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William Golding dissected the perusal of thought. He concluded that there are three grades of thinking. The greater the application of thought to decipher the truth, the greater is the degree of inculcation of thinking as a hobby. The three grades of thinking are influenced by prejudice, hypocrisy and established customs of the society. Most thinkers never question the factuality of information. The practitioners of the third grade of thinking preach established beliefs (never questioned by them) and may, knowingly or unknowingly, practice something diametrically opposite. What they truly practice may be influenced by their physical, emotional and psychological baggage.
As a child, Mr. Golding recounts his experiments with thought and how, based on his experiences at school, he later adopted thinking as a hobby, hovering close to the second grade of thinking and aspiring to think first grade.
William Golding admits being a confused child and having had his first encounters with thought at the headmaster’s chamber for doing something not expected and not doing something expected. As a result of this demeanor, his teachers often question his incapacity to think. As a result of this constant juggling with thought, he inadvertently sculpts his thinking and theorizes the hobby of thinking.
Mr. Houghton, his teacher, preaches the qualities of a healthy lifestyle, free from the bondages of addictions and sexual fantasies. He, however, indulges in drinking and his obvious reactions to the opposite sex bring out the hypocrisy in what he preaches. Miss Parsons’ assurances that the good of the students is her primary motive, while secretly lamenting a husband which she never got, brings out subtle examples of how hypocrisy, ignorance and prejudice overshadow preaching of about ninety percent of human beings. This is William Golding’s first tryst with the thinking hobby. He scales this level of thinking, marked with differences in what is said and what is done, as grade three level of thinking.
Contradicting a grade three thinker is not an easy task. They outnumber the other graders and are not immune to accepting a contradiction. They would rather have their beliefs left untainted with logic. They would as readily accept someone who applauds their customs as they would deride someone who questions their preaching. It would not be an understatement to say that third grade thinkers are devoid of critical analysis.
People who hold counter views against any belief accepted by the society at large are scaled as grade two thinkers by the thinking hobbyist William Golding. Such people, according to William Golding, are a silent audience who hold contradictions which they do not verbalize. They withdraw from the thought practiced by the third grade thinkers. They get their succor when they see the apparent contradiction in a practiced belief materializing. For example, a country talking of peace and yet not participating in a global peace initiative would make a second grade thinker immensely happy, if he/she saw the apparent contradiction in the declaration of being a peaceful nation by the country in question. Grade two thinkers, therefore, are silent viewers of customs, but with their senses alert to pick up the apparent contradictions.
William Golding says that grade two thinkers place the all important question of probing a belief (namely, “What is the truth?”) at the end rather than at the beginning. This means that they are ready to criticize rather than go in search for the answer. They can logically infer the meaninglessness of a practiced custom, but they cannot decipher the correct alternative to replace the deficiency. They do not have the willingness or the heat of ambition to do so.
William Golding says that the first grade thinkers are few and far between. He confers Albert Einstein as a first grade thinker and accords also himself the status of an aspiring first grade thinker. First grade thinkers go in search of the truth. They are not passive viewers of customary practices where there is a hint of contradiction illuminated. They, unlike the second grade thinkers, seek the truth by introspecting and careful study. They are daring to face the wrath of the society to establish the set of beliefs which are based on sound logic and are free from the impurity of prejudice, hypocrisy and ignorance.
William Golding’s quest for thought and its apparent induction into his lifestyle as a hobby began with three statuettes placed in his headmaster’s chamber, which were a lady with a bath towel, a leopard in an apparent position to pounce, and a naked muscular man sitting with his chin on fist and elbow on the knee. After supplementing his appetite for thought with reasonable judgment about their intrinsic levels, William Golding arranged the three in a manner which truly segregated them according to the grade they belonged to.
The man is kept in the shadows, deep in thought, signifying a first grade thinker who is contemplating the contradictions in a belief. The leopard is placed behind the man, signifying a grade three level of thinker ready to pounce upon the man if he would contradict any existing belief. The lady with the towel is a second grade thinker - a silent observer of the apparent contradictions.
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