It's incredible that this 1916 tutorial on how to think, by none other than Henry Hazlitt, would still hold up after all these years. But here's why. Hazlitt was largely self-educated. He read voraciously. He trained himself to be a great intellect. In the middle of this process, he discovered that it is far more important to learn to think clearly than to merely take in information. The result was this book.
In some ways, it is a course in logic. But more than that, it is a training manual for how to fire up and manage one's mental energy.
He discusses how to think about analogies and discover their errors. He speaks of the error of too much aggregation and misplaced definitions. He presents the rules for the interplay between theory and example. He shows how to spot errors in theory and experiments. He shows how to think all the way to the end of a problem. He gives some very practical advice on the relationship between thinking and reading - and how to plan that reading so that one uses one's time well.
His examples of how to think and how not to think are lucid and compelling. His influences in this little book include Stanley Jevons and Herbert Spencer, so we can see here that Hazlitt was already steeped in economic literature when he wrote this book in 1916.
It remains an excellent primer in how to gain, and make use of, a good education.
This is crucial to anyone who wishes to be a more consistent and thoughtful thinker. I am astounded that he wrote this at the age of 22; he is truly the person to trust on how to think systematically. I recommend to everyone who takes thinking seriously.
I was looking for a book on logic & how to think, and I found it in "Thinking as a Science." Hazlitt built upon the works of Stanley Jevons. While Jevons is worth a look, Hazlitt's writing style, in my opinion, is much clearer [and this was before he hit 20]. I will warn you though, Hazlitt took the first few chapters setting up the philosophy of thinking which is more technical than the rest of the book. This was needed to understand Hazlitt's points later in the book and help one take in the logic more clearly.
I loved this book, and I will be passing it on to my younger siblings to increase their ability to think. I would suggest doing the same for learners, young and young at heart.
I was hoping for a book that focused on deductive reasoning, and while this book did some of that it wasn't quite as rigorous as I had hoped for. Perhaps my expectations were too high. It was a good read though, with many great insights that I think many people could gain from.
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