brexit referendum, but asserting that the people responsible are idiots does not accomplish anything useful and Cassam does not even consider the alternative and far fertile option of a really satisfying conspiracy theory He can plead that his is a philosophy book, not psychology, not politics, but that is just not the case psychology and politics are at the heart of his topic and his book He is a professor of philosophy and I am an amateur, a dilettante, so there are potentially one or epistemic vices at work in my review, which I imagine others will detect easily than I can insouciance will not be among them Even while getting angry with the book, I enjoyed reading it and learned far than I can summarise here The book is worth reading for the important issues and concepts it explores and for its many insights but I am confident that other readers will finish the book as disappointed as I was Quotes One obvious lesson is that the principle of parsimony is a blunt instrument when it comes to assessing the merits of hypotheses in a complex case Viewed from one angle the defence s conspiracy theory was much less parsimonious than the theory that the Six were guilty However, once account is taken of the weakness of the forensic evidence and the otherwise inexplicable consistencies and inconsistencies in the defendant s confessions, there is a sense in which the conspiracy theory is less complicated than the alternative to which Mr Justice Bridge subscribed The fundamental problem, as Mullin notes, is that Bridge did not use his undoubtedly considerable intellect to analyse the prosecution s case with a fraction of the same rigour as he applied to the defence s Bridge s anti conspiracy thinking was biased It wasn t bad luck or the context that was the problem but vicious thinking p74 Consider Kuhn s account of normal science in The Structure of Scientific Revolutions Normal science is paradigm based and presupposes a deep commitment to a paradigm that isn t lightly given up This is reflected in scientific education, which remains a relatively dogmatic initiation into a pre established problem solving tradition that the student is neither invited nor equipped to evaluate p104 What Kuhn calls the dogmatism of mature science consists in its having deep commitments to established tools and beliefs, where the depth of this commitment has to do both with its importance for scientific research and the scientist s reluctance to abandon the status quo Why call this dogmatism A dogmatist is someone who holds irrationally to some fundamental doctrine, but there is no irrationality in the scientist s reluctance to change The fact that a commitment is not lightly given up doesn t make it dogmatic because a commitment that is lightly given up is by definition not a commitment A better label for what Kuhn describes is firmness or tenacity The contrary of firmness isn t open mindedness but intellectual flaccidity pp 112 113 Dunning was one of the authors of a famous paper published in 1999 in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology The paper s central idea is that in many social and intellectual domains incompetent individuals lack the skills needed to know that they are incompetent As a result they have inflated views of their performance and abilities This came to be known as the Dunning Kruger effect, a less polite version of which is quoted by New York magazine some people are too dumb even to know it a 2017 New York Times op ed labelled Trump the all time record holder of the Dunning Kruger effect p144 Sometimes self knowledge is the product of reflection, but traumatic experiences can produce self knowledge in a way that leaves no room for doubt as to their veracity It is not knowledge of one s emotions but knowledge by means of one s emotions How does this kind of self knowledge differ from critical reflection Since self knowledge by critical reflection is intellectual self knowledge, it can t fail to be affected to a greater or lesser extent by the very intellectual vices it is trying to uncover,,, This is also a Proustian point For Proust there is always the danger that what critical reflection produces is not self knowledge but self deceptive rationalization The spontaneously emotional one s self knowledge, the lower the risk of self deception The problem with all this is that it exaggerates the extent to which self knowledge by transformational insight can really circumvent our dependence on critical reflection for self knowledge interpreting one s impressions or traumatic experiences is the work of the intellect So it seems there is no getting away from the potential impact of stealthy vices they can get in the way of self knowledge by traumatic experience by causing us to misinterpret these experiences or misunderstand their significance pp 162, 163, 164 In practice, there is little temptation to regard Trump s epistemic incompetence as excusable, and this is a reflection of the fact that a person s ignorance of his vices is seen as culpable if his ignorance is caused by his vices It is no excuse that he is so incompetent that he can t get a measure of his incompetence That only makes it worse p166 It s no surprise that people who don t read very much and rely on the television or social media to keep themselves informed often have little time for complexity or nuance Fortunately, not reading widely is a problem with a simple solution reading widely p175 If, as I have claimed, intellectual character traits are stable dispositions to act, think and feel, then changing one s character means changing the relevant dispositions The deeply entrenched one s dispositions, the harder they are to modify, and epistemic vices such as arrogance and closed mindedness tend to be deeply entrenched p181 The epistemically lazy may well be too lazy to do anything about their laziness, and the complacent too complacent to worry about being complacent In all of these cases, the problem is that the project of undoing one s character vices is virtue dependant, and those who have the necessary epistemic virtues don t have the epistemic vices p183

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