Religion and Philosophy

Thinking vs. Doing

By Telos

The dichotomy of thinking versus doing seems to arise out of our own sense of the difference between our minds and our bodies. On the one hand, the gap between mind and body is the basis of the perspective with which the mind can step back, criticize, and improve the world. Without this gap, we would be trapped in an eternal present, unable to imagine anything but what currently exists. On the other hand, the dichotomy can lead to a sense of detachment from the world. Such detachment can be negative if it leads to an isolation from the world, or to a sense of alienation if the world is such that its influence on the body becomes oppressive for the mind. The opposition between thinking and doing directs our attention toward this fundamental gap between the mind and the body within the human condition that is the source of both all human achievement as well as human debasement. As we focus on thinking, our detachment from our actions can allow us to make judgments about the wisdom of our actions, but such detachment can also lead us to bury ourselves in contemplation and ignore our responsibilities for acting, or even allow us to act with a kind of cruel coldness in trying to realize an abstract idea. This issue of Telos considers such different possibilities for the way in which we relate our thinking to our actions.

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