‘You’re not thinking; you’re just being logical’

Here’s an interesting extract from Maurice A. Finocchiaro’s book, Arguments about Arguments:

In his autobiography, physicist Otto R. Frisch tells the following revealing anecdote about Niels Bohr. Bohr, we are told, “never trusted a purely formal or mathematical argument. ‘No, no,’ he would say, ‘You are not thinking; you are just being logical.'” It would be arbitrary and uncharitable to interpret Bohr’s point as implying that being logical is not a form of thinking. Rather, it seems obvious that he is distinguishing between two types of thinking, logical thinking and another kind which might be appropriately labeled as critical thinking.

Niels Bohr’s point actually applies to all types of thinking, even political. So, political thought is also of two types: logical and critical. Logical is going by the book, sticking to the rules. While many would like us to think logically, it ends up killing the critical thinker in us. If you’re only logical, you’re more of an advocate of law. What if the law itself is not worth being followed? What if the book has serious flaws? What if it has been written by others, not us? These and other questions are not addressed by the purely logical thinker. The establishment always wants you to think within the box. The box is golden for it and it rewards the most logical of thinkers. But it is the critical thinker who thinks outside the box, and in doing so, reforms it.