685. Think small to think big

Think small to think big.jpg

I rather enjoy abstract questions, giving my mind something big to ponder, but more and more I’ve found that it’s the small concrete questions and observations that are significant and add up to something. The big questions fill in with what's small.

Here’s a wonderful passage from an old book on my shelf: The Art of Clear Thinking by Rudolf Flesch, published in 1951.

“Next time you find yourself wrestling with such a question, stop and translate it into a low-level, concrete question to which you can find an answer. Instead of “What is the meaning of life?” ask yourself “What did I do today, and for what purpose?” Instead of “What knowledge is of most worth?” ask “What did I learn last year and how did I apply it?”
    And when it comes to the question “What is truth?”, remember that our civilization has developed an elaborate procedure to establish the truth about things and events, namely, a court trial. Yet, no witness has ever been asked to answer the question “What is truth?” More likely, he is asked: “Now tell us exactly what you did between 3:30 and 4:30 on the afternoon of August 4, 1947?”

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Related post: Isak Dinesen on two courses of thought

[Photo: taken of some cuttings from a spruce tree in our yard, which have been in a vase in my kitchen for nearly a month and are now showing new spring-green growth fluffing out from the tips. There must be some sort of natural antibiotic in them because the water remains crystal clear.]