Presentation on theme: "What is Critical Thinking?"— Presentation transcript:
1What is Critical Thinking? Welcome to the course entitled “What is Critical Thinking?”Part 1
2Source MaterialThe information for this critical thinking class comes primarily from Ruggiero’s Beyond Feelings: A Guide to Critical Thinking, 8th editionThat textbook is located on our class website in the Critical Thinking folderOther sources includeI mention these sources to you so that you can verify my findings, or to do further research, should you desire to do so.
3Our ApproachListen carefully and take notes in your dual entry notebook on the subject matter, as there will be an exam on all three parts once we are finishedYou may want to review the material on your own at home, the library, or on campus as you prepare your notebookAlso, keep your eye out for something interesting that you can “own” and teach the class about in a five to ten minute presentation later this monthThis course is intended to give you a solid introduction to the subject of critical thinking and the methods by which it functions. Our approach will be to …
4Subjects to Examine Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Distinctions between the brain and the mindCritical thinking definedPart 2Characteristics of critical thinkersThe role of intuitionPart 3Basic activities in critical thinkingCritical thinking and writingCritical thinking and discussionIn this three-part series, we will examine the following subjects.
5Subjects to Examine Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Distinctions between the brain and the mindCritical thinking definedPart 2Characteristics of critical thinkersThe role of intuitionPart 3Basic activities in critical thinkingCritical thinking and writingCritical thinking and discussion
6Subjects to Examine Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Distinctions between the brain and the mindCritical thinking definedPart 2Characteristics of critical thinkersThe role of intuitionPart 3Basic activities in critical thinkingCritical thinking and writingCritical thinking and discussion
7Part 1 The brain and the mind What’s the difference between them?
8The Brain vs The MindWhat is the relationship between “your mind” – where your thinking seems to happen, and the physical matter called “your brain”?This is a problem that has been long wrestled with by philosophers and researchersHas science yet been able to give us an answer?
9The Brain vs The Mind (cont.) Research shows that while the brain is necessary for thought, it is not sufficient for thoughtThat means, just because you have a brain doesn’t mean you automatically know how to use it to thinkThe brain is a physical entityThe mind is a metaphysical entityThey are connected somehow, but they are not the same thingWe need a brain for thought to occur, but that’s not all that’s required for thinking.
10The Brain vs The Mind (cont.) Physical means you can locate it in time and in spaceYour brain is found inside your craniumIt is connected to your spine so you can actually DO the things you THINK aboutIts activity can be measured in a number of waysElectricallyChemically
11The Brain vs The Mind (cont.) Metaphysical means “beyond the physical”I am not referring to a “New Age” concept, but a technical term that means something differentTry as you may, you can examine a brain physically and never locate an idea or thought, because ideas exist “beyond” (which is what “meta” means) the physical brainIt is a term that describes “where” thinking occursWhere are thoughts and ideas? That is a question for the philosophers to wrestle with
12The Brain vs The Mind (cont.) Two general points of view regarding the mindThe mind is passive, a blank slate on which experience writes (John Locke)The mind is active, a vehicle by which we take the initiative and exercise our free will (G.W. Leibnitz)It is very likely that the truth lies somewhere between these two ideas
13The Brain vs The Mind (cont.) Our approach is based on the latter view, though we cannot totally ignore the formerThe brain is bicameral – meaning it has two lobes, or chambers, or hemispheresThe lobes are connected by a thick band of tissue that acts as a switchboard between the hemispheres, called the corpus callosum, or “tough body”Certain characteristics seem to describe the functions of the right and left “brains”
14Potential probing questions What are the parts of the brain and what do they do? Which parts of the brain are connected with thinking, and which parts aren’t?Who is John Locke, and why should I care? Who is G.W. Leibnitz, and why should I care?How does the “left brain” differ in function from the “right brain”? How do we know?What is the difference between the “Mind” and the “Brain”?For further learning
15What does a functioning brain look like? For the visual learners in the crowd
16Here’s an MRI scan of somebody’s brain, with a black arrow in the top center of the slide pointing out the thick white band of tissue that is the corpus callosum, the structure that joins the two hemispheres and allows them to “talk” to one another.
17Here’s an artist’s interpretation of the differences between the left and right hemispheres and how they function.Left brain:I am the left brain. I am a scientist. A mathematician. I love the familiar. I categorize. I am accurate. Linear. Analytical. Strategic. I am practical. Always in control. A master of words and language. Realistic. I calculate equations and play with numbers. I am order. I am logic. I know exactly who I am.Right brain:I am the right brain. I am creativity. A free spirit. I am passion. Yearning. Sensuality. I am the sound of roaring laughter. I am taste. The feeling of sand beneath bare feet. I am movement. Vivid colors. I am the urge to paint on an empty canvas. I am boundless imagination. Art. Poetry. I sense. I feel. I am everything I wanted to be.Fortunately, all of these things are true of all of us, to the extent that our brains are fully functioning. When we are out of balance, and are dominant in one hemisphere, we don’t always see things the way they really are.
18Left brain: the world of cubicles, on task, dealing with particulars, the place where work is accomplished, which we leave in search of pleasure and funRight brain: the world of green grass and play, meandering, wondering, and seeking new directions according to “the big picture”
21“Feeling” vs “Thinking” Before we can define critical thinking, we need to understand somethingIt is very important to distinguish between what is meant by “feeling” and what is meant by “thinking”Unfortunately, people say “I feel” and “I think” without understanding that these are two distinctly different operations of the mindThese terms are often used interchangeably, sometimes with confusing consequencesBefore we get there, let’s talk a little bit about thinking vs feeling. Let us dispense straight away with the notion that one is better than the other. We are required to engage in both. But we have to understand how they work together so that we are not a slave to our passions or stuck in a box.
22What is “Feeling”?Feeling is a subjective response that reflects one’s emotions, sentiments, or desiresFeelings generally occur spontaneously rather than through a conscious mental actWe don’t have to use our minds to feel angry when we are insulted, afraid when we are threatened, or compassionate when we see someone in need of helpFeelings arise automaticallyThis is very helpful to remember when you are consciously trying to understand whether you are “feeling” or “thinking”
23What is “Feeling”? (cont.) “Feeling” is useful for directing our attention to matters we should think aboutI feel hungry, so I should eatI feel bad about being such a jerk, so I should apologizeI feel happy when I learn, so I should learn more!It can also provide us the necessary enthusiasm and commitment required to complete arduous mental tasks, like course work required for graduation ;-)However, feeling is never a good substitute for thinking because it is notoriously unreliable
24What is “Feeling”? (cont.) Some feelings are honorable, beneficial, even noble; others are notSometimes we “feel” like doing things that will harm us – such as smoking pot, or telling off our parents, or refusing to be responsible for our own actionsWhat’s the solution?LEARN TO THINK!
25What is “Thinking”?“Thinking” is a conscious mental process performed to solve a problem, make a decision, or gain understandingWhereas feeling has no purpose beyond expressing itself, thinking aims beyond itself to knowledge or actionThis is not to say that thinking is infallibleWe will expose errors in thinking so we can learn how to avoid themBut thinking is the most reliable guide to action we currently possess
26Critical Thinking Defined Critical thinking is the process by which we test claims and arguments and determine which have merit and which do notCritical thinking is involved in our search for answers, our quest for the truthNot surprisingly, one of the most important techniques used in critical thinking is the use of probing questionsCritical thinking is one of two broad categories of thinking; creative thinking is the otherOur focus right now is on the formerAt the core of critical thinking is the process of evaluation
27“Our country has lost its traditional values” What is the relationship between values and beliefs? Between values and convictions?What does “traditional” mean?How aware is the average person of his or her values? Is it possible that many people deceive themselves about their real values?Where do one’s values originate? Within the individual or outside? In thoughts or in feelings?Does education change a person’s values? If so, is this change always for the better?Should parents and teachers attempt to shape children’s values?Let’s look at a claim, some would call it a “platitude,” and see what kind of questions we could ask about this broad statement that would better help us understand how to evaluate it.Learning how to ask the question is a good first step to strengthening your critical thinking skills.
28Misconceptions About Critical Thinking Being able to support one’s beliefs with reasons makes one a critical thinkerLet’s unpack these a bit and see what the truth is.
29Misconceptions About Critical Thinking (cont.) Being able to support one’s beliefs with reasons makes one a critical thinkerFALSEVirtually everyone has reasons to support what they believe, however weak those reasons may beThe test of critical thinking is whether the reasons are good and sufficient
30Misconceptions About Critical Thinking Critical thinkers never imitate others in thought or action
31Misconceptions About Critical Thinking (cont.) Critical thinkers never imitate others in thought or actionFALSEIf that were the case, then every eccentric person would be a critical thinker, which is not the caseCritical thinking means making sound decisions, regardless of how common or uncommon those decisions are
32Misconceptions About Critical Thinking Critical thinking is having a lot of right answers in your head
33Misconceptions About Critical Thinking (cont.) Critical thinking is having a lot of right answers in your headFALSEThere’s nothing wrong with having right answers, of courseBut critical thinking involves the process of finding answers when they are not so readily available, meaning it takes work!
34Misconceptions About Critical Thinking Is it true that Einstein was a lousy student?In some ways, yes. When he was very young, Einstein's parents worried that he had a learning disability because he was very slow to learn to talk (he also avoided other children and had extraordinary temper tantrums.) When he started school, he did very well – he was a creative and persistent problem-solver – but he hated the rote, disciplined style of the teachers at his Munich school, and he dropped out when he was 15. Then, when he took the entrance examination for a polytechnic school in Zurich, he flunked (he passed the math part, but failed the botany, zoology and language sections.) Einstein kept studying and was admitted to the polytechnic institute the following year, but even then he continued to struggle: His professors thought that he was smart but much too pleased with himself, and some doubted that he would graduate. He did, but not by much – which is how the young physicist found himself working in the Swiss Patent Office instead of at a school or university.Misconceptions About Critical ThinkingCritical thinking cannot be learned, you’re either born with it or you’re not
35Misconceptions About Critical Thinking (cont.) Critical thinking cannot be learned, you’re either born with it or you’re notFALSECritical thinking is simply a matter of habitThe most careless, sloppy thinker can become a critical thinker by developing the characteristics of a critical thinkerThis is not to say that all people have equal thinking potential, but everyone can achieve dramatic improvement
36For Next Time Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Distinctions between the brain and the mindCritical thinking definedPart 2Characteristics of critical thinkersThe role of intuitionPart 3Basic activities in critical thinkingCritical thinking and writingCritical thinking and discussion