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We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

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Character Formation

The Big Idea for Friday, July 19, 2013

Character Formation is what Aristotle said was so good about studying philosophy. In his time, philosophy effectively meant education in general. He said that study and thought did not just improve the status of our intellectual lives, but that it also made us flourish into being more human. As a value proposition, Aristotle's is a pretty strong case for ongoing education throughout our lives.

In the 21st Century, though, there are so many subjects and so much information that we have to be judicious in what education we seek even if we treat our educations as ongoing and lifelong.

So what are we to value? We can decide based on practical considerations, based on job prospects, or as Aristotle suggests, based on a desire to form a strong character for ourselves. The debate rages on.


  1. 1 Is The Chair Really There? And Should I Really Care?
    Thomas Cathcart Why Philosophize?
  2. 2 Humor is a Test of Character: Why Our Classrooms Need More Joy and Laughter
    Steven Mazie Praxis
  3. 3 Philosophy in Change and Change in Philosophy
    Thomas Cathcart Why Philosophize?
  4. 4 Liberal Education for the Twenty-First Century
    Peter Lawler Rightly Understood

Character Formation

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