Scott Douglas’ Terse Bloviation

David Brooks Gross Oversimplification Watch #4

From 1/27/09 column:

The report implied an entire way of living. Individuals should learn to think for themselves. They should be skeptical of pre-existing arrangements. They should break free from the way they were raised, examine life from the outside and discover their own values.

This approach is deeply consistent with the individualism of modern culture, with its emphasis on personal inquiry, personal self-discovery and personal happiness. But there is another, older way of living, and it was discussed in a neglected book that came out last summer called “On Thinking Institutionally” by the political scientist Hugh Heclo.

In this way of living, to borrow an old phrase, we are not defined by what we ask of life. We are defined by what life asks of us. As we go through life, we travel through institutions — first family and school, then the institutions of a profession or a craft.

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2 Comments so far

  1. MC January 27th, 2009 9:49 pm

    Can we collectively ask Mr. Brooks to go away?

  2. Scott January 28th, 2009 8:32 am

    There are two schools of thought about asking Mr. Brooks to go away. The first camp….

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