Half-Truths: What's Right (and What's Wrong) in The Ideas You Live By
Today we call them “sound bites”, but pithy phrases that capture in a few words the wisdom of the world are far older than that modern term. In fact, many are so old they've become part of our cultural vocabulary: “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. “Talk is cheap”. “It doesn’t matter what you believe, so long as you’re sincere”. “Love is blind”. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.
As a kind of wisdom in shorthand, these phrases speak truth won from generations of experience (and we know from our mothers that “experience is the best teacher”). These sayings survive because they work; which is why, in good times and bad, we use them to guide our actions and even to resolve intractable disputes (“Hey, let’s just agree to disagree”) The problem is that most of them are not really true; they’re half-true. And when we rely on them uncritically (as we often do) they lead us out of one difficulty right smack into another.
That’s why philosopher Montague Brown, author of The One-Minute Philosopher, has here taken up the task of considering over 80 of these popular sayings, plucking from each the wisdom they contain while showing just where they steer us wrong. Presented here in an easy-to-read format are the common understandings of each saying, plus the additional insights you need to transform each from a dangerous cliché into a living truth that will improve your understanding and effectiveness in our world.
But this book is more than a look at individual aphorisms; taken as a whole, it’s a delightful mini-course in philosophy. Considering the perennial wisdom at the root of these popular sayings will teach you the ancient (and almost forgotten) art of thinking clearly and well. Hey, why not try it? After all, “The proof is in the pudding!”