President Higgins has referred to a “deep anti-intellecualism” in the media and to a lack of critical thinking in schools and society.
He said “the challenges of the next decade cannot be met with the old orthodoxies. We need mind work. Social cohesion is fracturing, fading, as inequalities in wealth, power and income are deepening, and they will not be met – with the greatest of respect to President Macron and others – by rhetorical flourishes on the model that is fading or the paradigm that is insufficient.”
The President was speaking at the launch of the Irish Young Philosopher Awards, to promote and showcase original thinking for primary and secondary students.
An Irish Times editorial referred to the President’s philosophical thinking method. It avoids the confrontation that characterises much interaction on social media about public issues, the “polemical abuse, aggression and anger” referred to by the President. Instead, at its heart is what the leader writer calls “dialectical reasoning”. It aims for “the balancing of opposing views in one’s mind at once.” The leader writer adds that it is widely taught in continental Europe to children from a young age.
(Source: ‘Young philosopher awards to showcase original thinking’, Joe Humphreys, Irish Times 17/11/2017; ‘In defence of mind work’, Irish Times editorial of 18/11/2017).