So, I've been reading the anniversary edition of "The 7 habits of highly effective people" by Stephen R. Covey. Once upon a time someone recommended the book to me, but I didn't want to give it a go at the time (on the account of who was doing the recommending, let's just say) - but now, yes, I've decided to read it through.
I'm barely past the intro and into the first chapter and already getting irritated. Why? Because besides containing some admittedly insightful observations and various bits and pieces derived from meditative and philosophical texts of old... there are smatterings of, how shall I put this, turds here and there. Their effect is to stink up the rest of the material so that I can't concentrate on the good bits because at the back of my mind, I'm wondering:
"If I spotted that turd, how many am I not spotting?"
And that sort of takes the trust away a little.
I'll write about it more when I've read it through. Not looking entirely promising so far. Which is a shame because I really wanted to like this book.
Here's an example stinker:
Look at the word responsibility - "response-ability" - the ability to choose your response.
Excuse me? What? You can't just decide that an established word with real meaning and history behind it now derives from something that it does not, just because you fancy using it as a tool in your argument!
I was hoping that he'd quickly explain why he's chosen to pretend that the word responsibility derives from the words response and ability (which, just in case you were wondering, it certainly does not). Then I realised (to my horror) that he was being serious. He then bases an entire chapter on the various conclusions that lead from this statement. It made me really irritable.
I guess I chose to be irritated. Just like I chose to read this book. Silly me!
In another section, he mentions genetic determinism and then goes on to summarise that this, along with situational/environmental determinism can be summed up as a "Pavlovian conditioning response". Again, what? We can certainly control how we handle ourselves once fully constructed, but we can't (at least not in the current state of affairs) alter the building blocks all that much. If he meant to say that the way in which people go on to use "bad genes" as an excuse for bad behaviour, then he should have said so. What he actually said was quite different.
There are actually three social maps - three theories of determinism widely accepted, independently or in combination, to explain the nature of man. Genetic determinism basically says your grand-parents did it to you. That's why you have such a temper. Your grandparents had short tempers and it's in your DNA. In addition, you're Irish and that's the nature of Irish people. [SNIP] Each of these maps is based on the stimulus/response theory we most often think of in connection with Pavlov's experiments with dogs. The basic idea is that we are conditioned to respond in a particular way to a particular stimulus.
How is the way we are constructed based on our DNA's instructions in any way connected to a stimulus/response action/reaction? Again, if he wanted to further stipulate that the stimulus/response he was referring to in this instance was the conditioning that a person may have received (from society, parents, whomever) to use one's DNA as an excuse, or a reason for a specific behavioural pattern, then he should have said so. And if he had said that, he'd have been correct, except that that type of conditioning would of course fall under one of his other listed types of determinism (the environmental kind). As it stands, his logic makes no sense.
I will finish this book, even just for the entertainment value provided by outbreaks of pedantic rage.