We live in a culture that tends to view thought with a degree of suspicion. Thinking is frequently associated with uselessness, idleness, laziness. These suspicions can be somewhat allayed when thinking can be directly tied to some kind of purpose or tangible result, of course. Accordingly, we tend to conceptualize thinking in terms of learning. In turn, we think of learning largely as a matter of acquiring marketable skills. However, when overtly attached to products and outcomes, thinking and learning become just another mode of commerce. They thus can become constrained and corrupted by worldly ambitions. The idea that learning can be a mode of release from those ambitions, and thus a kind of liberation from the world, seems to have been lost to us.
However, in Lost in Thought: The Hidden Pleasures of an Intellectual Life (Princeton UP, 2020), Zena Hitz provides a vision of how learning is a characteristically human activity that is essential for a fulfilled life.
Robert Talisse is the W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy at Vanderbilt University.