Thinking for oneself?

In our teens, thinking for ourselves often becomes an important theme, and for good reasons. It’s one of the things life – and to some extent society – asks of us as we enter adulthood.


What does it mean to think for ourselves?

Often, it means to exchange one set of views with another set of views. We may abandon some of the views we grew up with, and adopt the views of a subculture we resonate more with. This is more about resonance than “thinking for ourselves”.

Also, it means to learn about social issues and more at a story level, become familiar with a range of different ways of looking at these, and find an approach that makes more sense to us. Here, it’s more about digesting different views rather than “thinking for ourselves”.


If we want to examine this more in-depth, we can become familiar with valid and invalid arguments. Logic and logical fallacies. Media literacy. Various forms of social criticism. The many biases we inevitably operate from. (From culture, subculture, personal experiences, species, the nature of this universe.). And so on. This is where “thinking for ourselves” takes on a little more meaning.


We can also go beyond the conventional approaches.

We can invite in healing for our emotional issues and traumas that inevitably color our perception, views, choices, and life. In the places we are caught up in an issue, our view tends to be reactive and rigid. And the more healed we are, the more we tend to have a more fluid relationship to views and orientations and hold it all more lightly.

We can explore thoughts and the gifts and limitations of thoughts. We may find that thoughts are really questions about the world. They are guides to help us navigate the world. They are different in nature from what they point to. They have practical value only, and cannot give us any final or absolute answer.

We can learn how to systematically inquire into any thought we hold as true and find what’s more true for us. (The Work of Byron Katie.)

We can explore how our mind combines sense fields – including thought – to create an experience of the world.

We can explore our more fundamental nature, and find ourselves as that which our experiences – the world as it appears to us – happens within and as.


For me, a more mature view combines all of this and more.

We “think for ourselves” in a conventional sense and find views and orientations that resonate with us and makes more sense to us.

We learn about valid arguments, logical fallacies, media literacy, various forms of social criticism, and so on.

We explore and become more aware of our many inevitable biases and the sources of these biases.

We invite in healing for the wounded parts of us, allowing for a more fluid and light relationship to views and orientations.

We learn about the nature of thoughts, see them as questions about the world, recognize they have practical value only, and that they cannot hold any final or absolute truth.

We learn to inquire into any thought we hold as true, and find what’s more true for us. (Which includes that the thoughts don’t hold any final truth.)

We explore and become more familiar with how our sense fields, including the overlay of mental images and words, creates our experience of the world.

We explore our more fundamental nature, and find ourselves as what our experiences happen within and as.


As part of this, we may see that “thinking for ourselves” is a term that only makes sense in a limited sense.

We never really “think for ourselves”. We often adopt views of a certain subculture. We operate from inumerable inevitable biases.

We may also find that, in the words of Carl Sagan, we are the eyes, ears, thoughts, and feelings of the universe. We are the whole locally perceiving, thinking, and living as us.

That’s all perfectly fine. And it helps to recognize it and take it into account.


My brain fog is especially strong these days, particularly when it comes to writing. It means that these articles are more rudimentary and less well formed than they perhaps could be.


  • Thinking for oneself?
    • Yes, in a conventional sense
      • examine, learn, explore from different angles etc.
      • find what makes most sense for me
    • Examine more thoroughly
      • logical fallacies, media literacy, etc.
      • examine biases / filters
        • culture, subculture, personal experience
        • species / biology / size / lifespan etc.
        • part of this particular universe
      • notice
        • often replace the views of one culture/subculture with another
        • cannot really “think for oneself”
          • always comes from somewhere else
          • is life thinking, the whole, expressed locally here as a thought
    • Even more thoroughly
      • inquiry into beliefs / thoughts
      • inquiry into how sense fields combine
      • inquiry into the nature of thoughts, their limits, what they can and cannot do
        • a tool with usefulness and limitations
        • guides in a practical sense only
        • are really questions about the world, even if don’t notice
        • the map is not the terrain
          • different in nature from what they appear to point to
          • only one viewpoint, and there are many others with their own validity
        • cannot reflect any final truth
      • inquiry into what we more fundamentally are
    • More mature (?) view
      • think for oneself in conventional way
      • examine thoughts / sense fields
      • more familiar with the nature / usefulness / limitations of thoughts
      • familiar with what we are, our more fundamental nature



Thinking for oneself? 

Yes, in a conventional sense 

  • examine, learn 

Also, examine more thoroughly 

Logical fallacies, media literacy etc. 

Practice finding validity in different views, how each one is valid to us, and høre the specific ways we find validity in any particular view may change 

Examine biases

  • culture, subculture, spieces / biology 

And notice….

  • Often, replace mainstream views with one or more subgroups 
  • Replace what we grew up with for something else 
  • “Thinking for ourselves” in a very limited sense 

And examine thoughts, charges etc 

  • inquiry into thoughts 
  • Inquiry into sense fields 
  • Inquiry into what we already are 

May find that in another sense, we never think for ourselves 

Always from somewhere else 

Always biases and filters 

And that’s completely fine 

Good to be aware of, helps us hold our views / orientations more lightly 

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