Think Again: Contrarian Reflections on Life, Culture, Politics, Religion, Law, and Education

Princeton University Press
Free sample

From 1995 to 2013, Stanley Fish's provocative New York Times columns consistently generated passionate discussion and debate. In Think Again, he has assembled almost one hundred of his best columns into a thematically arranged collection with a substantial new introduction that explains his intention in writing these pieces and offers an analysis of why they provoked so much reaction.

Some readers reported being frustrated when they couldn’t figure out where Fish, one of America’s most influential thinkers, stood on the controversies he addressed in the essays—from atheism and affirmative action to plagiarism and postmodernism. But, as Fish says, that is the point. Opinions are cheap; you can get them anywhere. Instead of offering just another set of them, Fish analyzes and dissects the arguments put forth by different sides—in debates over free speech, identity politics, the gun lobby, and other hot-button topics—in order to explain how their arguments work or don’t work. In short, these are essays that teach you not what to think but how to think more clearly.

Brief and accessible yet challenging, these essays provide all the hard-edged intellectual, cultural, and political analysis one expects from Fish. At the same time, the collection includes a number of revealing and even poignant autobiographical essays in which, as Fish says, "readers will learn about my anxieties, my aspirations, my eccentricities, my foibles, my father, and my obsessions—Frank Sinatra, Ted Williams, basketball, and Jews." Reflecting the wide-ranging interests of one of today's leading critics, this is Fish’s broadest and most engaging book to date.

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About the author

Stanley Fish is the author of numerous books, including How to Write a Sentence, There's No Such Thing as Free Speech, and Is There a Text in This Class? His most recent book is Versions of Academic Freedom. He is the Davidson-Kahn Distinguished University Professor and Professor of Law at Florida International University and the Visiting Floersheimer Professor of Law at Cardozo Law School. He previously taught at Berkeley, Johns Hopkins, Duke, and the University of Illinois, Chicago.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Oct 20, 2015
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Pages
448
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ISBN
9781400873401
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Language
English
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Genres
Education / Administration / Higher
Education / Essays
Education / General
Law / Constitutional
Literary Criticism / General
Philosophy / Essays
Philosophy / Ethics & Moral Philosophy
Philosophy / General
Philosophy / Logic
Political Science / History & Theory
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The Freakonomics of math—a math-world superstar unveils the hidden beauty and logic of the world and puts its power in our hands

The math we learn in school can seem like a dull set of rules, laid down by the ancients and not to be questioned. In How Not to Be Wrong, Jordan Ellenberg shows us how terribly limiting this view is: Math isn’t confined to abstract incidents that never occur in real life, but rather touches everything we do—the whole world is shot through with it.

Math allows us to see the hidden structures underneath the messy and chaotic surface of our world. It’s a science of not being wrong, hammered out by centuries of hard work and argument. Armed with the tools of mathematics, we can see through to the true meaning of information we take for granted: How early should you get to the airport? What does “public opinion” really represent? Why do tall parents have shorter children? Who really won Florida in 2000? And how likely are you, really, to develop cancer?

How Not to Be Wrong presents the surprising revelations behind all of these questions and many more, using the mathematician’s method of analyzing life and exposing the hard-won insights of the academic community to the layman—minus the jargon. Ellenberg chases mathematical threads through a vast range of time and space, from the everyday to the cosmic, encountering, among other things, baseball, Reaganomics, daring lottery schemes, Voltaire, the replicability crisis in psychology, Italian Renaissance painting, artificial languages, the development of non-Euclidean geometry, the coming obesity apocalypse, Antonin Scalia’s views on crime and punishment, the psychology of slime molds, what Facebook can and can’t figure out about you, and the existence of God.

Ellenberg pulls from history as well as from the latest theoretical developments to provide those not trained in math with the knowledge they need. Math, as Ellenberg says, is “an atomic-powered prosthesis that you attach to your common sense, vastly multiplying its reach and strength.” With the tools of mathematics in hand, you can understand the world in a deeper, more meaningful way. How Not to Be Wrong will show you how.
What should be the role of our institutions of higher education? To promote good moral character? To bring an end to racism, sexism, economic oppression, and other social ills? To foster diversity and democracy and produce responsible citizens? In Save the World On Your Own Time, Stanley Fish argues that, however laudable these goals might be, there is but one proper role for the academe in society: to advance bodies of knowledge and to equip students for doing the same. When teachers offer themselves as moralists, political activists, or agents of social change rather than as credentialed experts in a particular subject and the methods used to analyze it, they abdicate their true purpose. And yet professors now routinely bring their political views into the classroom and seek to influence the political views of their students. Those who do this will often invoke academic freedom, but Fish suggests that academic freedom, correctly understood, is the freedom to do the academic job, not the freedom to do any job that the professor so chooses. Fish insists that a professor's only obligation is "to present the material in the syllabus and introduce students to state-of-the-art methods of analysis. Not to practice politics, but to study it; not to proselytize for or against religious doctrines, but to describe them; not to affirm or condemn Intelligent Design, but to explain what it is and analyze its appeal." Given that hot-button issues such as Holocaust denial, free speech, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are regularly debated in classrooms across the nation, Save the World On Your Own Time is certain to spark fresh debate--and to incense both liberals and conservatives alike--about the true purpose of higher education in America.
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