‘How the World Thinks’ by Julian Baggini

Julian Baggini’s exploration of the world’s diverse ways of thinking is insightful, rigorous and highly readable.

By tracing the major lines of thought around the world, Baggini opens his Western reader’s eyes to the plurality of philosophical traditions and in so doing challenges our arrogant conception of what constitutes Philosophy. In revealing the diversity of global thought, Baggini highlights how fundamental concepts, such as harmony and unity, can be conceived in strikingly similar terms across national contexts. Hence, knowledge of our differences paradoxically brings us together more than it pushes us apart.

As emphasised in the book’s title, the fundamental difference between philosophies is in how we think. The world’s numerous traditions try to make sense of the world through different means, but at the core many of their conclusions are a great deal closer than they first appear.

Baggini helpfully reminds us that, ‘Thinking is not to be found solely in rational deduction’. Despite the obvious irony of learning about these other ways of thinking through the filter of a piece of academic writing – a flaw that Baggini himself recognises – the reader is offered the chance to transcend their one-dimensional view of reality and open themselves up to new ways of perceiving their surroundings. This feels like an especially pertinent lesson for our modern society, where so many live entrenched in polarised populist beliefs.

How the World Thinks is a refreshing and informative antidote to narrow-mindedness. An excellent introduction to world philosophy.

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