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Think Again: Contrarian Reflections on Life, Culture, Politics, Religion, Law, and Education

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From 1995 to 2013, Stanley Fish's provocative New York Times columns consistently generated passionate discussion and debate. In Think Again, he has assembled almost one hundred of his best columns into a thematically arranged collection with a substantial new introduction that explains his intention in writing these pieces and offers an analysis of why they provoked so mu From 1995 to 2013, Stanley Fish's provocative New York Times columns consistently generated passionate discussion and debate. In Think Again, he has assembled almost one hundred of his best columns into a thematically arranged collection with a substantial new introduction that explains his intention in writing these pieces and offers an analysis of why they provoked so much reaction. Some readers reported being frustrated when they couldn't figure out where Fish, one of America's most influential thinkers, stood on the controversies he addressed in the essays--from atheism and affirmative action to plagiarism and postmodernism. But, as Fish says, that is the point. Opinions are cheap; you can get them anywhere. Instead of offering just another set of them, Fish analyzes and dissects the arguments put forth by different sides--in debates over free speech, identity politics, the gun lobby, and other hot-button topics--in order to explain how their arguments work or don't work. In short, these are essays that teach you not what to think but how to think more clearly. Brief and accessible yet challenging, these essays provide all the hard-edged intellectual, cultural, and political analysis one expects from Fish. At the same time, the collection includes a number of revealing and even poignant autobiographical essays in which, as Fish says, readers will learn about my anxieties, my aspirations, my eccentricities, my foibles, my father, and my obsessions--Frank Sinatra, Ted Williams, basketball, and Jews. Reflecting the wide-ranging interests of one of today's leading critics, this is Fish's broadest and most engaging book to date.


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From 1995 to 2013, Stanley Fish's provocative New York Times columns consistently generated passionate discussion and debate. In Think Again, he has assembled almost one hundred of his best columns into a thematically arranged collection with a substantial new introduction that explains his intention in writing these pieces and offers an analysis of why they provoked so mu From 1995 to 2013, Stanley Fish's provocative New York Times columns consistently generated passionate discussion and debate. In Think Again, he has assembled almost one hundred of his best columns into a thematically arranged collection with a substantial new introduction that explains his intention in writing these pieces and offers an analysis of why they provoked so much reaction. Some readers reported being frustrated when they couldn't figure out where Fish, one of America's most influential thinkers, stood on the controversies he addressed in the essays--from atheism and affirmative action to plagiarism and postmodernism. But, as Fish says, that is the point. Opinions are cheap; you can get them anywhere. Instead of offering just another set of them, Fish analyzes and dissects the arguments put forth by different sides--in debates over free speech, identity politics, the gun lobby, and other hot-button topics--in order to explain how their arguments work or don't work. In short, these are essays that teach you not what to think but how to think more clearly. Brief and accessible yet challenging, these essays provide all the hard-edged intellectual, cultural, and political analysis one expects from Fish. At the same time, the collection includes a number of revealing and even poignant autobiographical essays in which, as Fish says, readers will learn about my anxieties, my aspirations, my eccentricities, my foibles, my father, and my obsessions--Frank Sinatra, Ted Williams, basketball, and Jews. Reflecting the wide-ranging interests of one of today's leading critics, this is Fish's broadest and most engaging book to date.

50 review for Think Again: Contrarian Reflections on Life, Culture, Politics, Religion, Law, and Education

  1. 5 out of 5

    John Gurney

    Stanley Fish, law professor, wrote a New York Times column and many are compiled here. Fish writes cogently and logically with flourishes of humor. His ability to convey both sides of an argument without betraying his own opinions is admirable- and rare. He surprises you when he expresses an opinion as his views are sometimes contrarian. He writes on life, American culture, contemporary issues in law, politics, religion, and his views about education and academic freedom. This work is will chall Stanley Fish, law professor, wrote a New York Times column and many are compiled here. Fish writes cogently and logically with flourishes of humor. His ability to convey both sides of an argument without betraying his own opinions is admirable- and rare. He surprises you when he expresses an opinion as his views are sometimes contrarian. He writes on life, American culture, contemporary issues in law, politics, religion, and his views about education and academic freedom. This work is will challenge you. I find areas to disagree with Fish, but, his thinking is worth exploring.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Richa Sharma

    Think Again is a collection of some hard hitting essays and articles by Stanley Fish where he talks about intellectual, cultural and political topics. The book includes the best New York Times columns that the author has arranged in a thematic manner with added content. The many autobiographical essays in the book give an insight into Fish's flaws, anxieties and quirks. The book was a long and stimulating read for me, I took my time with this, reading it for over a month. With many gruelling read Think Again is a collection of some hard hitting essays and articles by Stanley Fish where he talks about intellectual, cultural and political topics. The book includes the best New York Times columns that the author has arranged in a thematic manner with added content. The many autobiographical essays in the book give an insight into Fish's flaws, anxieties and quirks. The book was a long and stimulating read for me, I took my time with this, reading it for over a month. With many gruelling reading sessions and loads of research, this book is perfect for those looking to see the world through an analytical lens. Stanley Fish is considered as one of the influential thinkers of this generation and rightly so, the many diverse topics covered in his essays will challenge you. Intriguing, provoking and profound, the book will surely make you 'Think Again'.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mark Jr.

    I have read multiple Stanley Fish books; I read quite a number of these columns when they were originally published in the New York Times. I go to Fish for precisely the value he describes in his farewell essay: In the columns that provoked frustration, I stopped short of offering the “I believe X” part, leaving readers to wonder where I stood. I tried to stand on the side of cogency and against slipshod reasoning, which meant that I stood on neither side of a substantive question like “Is there I have read multiple Stanley Fish books; I read quite a number of these columns when they were originally published in the New York Times. I go to Fish for precisely the value he describes in his farewell essay: In the columns that provoked frustration, I stopped short of offering the “I believe X” part, leaving readers to wonder where I stood. I tried to stand on the side of cogency and against slipshod reasoning, which meant that I stood on neither side of a substantive question like “Is there a God?” or “Does religion do more harm than good?” I might of course have answers to those questions, but it wasn’t the point of the columns I wrote to reveal them. Let me hasten to say that I wasn’t trying to be objective (a label pinned on me by both my detractors and defenders) or to be above the fray; I was in another fray, making points about making points, and reserving the deeper, moral issue for another day, which usually never arrived. "Making points about making points"—that's Fish. As someone who feels it his calling to make a goodly number of public points, I find I value Fish's help. And I find it droll—and accurate—of Fish to note that the day for him to make points of substance on moral issues usually never arrived. I am part of a worldview minority in my culture. And I myself have a narrow specialty (theology and the biblical languages) that means I can't directly combat the sociological, biological, cosmological, astrophysical, and other claims made by my worldview opponents, those who do not believe in Christ. I go to Fish not just because he helps me make public points that "fly," as he would say; I go to him to help me analyze arguments from worldview opponents that don't fly. Even if, for example, I can't offer an alternative biological theory to the macro-evolutionary schema now reigning among educated Westerners, I can with Fish's help spot the faith-based assumptions (uniformitarianism, for example) that underlie the practice of modern science. It was not without reason that one of Fish's beloved Times commenters, years ago, commented that he felt like he had just read an introduction to presuppositionalism by Cornelius Van Til. Only a lot more readable. I love Fish as a prose stylist, too. He is one of my great intellectual companions through life, and I'm grateful for him.

  4. 5 out of 5

    John

    Think Again led me to do just that on a number of topics that I’d long held to be settled matters. For example, I have viewed classic liberalism as an exceptionally tolerant perspective with respect to religion. But Fish points out that, “Closed-mindedness with respect to religions that do not honor the line between the secular and the sacred is not a defect of liberalism; it is its very definition.” On reflection this is an obvious point but here as in other contexts throughout the book Fish as Think Again led me to do just that on a number of topics that I’d long held to be settled matters. For example, I have viewed classic liberalism as an exceptionally tolerant perspective with respect to religion. But Fish points out that, “Closed-mindedness with respect to religions that do not honor the line between the secular and the sacred is not a defect of liberalism; it is its very definition.” On reflection this is an obvious point but here as in other contexts throughout the book Fish asks the reader to re-examine the logical foundations of our most strongly held assumptions. For me, the result was a needed reminder that many of my “facts” are actually inadequately examined artifacts of belief.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Shally

    The book is a collection of one hundred essays written by Stanley Fish. All are thought provoking, deep and intense debates, discussions. Topics like religion, atheism, free speech, guns, politics and postmodernism are a part of this essay. I have read the essays keeping in mind as if reading a newspaper, they are precise, one topics has a few essays, every topic is divided by sections and it all took a toll on my brain reading them. I definitely appreciate the language he uses, the thoughts he The book is a collection of one hundred essays written by Stanley Fish. All are thought provoking, deep and intense debates, discussions. Topics like religion, atheism, free speech, guns, politics and postmodernism are a part of this essay. I have read the essays keeping in mind as if reading a newspaper, they are precise, one topics has a few essays, every topic is divided by sections and it all took a toll on my brain reading them. I definitely appreciate the language he uses, the thoughts he put up. Though I am half way through it, I suggest that this book indeed is very precious for the ones who enjoy reading non-fiction. Also, one who likes essays.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Writemoves

    I did not want to try to slog through the essays. I did read a few.. I can only stand a lighter fare of reading given all the bad news associated with the coronavirus pandemic. Wrong book for me at this time.

  7. 5 out of 5

    David

    small sample size, but i couldn't help but notice that more than 20 goodreads reviewers have marked this one "to read", going back up to 7 months ago, while only one before me has actually rated it. I can relate, people! It looked very tempting on the library shelf -- collection of erudite takes on interesting, controversial issues (affirmative action, hate speech, the new atheism, etc. etc.) by a guy I've sort of heard of but not read -- let's do it! But then.....just couldn't get into it. Perha small sample size, but i couldn't help but notice that more than 20 goodreads reviewers have marked this one "to read", going back up to 7 months ago, while only one before me has actually rated it. I can relate, people! It looked very tempting on the library shelf -- collection of erudite takes on interesting, controversial issues (affirmative action, hate speech, the new atheism, etc. etc.) by a guy I've sort of heard of but not read -- let's do it! But then.....just couldn't get into it. Perhaps the book jacket is right, and I'm just mistakenly craving opinions [a dime a dozen per the author and not his specialty] rather than analysis, but I found the structure of most of these essays unappealing -- no overall position or conclusion, just that someone's argument in support of one or another conclusion is weak, illogical, or wrong. Working in an academic setting, I get enough of that during the day and didn't find this a diverting recreational read. On the bright side, he likes to play pickup basketball, so he must be basically a good guy.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stefan

  9. 4 out of 5

    Lila Mouchantat

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nick

  11. 4 out of 5

    Danyse

  12. 4 out of 5

    Fredrik Bergljung

  13. 4 out of 5

    Teemu Taira

  14. 5 out of 5

    Sebastian Kluge

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Mintz

  16. 4 out of 5

    Larry Wood

  17. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

  18. 4 out of 5

    Elijah Stone

  19. 4 out of 5

    Roy

  20. 4 out of 5

    John

  21. 4 out of 5

    Keith E. Essen

  22. 5 out of 5

    Peter Podbielski

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

  24. 5 out of 5

    Robbie Wooten

  25. 4 out of 5

    Raphael

  26. 4 out of 5

    Philip Jenks

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jason Haynes

  28. 5 out of 5

    Taube

  29. 5 out of 5

    Steven

  30. 4 out of 5

    Amar Baines

  31. 5 out of 5

    Franky

  32. 5 out of 5

    Noah Sanders

  33. 4 out of 5

    Paul

  34. 5 out of 5

    Hamish

  35. 4 out of 5

    Justin Bloodgood

  36. 4 out of 5

    Alan

  37. 4 out of 5

    Mike D.

  38. 5 out of 5

    Jd

  39. 4 out of 5

    Jim

  40. 4 out of 5

    Bobo.3bo

  41. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Duff

  42. 5 out of 5

    Candice

  43. 4 out of 5

    Katie Lynn

  44. 4 out of 5

    Matt

  45. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

  46. 5 out of 5

    Yorkette

  47. 4 out of 5

    Fred

  48. 4 out of 5

    Quentin Adams

  49. 5 out of 5

    Brian Conant

  50. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

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