Thinking Systematics

Critical-Dialectical Reasoning for a Perilous Age and a Case for Socialism

by Murray E.G. Smith and Tim Hayslip  

A toolkit for the mind — designed to improve the ways we think about the world, analyze information and pursue our goals.

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  • Forthcoming September 2024
  • ISBN: 9781773636931
  • 376 pages
  • $38.00
  • For sale worldwide

About the book

Thinking Systematics (TSS) is conceived as a “toolkit for the mind” — designed to improve how we think about the world, analyze information and pursue our goals. Smith and Hayslip make a compelling argument that individual thinking and collective decision making are being systematically constrained within limits imposed by outmoded forms of cognition and the determination of privileged elites to perpetuate an unsustainable status quo. The dialectical reasoning advocated in this wide-ranging book aims to overcome those limits and to allow a much more profound understanding of the human condition in the 21st century.

Mainstream problem-solving focuses almost exclusively on scientific/technological fixes on one side and moral/cultural remedies on the other. But to comprehend our world adequately far more serious attention must be given to the specifically social, economic and political arrangements shaping our lives. Once embraced by growing numbers of people, TSS strategies, methods and habits of thought can contribute significantly to a “new common sense” — one adequate to meeting the immense challenges facing humanity in our era.

Capitalism & Alternatives Education Political Economy Research & Theory Sociology

What people are saying

Bryan D. Palmer, professor emeritus of history, Trent University

“Interpreting the world is one thing. Changing it quite another. Thought, insufficient on its own to bring about change, must always be accompanied by action. How do we think change? Smith and Hayslip offer us a challenge to think better as well as instruction in how to do so. Thinking Systematics is nothing less than a guide to thinking better, to conceiving the world in ways that liberate socialist possibility from the ‘mind forg’d manacles’ capitalism has imposed on the ‘brain of the living.’ Read this book and think socialism’s promise. Then act to realize a better world, one that frees humanity from the precariousness created by the profit system.”

Michael Roberts, author of The Long Depression and co-author of Capitalism in the 21st Century

“The 21st century is an age of fake news, of opinion over fact, of lies over truth, of relativism over objective reality, of faith over reason. We are in desperate need of rational and logical thinking to cut through this morass of confusions and illusions. In this book, Smith and Hayslip show that we can substantially improve how to think and act rationally so that a world scarred by deep social inequalities, material privation and pervasive injustices can be transformed.”

Raju Das, professor of geography, York University

“This book is a powerful antidote to current intellectual fashions that question the possibility of approximating objective truth. Demonstrating the power of rational ideas and displaying an unalloyed optimism about human beings’ ability to create a new and better social-ecological order, Thinking Systematics is a feast in philosophy and social theory. It provides an accessible and synoptic history of the major controversies in Western philosophy from antiquity up to the modern era and advocates a dialectical mode of thinking about the human world and its relation with nature. The book will be of benefit to anyone who wishes to scientifically understand the world with all its contradictions and to contribute to its radical transformation.”


Murray E.G. Smith

Murray E.G. Smith is professor emeritus in sociology at Brock University, with interests in social theory, political economy, health and illness, social movements, philosophy and dialectical methodology. His previous books include Twilight Capitalism and Invisible Leviathan.

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Tim Hayslip

Tim Hayslip is a PhD student in sociology at York University. His research focuses on the intersection of the sociology of knowledge and economic sociology, seeking to explain the popularity of the Austrian School of Economics and its remedies for economic malaise: higher interest rates, less market regulation and allowing the bankruptcies of “zombie companies.”


  • Preface
  • Prologue I: On Human Thinking, Society and a Decaying Culture
  • Prologue II: Alarming Facts about Our Perilous Age
  • Prologue III: Observations on Human Potential
  • Introduction
  • Part I: Thinking Systematics (TSS 1)
  • Chapter One: The Need in Human Thinking
  • Chapter Two: Dialectical Reason: A Brief Historical Survey
  • Chapter Three: TSS and Dialectical Logic
  • Chapter Four: TSS and the Environmental Crisis – A Case Study
  • Part II: Taking the Social Seriously (TSS 2)
  • Chapter Five: From Philosophy to Social Theory
  • Chapter Six: Faith, Reason and Morality
  • Chapter Seven: Evald Ilyenkov: Dialectics of the Ideal
  • Chapter Eight: Dialectical Monism versus Dualism
  • Part III: Taking Socialism Seriously (TSS 3)
  • Chapter Nine: Marxist Socialism and TSS Dialectical Materialism  
  • Chapter Ten: Arguments for Socialism
  • Epilogue: TSS and Human Progress
  • Appendix A TSS Seminar


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