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ENGAGED INTELLIGENCE

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1*5
THE THREE PHASES OF
A REASONING PROCESS

The Cat only grinned when it saw Alice. It looked good-natured, she thought: still it had very long claws and a great many teeth, so she felt that it ought to be treated with respect.
"Cheshire-Puss," she began, rather timidly…"Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?"
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to." Said the Cat."
"I don't much care where----" said Alice.
"Then it doesn't matter which way you go," said the Cat.
"___so long as I get somewhere, " Alice added as an explanation."
"Oh you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "If you only walk long enough."

from Alice in Wonderland
by Lewis Carroll


Alice may have encountered the Cheshire Cat in an upside-down, make-believe world, but Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass were not just stories for children. A British logician, Charles Dodgson, who wrote under the pseudonym, Lewis Carroll, constructed these fantasies. He wrote these stories, at least in part, as a metaphor for reasoning gone amuck.
Then, once you learn to automatically size up the needs of novel situations and apply retroduction, you will have developed the ability to think creatively and critically at the same time. You will come to realize how crucial good reasoning is for making the right kinds of decisions at work; in your family; in your community; for the environment; for the society and the world at large. You will know that you cannot make any decision or take any action without affecting everything else--even things that seemingly have nothing to do with the topic. You will know that every solution brings its own set of problems and that you must use retroductive reasoning to think these out very carefully ahead of time. You will also know that you must use retroductive reasoning to watch for and deal with potential problems before they emerge along the way.
But that is the big picture. That is where we are headed. Now, let us get back to where most of us actually are....

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