Livingston’s (Mini) Teaching Manifesto
We do not learn in the abstract. We learn from our experiences and the experiences of others because we are a
storytelling people. Or, as Martha Nussbaum claims, “As we tell stories about the lives of others, we learn how to
imagine what another creature might feel in response to various events. At the same time, we identify with the
other creature and learn something about ourselves.” Thus, stories are central to both moral and practical
education. It was once (and in some places remains) the belief that a college education prepared students to be
responsible participants in democratic society. I must admit a certain affinity for this goal, because I subscribe to
many of Bertrand Russell’s “Ten Commandments of Critical Thinking.” They are:
1.) Do not feel absolutely certain of anything.
2.) Do not think it worth while to proceed by concealing evidence, for the evidence is sure to come to light.
3.) Never try to discourage thinking for you are sure to succeed.
4.) When you meet with opposition… endeavor to overcome it by argument and not by authority, for a
victory dependent upon authority is unreal and illusory.
5.) Have no respect for the authority of others, for there are always contrary authorities to be found.
6.) Do not use power to suppress opinions you think pernicious, for if you do the opinions will suppress
7.) Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.
8.) Find more pleasure in intelligent dissent than in passive agreement, for, if you value intelligence as you
should, the former implies a deeper agreement than the latter.
9.) Be scrupulously truthful, even if the truth is inconvenient, for it is more inconvenient when you try to
10.) Do not feel envious of the happiness of those who live in a fool’s paradise, for only a fool will think that
it is happiness.