Presentation on theme: "PART 2 WHAT IS CRITICAL THINKING?. SUBJECTS TO EXAMINE Part 1 Distinctions between the brain and the mind Critical thinking defined Part 2 Characteristics."— Presentation transcript:
PART 2 WHAT IS CRITICAL THINKING?
SUBJECTS TO EXAMINE Part 1 Distinctions between the brain and the mind Critical thinking defined Part 2 Characteristics of critical thinkers The role of intuition Part 3 Basic activities in critical thinking Critical thinking and writing Critical thinking and discussion
CRITICAL THINKERS WHAT ARE THEIR CHARACTERISTICS?
CHARACTERISTICS OF CRITICAL THINKERS As we have previously noted, one characteristic of a critical thinker is the ability to ask appropriate questions Another is control of one’s mental activities John Dewey once observed that more of our time than most of us care to admit is spent “trifling with mental pictures, random recollections, pleasant but unfounded hopes, flitting, half-developed impressions.”
CHARACTERISTICS OF CRITICAL THINKERS (CONT.) Good critical thinkers have learned how to stop the casual, semiconscious drift of images when they wish and how to fix their minds on one specific matter, examine it carefully, and form a judgment about it They have learned how to take charge of their thoughts, to use their minds actively (problem solving) as well as passively (daydreaming)
CHARACTERISTICS OF CRITICAL THINKERS (CONT.) Critical Thinkers Are honest with themselves, acknowledging what they don’t know, recognizing their limitations, and being watchful of their own errors Uncritical Thinkers Pretend they know more than they do, ignore their limitations, and assume their views are error-free
CHARACTERISTICS OF CRITICAL THINKERS (CONT.) Critical Thinkers Regard problems and controversial issues as exciting challenges Uncritical Thinkers Regard problems and controversial issues as nuisances or threats to their ego
CHARACTERISTICS OF CRITICAL THINKERS (CONT.) Critical Thinkers Strive for understanding, keep curiosity alive, remain patient with complexity, and are ready to invest time to overcome confusion Uncritical Thinkers Are impatient with complexity and thus would rather remain confused than make the effort to understand
CHARACTERISTICS OF CRITICAL THINKERS (CONT.) Critical Thinkers Base judgments on evidence rather than personal preferences, deferring judgment whenever evidence is insufficient; they revise judgments when new evidence reveals error Uncritical Thinkers Base judgments on first impressions and gut reactions; they are unconcerned about the amount or quality of evidence and cling to their views steadfastly
CHARACTERISTICS OF CRITICAL THINKERS (CONT.) Critical Thinkers Are interested in other people’s ideas and so are willing to read and listen attentively, even when they tend to disagree with the other person Uncritical Thinkers Are preoccupied with themselves and their own opinions and are so unwilling to pay attention to others’ views. At the first sign of disagreement, they tend to think, “How can I refute this?”
CHARACTERISTICS OF CRITICAL THINKERS (CONT.) Critical Thinkers Recognize that extreme views (whether “conservative” or “liberal”) are seldom correct, so they avoid them, practice fairmindedness, and seek a balanced view Uncritical Thinkers Ignore the need for balance and give preference to views that support their established views
CHARACTERISTICS OF CRITICAL THINKERS (CONT.) Critical Thinkers Practice restraint, controlling their feelings rather than being controlled by them, and thinking before acting Uncritical Thinkers Tend to follow their feelings and act impulsively
SO? As the desirable qualities suggest, critical thinking depends on mental discipline Effective thinkers Exert control over their mental life Consciously and intentionally direct their thoughts rather than being directed by them Withhold their endorsement of any idea, even their own, until they have tested and confirmed it
SO? (CONT.) Dewey equated mental discipline with freedom: “If a man’s actions are not guided by thoughtful conclusions, then they are guided by inconsiderate impulse, unbalanced appetite, caprice, or the circumstances of the moment. To cultivate unhindered, unreflective external activity is to foster enslavement, for it leaves the person at the mercy of appetite, sense, and circumstance.”
QUESTIONS TO PONDER Who is John Dewey, and why should you care? What is the relationship between proper nutrition and the ability to concentrate? How does what we see and hear affect our ability to be a critical thinker? Why is being able to think critically important in real life? Give at least three examples of where it would be useful What is the relationship between reading, writing, and thinking?
WHERE DOES IT FIT IN? WHAT ABOUT INTUITION?
THE ROLE OF INTUITION Intuition is commonly defined as immediate perception or comprehension of something – that is, sensing or understanding something without the use of reasoning Another way to say it: quick and ready insight
THE ROLE OF INTUITION (CONT.) Some everyday experiences seem to support this definition You meet a stranger and instantly “know” you will be partners for life When a car salesman tells you the quoted price is the “rock bottom price,” your intuition may have told you she was lying Of the first day of a new job, you have a strong sense something will not go right with it
THE ROLE OF INTUITION (CONT.) Sometimes even important “discoveries” seem to have occurred instantaneously The German chemist Kekule found the solution to a difficult chemical problem by slipping into a daydream and seeing the image of a snake swallowing its tail This provided a clue to the structure of the benzene molecule, which is a ring of atoms rather than a chain of atoms
THE ROLE OF INTUITION (CONT.) This may suggest that intuition is very different from reasoning and not influenced by it Should we accept this conclusion at face value? Let’s look more carefully at this subject
THE ROLE OF INTUITION (CONT.) Breakthrough ideas favor trained, active minds It is unusual for someone totally untrained in a subject to make a significant new discovery about that subject If Kekule had been a plumber, it is unlikely that he would have received the intuition for which he is famous
THE ROLE OF INTUITION (CONT.) Some intuitions eventually prove to be mistaken and in error The person you were instantly attracted to turns out to be not your lifelong partner but someone for whom you develop a strong dislike The car salesman’s final price may have proved to be exactly that – the final price Instead of the job going poorly, it goes exceptionally well
THE ROLE OF INTUITION (CONT.) It is difficult to make an overall assessment of the quality of our intuitions because we tend to forget those that prove mistaken in much the same way a gambler forgets his losses Experiment: Keep track of your “intuitions” in a journal, and evaluate them to see which are actually accurate or come to pass
THE ROLE OF INTUITION (CONT.) These facts have lead some scholars to conclude that intuition is simply a consequence of thinking Sometimes you make a quick decision without being aware you’re thinking about something, causing you to experience “precognition” Sometimes your “unconscious problem solver” is at work and it brings you ideas from “out of the blue” – a delayed result of thinking
SO? Is intuition independent of and different from thinking? Or not? The most prudent answer seems to be “sometimes yes, sometimes no” Therefore, because intuition is unreliable, it is not prudent to rely on it in place of thinking That is not to say it should be ignored! But rather it should be properly evaluated
FOR NEXT TIME Part 1 Distinctions between the brain and the mind Critical thinking defined Part 2 Characteristics of critical thinkers The role of intuition Part 3 Basic activities in critical thinking Critical thinking and writing Critical thinking and discussion