Evaluation of the argument
Group Minds by Doris Lessing
1. Provide a short summary
Doris Lessing’s Group Minds talks about the fact that human nature belongs to groups.
Throughout the entire essay, Doris Lessing talks about critical thinking. What she means by critical thinking is the ability to think for ourselves and to disagree. According to Lessing, being able to think critically also means that we are educated and have our own opinions. She talks about critical thinking, because the government has a different definition of it. Indeed, the government wants us to believe that we are free-minded and independent thinkers, when in reality they just want us to obey to their rules, to agree with them and therefore stay uneducated.
Indeed, Lessing believes that the educational systems of the Western World see themselves as being “free to do as I will”, but in reality, it is through psychological and sociological experiments reveal that “we are group animals”. Humans want to belong to a group, because most people do not want to be alone and they are afraid of being outsiders.
Doris also talks about the individualists who, “stubbornly insist on telling the truth as they see it, but most give in to the majority opinion, obey the atmosphere” (Lessing 1).
Furthermore, Doris talks about the fact that we all have a lot of information about ourselves, but we do not use it to improve ourselves, which is the general idea behind her essays.
It is in this essay that Doris Lessing claims that the problem is not belonging to groups, because humans need companionship, but in not understanding the social laws that drive groups (Lessing 1). Indeed “it is the hardest thing in the world to maintain an individual dissident opinion, as a member of a group” (Lessing 1).
2. Determine the view or views the argument is opposing.
In Group Minds, Doris Lessing mainly opposes the idea that people think they are free minds as it is not true. She argues that intellectuals with a reputation are no better than anyone else, which she proves with an experiment she conducted herself.
She believes that the government is abusing its power and that it claims to be democratic when it is false. Although Lessing opposes the ideas rather than the practices of the government, she argues that the government withholds information about the human behavior from educational systems in order to keep people’s obedience to “slogans, rhetoric, leaders, and group emotions” (Lessing 6).
She also claims that it needs to be taught to children, because ‘in the last fifty or so years, the human race has become aware of a great deal of information about its mechanisms; how it behaves, how it must behave under certain circumstances. If this is to be useful, you must learn to contemplate these rules calmly” (Lessing 6).
Lessing believes this would never happen, because those in power seek to stay in power by foreclosing access to “hard information” regarding human behaviour.
3. Determine the soundness of the argument
To support her argument, Doris Lessing uses multiple experiments as evidence, which raises the issue in a serious manner.