Critical Thinking

Are textbooks objective? Why do we learn what we learn in school? If we as a society think assault is bad, then why is it entertaining when two hockey players or boxers put up their dukes?

You can’t find the answers to these dilemmas with a quick search. If you want to blow minds, you’ll need to use critical thinking. So what is critical thinking? In short, it is a process by which you analyze things and generate questions to further your understanding of them. It’s a good way to win an argument with your parents about whether you or your evil siblings get to play the Xbox. But, there are some drawbacks. Even though you feel like you should get the most time on the Xbox🎮, your siblings might probably have some pretty good reasons too, besides whining like big baby👶🏻👶🏽👶🏿. Critical thinking is just that: it’s critical! It means that we have to look really close not just at the way other people view things, but give some real thought to why we think the way we do. It’s not always super fun to feel like we’re wrong, but working to challenge our own assumptions is the first step toward any philosophical thinking!

Questions to Think About

  • Can you ever be free from bias?

  • When should critical thinking be used?

  • If you employ critical thinking, will you always make the right decisions or come up with the right answers?

  • What is the difference between thinking and critical thinking?

  • What is the difference between critical thinking and debating to win?

Key Thinkers

  • Socrates

  • Thomas Aquinas

  • Francis Bacon

  • René Descartes

  • Aristotle

  • John Dewey

“Socrates Statue at the Louvre” by derekskey is licensed with CC BY 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/. https://www.flickr.com/photos/32211216@N06/9135166134

“St Thomas Aquinas” by Lawrence OP is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/. https://www.flickr.com/photos/35409814@N00/40626309662

“Francis Bacon, Viscount St. Alban, son of Sir Nicholas Bacon” by lisby1 is licensed with CC PDM 1.0. To view the terms, visit https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/mark/1.0/. https://www.flickr.com/photos/60861613@N00/3785895610

“René Descartes” by pittigliani2005 is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/. https://www.flickr.com/photos/37925259@N00/5832576407

“Aristotle” by Nick in exsilio is licensed with CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/. https://www.flickr.com/photos/33563858@N00/6884873348

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Key Texts

Podcasts

  • #2: What is Critical Thinking?

    Jonathan Maloney on Thinking Critically by Intelligent Speculation

    Listen

Key Terms

  • Argument
    An attempt to persuade someone to accept something. Must have at least one premise and a conclusion.
  • Conclusion
    A statement of something that the writer (or speaker) wants you to accept.
  • Premise
    A statement that aims to persuade the reader to accept a conclusion.
  • Assertion
    A claim with no support.

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