Who do we think like: a student, a parent, an economist, or a philosopher? You may think that you don’t think “like” anyone, but just think, but it is not quite that simple. Thinking is something like and yet different than breathing. Breathing inhales and exhales the air in which we live. Thinking inhales and exhales the language(s) in which we participate. Right now we are thinking in English. How we participate in this language largely determines and is determined by how we think. Thinking like a citizen is to participate in a language in one way rather than another—as a citizen. So what is that like?
A citizen is one among the many—one among others. Citizens are members. We are always citizens “of.” “Of what?” Of the many? Yes. But citizens are not mobs or crowds. Citizens are members of civic communities, and citizens create and re-create civic communities. The civic, in other words, comes into existence when we participate in civic conversations as citizens.
Harvard students walk out of economics class to protect the course’s uncritical presentation of the economics of Adam Smith. Read their An Open Letter to Greg Mankiw.