I can’t imagine what moved me to pick up a copy of this book in college. It was not required for any course. But I’m glad I did. First published in 1963, it resembles at first glance a textbook for making good, reasoned arguments about concepts and abstractions. But his prescription for critical analysis (along with examples and exercises) actually improves and clarifies the ability to think, write and argue. It is one of those rare books that made me feel smarter after I finished it. I lost my original copy and tracked down this one on Amazon a few years ago. It was as good as I remembered it, clear and precise, charming and quirky, and very British. This snippet won’t do it justice:
Behind the notion of ‘how to analyze concepts’ , therefore, there lies the still more general skill, ‘how to talk’ or ‘how to communicate’: and to employ this skill we have to learn above all to recognize and enter into the particular game which is being played. Thus the person who yields to the desire to moralise, who cannot talk about concepts but only preach with the, is essentially not playing the game: it is a form of cheating. Similarly, the person who insists on analysing every single concept referred to in a statement is, so to speak, overplaying the game: like a soccer player who insists on dribbling skillfully in front of the goal when he should be taking a shot at it. To communicate, then, involves recognizing the particular game and playing it wholeheartedly.