William Golding classifies thinkers into three categories in his essay Thinking as a Hobby. Reminiscing his time in the principal’s study as a boy, he reveals the inspiration of his hobby – thinking and analyzing the people he meets. As a boy, teachers were not fond of Golding and he was often sent to the principal. On a meeting, the principal’s question “don’t you ever think at all?” sparked an undiscovered curiosity inside him. This essay will attempt to explore the three grades of thinkers Golding talked about in his essay Thinking as a Hobby.
Golding's classification system in Thinking as a Hobby is useful when analyzing a person’s way of thinking. The system is quite easy to understand and one only has to answer basic questions to apply the classification system upon meeting a person, or on one’s self. Is the person easily influenced and relies on emotions alone? Does the person tend to criticize inconsistencies? Or is the person a radical and is aiming to find the truth?
Grade Three Thinkers
In Thinking as a Hobby, Golding said that he once viewed grade three thinkers with “an intolerant contempt and an incautious mockery” (Golding, 295) because grade three thinkers base on feelings rather than thought. Golding also states for Grade-three thinkers, "thought is often full of unconscious prejudice, ignorance, and hypocrisy" (Golding, 295). He likened the proficiency of grade three thinkers to businessmen’s golf and a politician’s intentions. Golding stated that grade three thinkers will not appreciate nor pay attention if contradictions in their beliefs are to be pointed out. Out of the three, grade three thinkers are the most common.
Golding’s example of grade three thinkers were two of his teachers: Mr. Houghton and Miss. Parsons along with a pious lady who hated Germans. Mr. Houghton is a man who gave “high-minded monologues about the good life, sexless and full of duty” (Golding, 295) but whose neck cranes at the sight of a girl passing by the school window. Miss. Parsons says that her dearest wish was of her students’ welfare and pretended to be genuinely concerned for them. At a young age, Golding was well aware that Miss. Golding’s actual concern was finding a husband. Finally, Golding observes the pious woman having the belief of loving one’s enemies but feels hatred toward Germans.
Grade Two Thinkers
Grade two thinkers, according to Golding, were those that detect contradictions of one’s thinking and that of their actions. Grade two thinkers are not as easily influenced as grade three thinkers. The downside of the fun of being a grade two thinker is the destruction that comes along with it for it lacks the power to create. Grade two thinkers tend to criticize ideologies, religion, and politics leaving a trail of lost and confused people behind them. The spread of grade two thinking often results to conspiracy theorists, irreligion, and the loss of trust in politicians. Grade two thinkers seeks out deficiencies of one’s thinking but does not seek to clarify nor answer the questions it poses.
Golding had an experience during his Grade-two thinking years with a young female, Ruth. Ruth was a Methodist who felt "that the Bible (King James Version) was literally inspired" (Golding, 296). Golding goes as far as to state that "Catholics believed in the literal inspiration of Saint Jerome's Vulgate, and the two books were different" (Golding, 296). Ruth came back with saying "there were an awful lot of Methodists, and they couldn't be wrong" (Golding, 296). Then Golding calmly stated "if we were counting heads, the Buddhists were the boys for my money" (Golding, 296). Ruth's father later found out about the conversation. He became a very upset, and told Golding's parent. This, in turn, got him in trouble. Golding thus found out how much trouble someone can get into by questioning someone else's opinion.
Grade One Thinkers
The last type of thinker is classified as a grade one thinker. A grade one thinker analyzes everything without taking feeling into his decision making process. Golding was very determined to find a grade one thinker; he even goes as far as to say he envies them as he was no longer satisfied with his grade two level given that his hobby was thinking. Grade one thinkers are those who sees inconsistencies, asks questions, and attempts to find the answer.
One day he met a grade one thinker on a small bridge in Oxford, England who turned out to be Albert Einstein. As they were standing on the bridge, both of the gentlemen wanted to communicate, but neither spoke the language of the others. Einstein saw a fish swimming and said "Fisch." Golding was surprised; he tried to use his very limited German vocabulary. He said "Fisch, Ja Ja." This represents how two grade one thinkers overcame a language barrier in order to communicate
Golding shared in his essay Thinking as a Hobby his own thought process as he was aging and how he harnessed it to further his maturity. He also admitted that the classification system he shared in his essay may not be wholly accepted by the world. Furthermore, at the end of his essay, Golding shares that people are probably expecting him to go back to where he started, “where prejudices are so often called loyalties, where pointless actions are hallowed into custom by repetition, where we are content to say we think when all we do is feel” (Golding, 297) as he was starting to feel unsatisfied in his hobby.
Thinking as a Hobby illuminated readers that by analyzing and classifying people, one can better understand another’s thought processes. Grade three thinkers are often considered immature and living a life lacking thinking. Grade two thinkers are thought to be incomplete and destructive. Grade one thinkers can be remembered for their astonishing and groundbreaking abilities. Through his definitions and examples, Golding effectively describes his classification system. This way, readers will be able to classify themselves and others. Grade three thinkers are very common, and grade two thinkers are less plentiful, but not as rare as grade one thinkers, who are most extraordinary.
Thinking as a Hobby should be one of the essays that college students should read as it is very enlightening. Golding shared his insatiable desire to grow his hobby – thinking. This shows what a creative and amazing writer he was. As it is, most students obviously have not reached the grade one kind of thinking yet as they barely have time to explore and further mature themselves mentally because of the academic workload. With CustomEssayMeister, you can now find the time to flourish your mentality and not just academically. If you want the best academic writing service’ assistance, don’t hesitate to send us a message as we are always glad to be of assistance to young and full of potential minds!
Golding, William. "Thinking as a Hobby." Holiday magazine, 1961 August.