Improve Your Posture - Joe Abittan - Vices Of The Mind - Cassam

Improve Your Posture

In the book Vices of  the Mind, Quassim Cassam compares our thinking to our physical posture. Parents, physical therapists, and human resources departments all know the importance of good physical posture. Strengthening your core, lifting from your legs and not your back, and having your computer monitor at an appropriate height is important if you are going to avoid physical injuries and costly medical care to relive your pain. But have you ever thought about your epistemic posture?
Your epistemic posture can be thought of in a similar manner as your physical posture. Are you paying attention to the right things, are you practicing good focus, and are you working on being open-minded? Having good epistemic posture will mean that you are thinking in a way that is the most conducive to knowledge generation. Just as poor physical posture can result in injuries, poor epistemic posture can result in knowledge injuries (at least if you want to consider a lack of knowledge and information an injury).
Cassam writes, “The importance of one’s physical posture in doing physical work is widely recognized. The importance of one’s epistemic posture in doing epistemic work is not. Poor physical posture causes all manner of physical problems, and a poor epistemic posture causes all manner of intellectual problems. So the best advice to the epistemically insouciant and intellectually arrogant is: improve your posture.”
Improving our epistemic posture is not easy. Its not something we just wake up and decide we can do on our own, just as we can’t improve our walking form, the way we lift boxes, or easily adjust our workspace to be the most ergonomic all on our own. We need coaches, teachers, and therapists to help us see where we are going through dangerous, harmful, or imbalanced motions, and we need them to help correct us. These are skills that should be taught from a young age (both physically and epistemically) to help us understand how to adopt good habits maintain a healthy posture throughout life.
Thinking in ways that build and enhance our knowledge is important. It is important that we learn to be open-minded, that we learn how not to be arrogant, and that we learn that our opinions and perspectives are limited. The more we practice good epistemic posture the better we can be at recognizing when we have enough information to make important decisions and when we are making decisions without sufficient information. It can help us avoid spreading misinformation and disinformation, and can help us avoid harmful conspiracy theories or motivated reasoning. Good epistemic posture will help us have strong and resilient minds, just as good physical posture will help us have strong and resilient bodies.

Your Posture, Your Surroundings, & Your Creativity

In episode 1 of the Mindful Creator Podcast host Brett Henley speaks with a good friend of his about yoga, mindfulness, and productivity. One of the things that he and his guest discuss is having the ability to refocus our minds through awareness and small changes in our lives. For the guest he was speaking with, changing their posture and bringing their mind back to how they were sitting or standing to adjust to proper form, helped them refocus their mind. In one way she explained that good posture allowed her to relax and open her lungs to allow her to take deep breaths and find a state of mental clarity.  Henley himself talked about times where his productivity wanes and he feels as though he needs to move and allow his mind to recharge. For Henley, going on walks helps to fuel his creativity by getting his body moving, and allowing his mind to tumble through ideas in open space.
The two thoughts from the Mindful Creator align perfectly with an idea that Dave Birss lays out in his book, A Users Guide to the Creative Mind. Birss writes, “Changing location also changes your emotional state and gives you a new perspective on things.” What he is saying in this sentence is that finding a new place to work from, think from, or just observe the world from, will open up your mind in new ways. When Birss begins to feel stuck with an idea he will move his physical location or change his orientation in the place where he is. Much like Henley who uses walks to see something different and allow his mind to move, Birss’ writing reflects the importance of change and movement for creative people. Also, the idea of the guest from episode 1 of the Mindful Creator is supported in the sentence when Birss mentioned how important your emotional state can be for creating.  By opening up ones lungs and finding better posture, you can feel better about yourself and take deep breaths to supply the brain with plenty of oxygen for high powered thinking.