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expedia and communicative escalation 

Expedia just emailed me for the sixth time this week, with the majority of the emails containing attention grabbing emojis in the subject lines, in a way I had never seen before:  I’m not sure what happened this week. Does Expedia have a new marketing strategy? Have I been algorithmically […]

The sociology of thinking and cognitive mechanisms

I listened to an interesting podcast earlier, in which the psychologist Eldar Shafir discusses the ‘tunnelling effect’ produced by scarcity. This is how Oliver Burkeman describes their argument: “Scarcity captures the mind,” explain Mullainathan and Shafir. It promotes tunnel vision, helping us focus on the crisis at hand but making us “less […]

Notes for a Sociology of Thinking 1.2

How much time do you spend talking to yourself? If you put the question this way, it often makes people uncomfortable. An alternative phrasing: how much time do you spend engaged in “directed conscious thought”? This is what Tim Wilson et al investigated in a new paper published in Science. […]

The Messiness of Intellectual Biography

If one stands back from the day-to-day demands of professional routine, it becomes clear that an intellectual trajectory is not organised in advance, we do not begin by surveying the intellectual ground before deciding upon a line of enquiry; rather, as Hans-Georg Gadamer might put it, we fall into conversation; […]

Heidegger on Thinking 1.2

Again I find myself somewhat repelled, though perhaps with less justification than in the previous lecture. The second lecture opens with the pronouncement that “we modern men presumably have not the slightest notion how thoughtfully the Greeks experienced their lofty poetry, their works of art – no, not experienced, but […]

Heidegger on Thinking 1.1

Following on from this enormously thought-provoking paper by Richard Swedberg on the sociology of thinking, I’ve decided to return to Heidegger for the first time since I was a philosophy student. I really struggled with Heidegger and ultimately justified giving up conditional on the promise that I would one day […]

Notes for a Sociology of Thinking 1.1

Richard Swedberg begins his paper Thinking and Sociology by recognising that there may be “good reasons” why these two things are rarely discussed together. Though “all of us think” and “we all know the intensely private character of our thoughts”, these thoughts are fleeting and ephemeral when considered next to things […]