With his dog, Bella, serving as muse, questioner and devil’s advocate, Fisher aims to generate a new way of thinking about science, politics, economics and religion.
Fisher (Logic of Economic Discovery, 1986) begins by warning readers about the radical nature of his book, which encourages an intellectual rebellion against the siren song of social conditioning. “History is chock full of stories of those who have been shunned and punished for…thinking differently,” he cautions. This admonition may cause some readers to assume that the book will overflow with angry, anarchistic railings at all social convention. Such is not the case. With a Ph.D. in economics from Duke University and a degree from Harvard Law School, Fisher is well-equipped to discuss the power and process of intellectual discovery. Although he uses a light, conversational tone, with frequent interruptions from Bella that are alternately amusing and annoying, it’s a weighty subject. Drawing examples from Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Karl Marx and other well-known thinkers, he systematically explores the role of science and its relationship to truth. Ideally, Fisher writes, science is a process. Conjecture should be constructively criticized; this criticism should engender more conjecture and, ultimately, new growth in understanding. This cycle of examining ideas requires an intellectual courage that, Fisher argues, is on the decline; the loss of such courage sets us on a path of blindly following self-appointed experts who gradually rob us of our liberties simply by creating a dependency on their so-called “rational” expert opinions. Intellectual rebellion, however, is not reserved for science alone. Fisher further applies this same process in his analysis of a wide range of topics—capitalism, economics, politics, race and religion. Paralleling Marx’s views on class consciousness, Fisher presents a rational, thorough analysis of modern thinking: Modern “experts”—those who believe they are the best qualified to determine what is rational and ultimately true—“mistake their own interests for a set of universal values.” Anyone who thinks otherwise is inherently irrational, and it’s this suppression of individual thought and discovery that will be this century’s greatest struggle.
Offers an exciting path for escaping intellectual ruts.