Critical thinking is the art of thinking about thinking while thinking in order to make thinking better
What are the interwoven phases of critical thinking? What is its aim?
1) It analyzes thinking
2) Evaluates thinking
3) Improves thinking
Best thinkers use their ability to think well in every dimension of their lives. Best thinkers make the study of thinking second nature. Critical thinking is the way you do everything you do
Review - Define what is critical thinking?
Mode of thinking about any subject, content, or problem in which the thinker improves the quality of their thinking by
skillfully analyzing, assessing and reconstructing it
Critical thinking is self directed, self disciplined, self monitored and self corrective thinking
What does it mean to:
To analyze thinking:
To assess thinking
To analyze thinking
Identify its purpose, question, information, conclusion(s), assumptions, implications, main concepts, and point of view
To assess thinking
Check it for clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, significance, logic and fairness
Orders of Thinking
Critical thinking adds a second level of thinking to ordinary thinking
First order thinking
Is spontaneous and nonreflective. It contains insight, prejudice, truth and error, good and bad reasoning, indiscriminately combined
Second order thinking
Is first order thinking raised to a second level of conscious realization( analyzed, assessed and reconstructed)
What must you become to be a good critical thinker?
Part of the critical thinking process is becoming fair minded.
To be fair minded is to strive to treat every viewpoint relevant to a situation in an unbiased , unprejudiced way.
The opposite of fair-mindedness is to be intellectual unfairness – is to lack a sense of responsibility to represent accurately and fairly viewpoints with which one disagrees
1) What is a weaksense thinker?
2) What is sophistry?
Weak sense thinkers or sophistic sense critical thinkers – recognizing the fault in others reasoning but not in your
Sophistry is the art of winning arguments regardless of whether there are problems in the thinking being used.
What is a strong sense critical thinker?
Strong sense critical thinkers
consistent pursuit of the fair and just.
Work to empathize with the viewpoints of others
Willing to listen to the view points of others
Change their views when faced with better reasoning than their own
Review Traits of the disciplined mind
Intellectual sense of justice
Intellectual fair mindedness
Intellectual confidence in reason
What is Intellectual Humilty?
Strive to discover the extent of your arrogance
The opposite is Intellectual Arrogance which is the natural tendency to think one knows more than one does know
What is Intellectual Courage?
Develop the courage to challenge popular beliefs.
The opposite is Intellectual cowardice which is fear of ideas that do not conform to one’s own
What is intellectual empathy?
Learning to enter opposing views empathically
Its opposite is Intellectual Self Centeredness which is which is thinking centered on ones self
What is Intellectual Integrity?
Holding yourself to the same standards to which you hold others
Its opposite is Intellectual hypocrisy which is a state of mind unconcerned with true honesty
Also called being egocentric and hypocritical
What is intellectual perserverance?
Refuse to give up easily; work your way through complexities and frustration
Its opposite is Intellectual laziness which is a tendency to give up easily when faced with an intellectually challenging task
What is confidence in reason?
Respecting evidence, reasoning, and value them as tools for discovering the truth
Its opposite is Intellectual distrust of reason which is without confidence in reason people naturally will have confidence in the truth of their own beliefs. Also means, undisciplined thinkers feel threatened by good reasoning
What is Intellectual Autonomy?
Valuing independence of thought
Its opposite is intellectual conformity or intellectual dependence which means that large masses of people can become intellectually dependent on authorities
Also means that there is a passive acceptance of the status qou.
What are the stages of thinking?
Stage 1 – The unreflective thinker - we are unaware of significant problems in our thinking)
Stage 2 – The challenged thinking – we become aware of problems in our thinking
Stage 3 – The beginning thinker – we try to improve but without regular practice
Stage 4 – The practicing thinker – we recognize the necessity of regular practice
Stage 5 – the advanced thinker – we advance in accordance with our practice
Stage 6 – The master thinker – skilled and insightful thinking become second nature to us
Stage 1 the unreflective thinker
Everyone is born this way and most people are this way most of their lives
Unreflective people come from all walks of life – from the poor to the rich to the professional sophisticated
Unreflective thinkers are unaware of the role that thinking is playing in their lives
Stage 2 the challenged thinker
Without knowledge of our ignorance , we cannot seek the knowledge we lack
At this stage one becomes aware that normal thinkers often think poorly
The challenged thinker will begin to notice the flaws in the way they think
Stage 3 the beginning thinker
You begin to take thinking seriously
This is the stage of developing will power
Stage of dawning realizations
Two traps that can derail a beginning thinker
Dogmatic absolutism – believing that truth is acquired not through reasoning and inquiry but rather through some predetermined nonintellectual path
Subjective relativism – believing that there are no intellectual standards by which to judge anything as true or false.
Stage 4 the practicing thinker
Committing oneself to daily practice in thinking well and begin to design your own plan for practice
Good theory, good practice and good feedback are essential
Must develop a game plan for improvement
Beliefs are influenced in what ways?
Sociological – our minds are influenced by the social groups in which we belong
Philosophical – our minds are influenced by our personal philosophy
Ethical – influenced by the extent to which we behave in accordance with our obligations and the way we define our obligations
Intellectual – influenced by the ideas we hold, by the manner in which we reason and deal with abstractions of abstract systems
Anthropological – influenced by cultural practices, mores and taboos
Ideological and political – influenced by the structure of power and its use by interest groups around us
Economic – influenced by the economic conditions under which we live
Historical – influenced by our history and by the way we tell our history
Biological – influenced by our biology and neurology
Theological – our minds are influenced by our religious beliefs and attitudes
Psychological – our minds are influenced by our personality and personal psychology
What are the strategies for the practicing thinker?
Use wasted time to develop and practice
Handle one problem a day
Internalize intellectual standards
Keep an intellectual journal
Practice intellectual strategies
Reshape your character
Deal with your ego
What is one of the barriers to self understanding?
Human egocentrism is one of these barriers to understanding
-Our life is deeply situated in our own immediate desires, pains, thoughts and feelings
-Seek immediate gratification or long term gratification based on essentially a selfish perspective
-We seek to get what we want, avoid disapproval of others, and justify ourselves in our own mind
-These all create inner chains that enslave us – they affect our relationships, success, growth and happiness.
What are the minds three disctinctive functions?
The three basic functions of the human mind
a. Creates meaning
b. Making sense of the events of our lives, sorting events into named categories, finding patterns for us
c. Continually tells us: That is what is going on. This is what is happening
a. Monitor or evaluate the meanings created by the thinking function – evaluating how positive and negative events of our life are, given the meaning we are ascribing to them
b. It continually tells us: This is how you should feel about what is happening in your life
a. Allocates energy to action, in keeping with our definitions of what is desirable and possible
b. Continually tells us: this is what this is worth getting
What three things is our mind continually communicating to us?
1) What is going on in our life
2) Feelings – positive or negative about those events
3) Things to pursue where to put our energy ( in light of 1 and 2)
There is an intimate, dynamic interrelation between thinking, feeling and wanting
Whenever you are reasoning,you are trying to accomplish some purpose, within a point of view, using concepts or ideas. You are focused on some questions, issue, or problem, using information to come to conclusions, based on assumptions, all of which have implications.
How the parts of thinking fit together
Parts form an interrelationship
Our purpose affects the manner in which we ask questions
The manner in which we ask questions affects the information we gather
The information we gather affects the way we interpret it
The way we interpret information affects the way we conceptualize it
The way we conceptualize information affects the assumptions we make
The assumptions we make affect implications that follow from our thinking
The implications that follow from our thinking affect the way we see things – our point of view
The best thinkers take command of ?
Concepts are the like air we breath, they are everywhere
Although they are essential to our life, we rarely notice them
We approach virtually everything in our experience as something that can be decoded or given meaning by the power of our mind to create conceptualization and to
make inferences on the basis of it hence to create further conceptualizations
You must become the master of your own conceptualizations.
You must develop the ability to mentally remove this or that concept from things named by the concept and try alternative
The proper way to conceptualize things, events, situations, emotions, abstract ideas, you must first achieve a true command of the uses of words.
Need to be proficient in your language and the meaning of words
As critical thinkers we must continually distinguish the concepts and ideas implicit in our social conditioning from the concepts and ideas implicit in the natural language we speak
Critical thinkers learn how to strip off surface language and consider alternative ways to talk and think about things
The best thinkers assess what?
One cannot reason without using some set offacts, data or experiences as a constituent part of ones thinking. Finding
trustworthy sources of information and refining one’s own experience critically are important goals of critical thinkers
The mind can take in information in three distinct ways:
1) by memorizing factoids or inert information ( which is not
understood well enough to be used by the mind)
2) by mislearning or partially learning
information, or accepting illogical beliefs ( which leads to activated ignorance)
3) by bringing significant ideas accurately into
the mind( which then leads to activated
Review and define Inert Information
By inert information we mean taking into the mind information that though memorized we do not understand – despite the fact we think we do
critical thinkers try to clear the mind of inert information by recognizing it as such and transforming it through analysis, into something meaningful
Review and define activated ignorace
By activated ignorance we mean taking into the mind, and actively using information that is false, though we mistakenly think it to be true.
It is essential therefore that we question our beliefs, especially when acting upon them has significant potential implications for the harm, injury, or suffering of others
Review and Define activated Knowledge
By activated knowledge we mean taking into the mind and actively using information that is true and also, when understood insightfully, leads us by implication to more and more knowledge
When we understand basic ideas, they become a form of activated knowledge
The best thinkers distinguish between what?
inference and assumption
Crucial relationship between two of the elements: inference and assumption.
Distinguishing inferences from assumptions is an important skill to learn in critical thinking
Review and Define Inference
Step of the mind, an intellectual act by which one concludes that something is true in light of something else’s being true or seeming to be true
Inferences can be accurate or inaccurate, logical or illogical, justified or unjustified
Review and Define Assumptions
An assumption is something we take for granted or presuppose. Usually it is something we learned previously and do not question. It is part of our system of beliefs. We assume our beliefs to be true and use them to interpret the world around us.
If your belief is a sound one, your assumption is sound. If your belief is not sound, your assumption is not sound.
Beliefs and hence assumptions can be unjustified or justified depending upon whether we do or do not have good reasons for them.
What is the relationship between Inferences and Assumptions?
Humans naturally and regularly use our beliefs as assumptions and make inferences based on those assumptions
People automatically make inferences to gain a basis for understanding and action.
We make inferences as to clarity of what we are saying, what requires further explanation, what has to be exemplified or illustrated, and what does not.
Many inferences are justified and reasonable but some are not
Review and define Conscious level of thinking
Information ( situation) -> Assumption-> Inference ( conclusion)
Important to critical thinking is the art of bringing is subconscious in our thought to the level of conscious realization
We learn to distinguish the raw data of our experience from our interpretations of those data
As developing critical thinkers, we want to begin to notice the inferences we are making, the assumptions upon which we are basing those inferences, and the point of view about the world we are developing.
The best thinkers think through?
Among the most important skills of critical thinking is the ability to distinguish between what a statement or situation actually implies and what people may merely and wrongly infer from it
Critical thinkers try to monitor their thinking so they infer only that which is implied in a situation – no more and no less.
Review and Define Implications
We reserve the word consequences for what actually happens in a given case. In short a consequence is what in fact occurs in some situation.
As thinkers we want to think through all of the implications, ( possible, probably and inevitable) of a potential decision before we make a decision and act on it.
As thinkers , we want to be aware of what precisely we are implying when we say things.
We also want to take into account the reasonability of what we are implying. If we do, we say that we mean what we mean and what we say – an important principle of integrity.
As developing thinkers, we want to realize the important role of implications in human life. When we are thinking through a problem, issue, or question, we want to think through all the significant implications of the decisions we might make
We want to infer only what is being implied in specific situations
When we use language we want to be aware of what we are implying
We want to figure out what others are logically implying.
The best thinkers think across ?
Points of view
One of the most challenging elements to master is point of view
Review and Define a Point of view?
Recognizing that our point of view has many potential sources:
o A point in time
o A culture
o A religion
o A gender
o A profession
o A discipline
o A peer group
o An economic interest
o An emotional state
o An age group
Our dominant point of view as individuals reflects some combinations of these dimensions
The best thinkers have a distinctive point of view concerning themselves. They see themselves as competent learners. They have a can do vision of their own learning. They do not see opposing points of view as a threat to their own beliefs. They see all beliefs as subject to change in the face of new evidence or better reasoning. They see themselves as lifelong learners
What are the standards of thinking?
Review and define the standards of thinking
One of the fundamentals of critical thinking is the ability to assess one’s own reasoning. To be good at assessment requires that we consistently take apart our thinking and examine the parts with respect to standards of quality
When we asses our reasoning we want to know how well we are reasoning
We assess our reasoning using intellectual standards because we realize the negative consequences of failing to do so.
Thinking critically requires command of fundamental intellectual standards
Critical thinkers routinely ask questions that apply intellectual standards to thinking
As critical thinkers we think about our thinking with these kinds of questions in mind
o Am I being clear?
o Am I thinking logically?
o Am I dealing with a matter of significance?
o Is my thinking justifiable in context?
Review Purpose, Goal, or End in View
Whenever we reason, we reason to some end, to achieve some objective or fulfill some need
As developing critical thinker, you should get in the habit of explicitly stating the purposes you are trying to accomplish.
You should strive to be clear about your purpose in every situation.
If you fail to stick to your purpose, you are unlikely to achieve it
Review Question at issue or Problem to be solved
Whenever you attempt to reason-through something, there is at least one question to answer—one question that emerges from the problem to be solved or issue to resolve.
An area of concern in assessing reasoning, therefore, revolves around the very question at issue
An important part of being able to think well is assessing your ability to formulate a problem in clear and relevant ways. It requires determining whether the question you are addressing is important, whether it is answerable, whether you understand the requirements for settling the question, for solving the problem.
Review Point of view or Frame of reference
Whenever we reason, we must reason within some point of view or frame of reference
Critical thinkers strive to adopt a point of view that is fair to others, even to opposing points of view
Good thinkers then, consider alternative points of view when they reason through an issue
Review Information, Data, Experiences
Whenever we reason, there is some “stuff”, some phenomenon about which we are reasoning.
Reasoners should be assessed on their ability to give evidence that is gathered, and reported clearly , fairly and accurately
Review Concepts, Theories, and Ideas
All reasoning uses some ideas or concepts and not others. These concepts include the theories, principles, axioms, and rules implicit in our reasoning.
Any defect in the concepts or ideas of this reasoning is a possible source of problems in our reasoning
Critical thinkers should begin to focus more deeply on the concepts you use
Assess the extent to which you are clear about those concepts whether relevant to the issue at hand, whether your principles are slanted inappropriately by your point of view
All reasoning must begin somewhere. It must take some things for granted.
Any defect in the assumptions or presuppositions with which reasoning begins is possible source of problems in the reasoning.
Assessing skills of reasoning involves assessing our ability to recognize and articulate assumptions, again according to relevant standards
Our assumptions may be clear or unclear, justifiable or unjustifiable, consistent or contradictory
Review Implications and Consequences
Whenever we reason , implications follow from our reasoning
When we make decisions, consequences result from those decisions
As critical thinkers, we want to understand implications whenever and wherever they occur. We want to be able to trace logical consequences. We want to see where our actions are leading us to. We want to anticipate possible problems before they arise
All reasoning proceeds by steps in which we reason as follows:
o “Because this is so, that is also so ( or probably so)” or “Because this, therefore that”
The mind perceives a situation or set of facts and comes to a conclusion based on those facts. When taking this step of the mind , an inference results
Any defect in our ability to make a logical inference presents a possible problem in our reasoning.
Critical thinkers want to become adept at making sound inferences
As a student interested in developing your mind, you should ask questions that will improve your ability to spot important inferences wherever they occur.