What is Critical Thinking? Many people have heard this expression, but do not know exactly what it means. If summed up in one sentence, critical thinking is the ability to distinguish the appearance and essence of knowledge. With this clear, we can explore how to develop this critical capability. Criticism does not mean criticism, its actual meaning is closer to “reflection and judgment”. It is generally believed that the first person to define “critical thinking” was the American philosopher John Dewey. He calls it “reflective thinking” in How We Think. He believes: “(Reflective thinking is) active, continuous, careful consideration of ideas and identified knowledge; its way is to explore what kind of support the knowledge has and what conclusions can be drawn.” If people want to know objective things, they must think actively and actively. But active thinking does not equal active knowledge learning: a knowledgeable person is no different from a passive object if he does not have the ability to separate himself from knowledge. And another common sense we need to know is that the history of a discipline is made up of constant intellectual subversion. Therefore, the learning thinking of looking for standard answers is only applicable to exams, not to all aspects of life. In the final analysis, critical thinking is to cultivate active thinking, and active reflection is much more important than pure knowledge transfer.
For example, when faced with news events, we must be careful not to be influenced by emotions: emotions make people feel satisfied in the process of resonating with others, but ignore the logic chain behind the event, which leads to our language and behavior being judged by manipulative use. Even if the media of all parties are reporting the same event and stating the facts, there may be “intentional omission bias”, “source bias”, “event selection bias”, “reporting arrangement bias”, “labeling bias” and “Content interpretation bias” and other common manifestations of media position bias. Report bias is a manifestation of emotional interference (there may be various purposes behind it), so even factual reports cannot be completely “true”, “objective”, “fair” and “neutral”. In this era of divergent opinions and no distinction between true and false, it is very important to form an independent judgment.
1. What is critical thinking?
1. Critical Thinking
Whenever we mention critical thinking, we may unknowingly assume that “critical” is a derogatory term. In fact, according to the definition of British scholar Richard Paul, critical thinking refers to “rethinking of thinking”. That is to say, critical thinking “criticizes” the thinking process behind each point of view or conclusion, that is, whether the corresponding conclusion is obtained through careful and systematic thinking.
Critical thinking also has its drawbacks and is not omnipotent. Specifically: If the conclusion or opinion is based on feelings, conjectures, and speculations, critical thinking has no place.
2. Weak criticism and strong criticism
Richard Paul also made a distinction between critical thinking – weak critical thinking and strong critical thinking.
Weak criticism is to “fight over” all those who oppose oneself, resolutely resist and refute those views and arguments that are different from one’s own, refute the opponents speechless, and obediently admit defeat, as the ultimate goal of critical thinking. It does not matter whether one’s own views are close to truth and virtue. This destroys the inherently human and progressive character of critical thinking.
On the contrary, strong critical thinking requires us to ask critical questions about all propositions, not only “defying the sky, the ground, and the air”, but also “raising the bar” with our own views. Strong critical thinking does not necessarily require us to give up our original beliefs, it may make us stronger in our original beliefs.
The difference between the two types of critical thinking is that the former is closed and the latter is open.
So, if we want to be proud of a view we hold, it should be a view that we have chosen from a thousand sources.
2. How to think critically?
Since critical thinking is to improve the quality of thinking, make thinking more systematic and complete, and extract information from the rough, and remove the false and preserve the truth; then, we must first clarify the three elements of the thinking process—thesis, argumentation, and conclusion.
The thesis is the question or disagreement that triggers your thinking; the conclusion is the point of view or idea you want others to accept; the argument is the verification process from the thesis to the conclusion. A complete thinking needs to be consistent with the above three, and none of them are indispensable.
1. Thesis There are two
common themes: factual judgment and value proposition. Fact judgment is to describe the past, present and future of an objective phenomenon, and it is concerned with “what”. A value proposition is a judgment on the good or bad, right or wrong, or even ethical responsibility of thoughts and actions, and is concerned with “what should be.”
The reason to look for the thesis first is that we rarely mention the thesis in our daily life, but directly give a conclusion or an opinion. We may easily listen to opinions or express opinions without reflecting on them. When the brain is running at a high speed, it is possible to appear “the brain is idling and blank”, and there will be logical confusion and confusion. Therefore, it is very important to be able to anchor the conclusion to the thesis.
With any point of view, we must go back to the thesis and find out what the thesis itself is discussing, whether it is a factual judgment, a value proposition, or both. Then, check to see if the other party’s conclusion has strayed, and whether it is answering the thesis raised by him or us. By finding and clarifying the theme, it can help us cultivate concentration, not be confused by appearances, but directly attack the essence.
2. Conclusion The
conclusion is “what is your opinion”.
First, the establishment of the conclusion is often inseparable from the argument. If there is no argumentation process, it is easy to give a point of view or idea, we can only say that this is an “isolated” judgment and cannot be accepted by the public.
Secondly, we should pay attention to whether there is a stealing conclusion. Always remember: the conclusion is the end. If you take the wrong path in the process of “walking”, you will eventually come to another place that seems to be correct – you will never be able to get the true scriptures in Xiaoleiyin Temple.
Again, pay attention to whether the conclusion is excessively magnified, or even regard the conclusion as “truth”, and then demonstrate the rationality of the conclusion on this basis.
If a conclusion has been asserted, our argumentation process is not a derivation, but a mere maintenance of the conclusion.
Argument is the most complex. From the perspective of logic, argumentation involves using a series of premises to deduce a corresponding conclusion. Therefore, the argument involves two parts: one is the premise, and the other is the logical relationship between the premise and the conclusion.
Therefore, the rationality of the argumentation process lies in two points: one is the validity of the premises, and the other is the validity of the reasoning process that deduces the conclusion from the premises.
Premise is sometimes easy to find, such as “based on”, “reference”, “because” and other prompt words are telling us what the premise is.
Of course, the most typical is the syllogism (deductive method): major premise + minor premise → conclusion.
The most common questions asked about the validity of premises are: How reliable are the sources of information? Does it conflict with personal experience? Does it conflict with background knowledge?
The validity of an argument can be considered from two aspects: first, whether the reasoning method matches the degree of certainty of the conclusion; second, whether there is a jump in the reasoning process.
Finally, it should also be noted that if each agrees with the facts before attempting to explain why this is the case, this is an explanation, not an argument. Explanation and argument can easily be confused. Interpretation is based on identification with facts, whereas argumentation is based on non-identification.
In addition, there are still some details of critical thinking that need to be dealt with, such as the definition of “concept” and the presupposition of premise, which also requires caution.
3. The enemy of critical thinking
Of course , even if we master the method of critical thinking, we will still be constrained by some uncontrollable factors, mainly knowledge, way of thinking and irrational factors.
With the deepening of social division of labor, each of us cannot master all fields of knowledge. The limitations of knowledge often make us overwhelmed when faced with new problems.
At present, the limitations of knowledge are mainly manifested in two types: times and patterns.
In terms of times, such as today’s “post-90s” and “post-00s”, because they have not experienced the era of material scarcity, it is difficult to understand why parents like to hoard things, and why many old items at home are reluctant to throw away even if they are not needed.
For many things, if we only use the current knowledge and information to make judgments, instead of examining them in a longer period of time, many conclusions will be obstructed. Furthermore, it is also obvious that the pattern is limited in the present. Many people cannot see other dimensions of the world at all, and their personal boundaries are too small. Moreover, the pattern is often difficult to cultivate, unlike knowledge, which can be acquired by reading books and newspapers; it is often after experiencing events of different patterns that a person can truly break the limitations of the pattern and gain the cognition of another pattern.
What critical thinking can do is make you realize that you lack that pattern and make up for it in time.
2. Way of thinking
A popular way of thinking is “sponge thinking” – similar to a sponge being placed in water and fully absorbing the water. Sponge thinking is popular because it has two advantages:
first, in the face of an increasingly complex world, the more information we absorb, the better it is to improve our understanding of things, which will be in the future May lay the groundwork for more complex thinking.
Second, “sponge thinking” is essentially doing the work of collecting and organizing information, which means that we don’t need to rack our brains to think hard.
However, its shortcomings are also obvious: it simply absorbs knowledge and information without judging it.
Nowadays, all kinds of information are all around us, and it is impossible for a person’s experience to cover all the difficulties encountered in life. The scariest and most interesting thing in the world is thinking. Only by constantly maintaining curiosity and thinking can we make ourselves understand the world more deeply. And critical thinking is the “artifact” for making effective and correct judgments when you are faced with an unfamiliar field.