Courtesy

The art of listening and reflection. It requires a taught or instinctive logic literacy and manners—foregoing distractions, deceptions, fallacies and abstractions. It requires presence, and particular courtesies such as not interrupting—and (a variant), not interrupting, guessing wrongly what the other person was going to say, and then launching into an unstoppable flow of disagreement with what you assumed he would.

It means not finishing the other person’s sentences, not quickly losing concentration while the other person is speaking, not hurrying the other person along with impatient listening-noises (“yes . . . yes . . . yes”), not abruptly changing the subject (Shifting Ground), not flatly and thoughtlessly contradicting or disagreeing as a matter of routine, not deliberately misconstruing as an absurdity what the other person has said, not assuming the other person to be an idiot unless you have considered the evidence, not catching the other person out by taking issue with the loose expression that happens in everyday conversation, not taking the other person’s observations as personal criticism, and not interpreting the other person in a different “colour” from that which was intended—i.e., being able to recognise a joke as a joke, and urgency as demanding attention.C266

Courtesy brings virtues which Izaak Walton ascribed to fishing: “a rest to the mind, a cheerer of his spirits, a diverter of sadness, a calmer of unquiet thoughts, a moderator of passions, a procurer of contentedness; . . . habits of peace and patience”.C267

 

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David Fleming
Dr David Fleming (2 January 1940 – 29 November 2010) was an economist, historian and writer, based in London. He was among the first to reveal the possibility of peak oil's approach and invented the influential TEQs scheme, designed to address this and climate change. He was also a significant figure in the development of the UK Green Party, the Transition Towns movement and the New Economics Foundation, as well as a Chairman of the Soil Association. His wide-ranging independent analysis culminated in two critically acclaimed books, Lean Logic and Surviving the Future. A film about his perspective and legacy - The Sequel: What Will Follow Our Troubled Civilisation? - was released in 2019, directed by BAFTA-winning director Peter Armstrong. For more information, including on Lean Logic, click the little globe below!

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