It is often said that critical thinking is a way we humans think but not specifically what we humans are thinking about. Philosophers and Psychologists all seem to concur on the fact that we take the critical thinking process and utilize it as an ongoing progression that may stem from a simple observation or some unanswered question. In other words, the process of critical thinking is something that never truly ends, yet it often creates additional or more questions or provides an avenue for new levels of curiosity, open-mindedness, skepticism, or persistent reasoning.
This report aims to present more insights into the process of critical thinking from a philosophic point-of-view. The report tries to answer various questions like what is the importance of critical thinking, what elements of the process are essential, what tactics do people use to guide the complete thinking process. Critical thinking over the historical testimony of man has been a phenomenon that has changed and will continue to change. Critical thinking has evolved as man has evolved. "The movement of the information age has focused attention on good thinking as an important element of life success. These changing conditions require new outcomes, such as critical thinking, to be included as a focus of schooling." (Huitt, W., 1998)
With these new insights, the question is -- has man and his thinking process changed enough to contend with a world that has become extremely competitive, technologically motivated and driven by a global economic persistence that may have us as a species jeopardizing all other species. Will critical thinking in some way help us or hurt us deal with the twenty-first century and beyond?
Man has become the dominant species on the planet and this may be because we have been the best at adjusting to what the planet has to offer. One of the ways man has done this is by utilizing the thinking and logical aspects of the brain in such a way that we have surpassed all other species. Our brains offer a plethora of options for the various stimuli outside each of us and the process of critical thinking is one of those options.
People often assume that that the sole purpose of thinking critically is to find all possible faults in something and then systematically eliminate those faults. But the process of critical thinking is more than fault finding. Critical thinking has provided man with an important way of thinking about all that life and nature have to offer and allows each individual an opportunity to increase his or her understanding of any and all phenomenon. Critical thinking allows for something encouraging to be accomplished or that something negative can be seen from different perspective. The bottom line in regard to the process of critical thinking is that man is on a path of continuous learning.
As pointed out by William Huitt, a true definition of critical thinking is a moving target. The process has been defined and redefined over time as new philosophies and sciences took over the lead in our past. Consider that a definition of the thinking process was originally presented by the Pre-Freud thinkers and then later by the cognitive psychologists and philosophers and later again by the behaviorally oriented psychologists. Each spectrum offered new insights and each was not totally wrong but more important not totally right.
Critical thinking has been called "an ability to analyze facts, generate and organize ideas, defend opinions, make comparisons, draw inferences, evaluate arguments and solve problems," (Chance, 1986, p. 6), "a way of reasoning that demands adequate support for one's beliefs and an unwillingness to be persuaded unless support is forthcoming" (Tama, 1989, p. 64); "involving analytical thinking for the purpose of evaluating what is read" (Hickey, 1990, p. 175); "a conscious and deliberate process which is used to interpret or evaluate information and experiences with a set of reflective attitudes and abilities that guide thoughtful beliefs and actions" (Mertes,1991, p.24); "...active, systematic process of understanding and evaluating arguments. An argument provides an assertion about the properties of some object or the relationship between two or more objects and evidence to support or refute the assertion. Critical thinkers acknowledge that there is no single correct way to understand and evaluate arguments and that all attempts are not necessarily successful" (Mayer & Goodchild, 1990, p. 4); and " ... reasonable reflective thinking focused on deciding what to believe or do (Ennis, 1992).
Since a definition of critical thinking has been elusive, maybe defining the elements of the process may help to clarify it more. The key is that there is an external stimulus that creates a need for a response and all men seem to follow this systematic pattern.
(Huitt, W., 1998)
Critical thinking therefore start with something disconcerting that makes us begin to think that something is not right or even too right. From this, man begins to question what it is that they already know compared to what this new stimulus has offered. These stimuli can of course be either negative or positive. For example, some cartoons may be considered as violent for some parents and an educational program may be considered nonviolent. Both parents and children watching those cartoons interpret these shows in their own way and based on existing knowledge may create some premise of a show's value.
Critical thinking as a tool helps people learn from their own experiences. There has been a great deal of proof that the entire process are incorporates all of the senses and feelings. But humans also incorporate other aspects of the human psyche such as physical emotions and feelings, rational and logic, experiences, anxieties and most of all internal fears. From this comes a value system which is the foundation of a person's beliefs. "There is then an affective disposition to plan and take action in order for the critical thinking to act as a guide to behavior. The cognitive components of goal-setting and self-regulation must be activated in order to develop and implement a plan of action. As action is taken it results in feedback from the environment and a corresponding increase in procedural knowledge. This new learning is then available as either necessary corrective action is taken to guide action toward the desired goal based on beliefs or a new situation presents itself that requires additional critical thinking." (Huitt, W., 1998)
With that being said, because so many elements of the person are involved, each person can experience critical thinking as a process to be an exciting opportunity to see things in new way which may or may not provide reassurance that they are in control of their environment. Of course there are also individuals that clearly resist the process of critical thinking and therefore they refuse to let go of thoughts, feelings, emotions and other inherent psychological Achilles' heals. Since the majority of us no longer have to hunt for survival and we certainly do not have to face too many Saber Tooth Tigers on the way to school, those individuals refusing to implement the critical thinking process and its elements have the luxury of holding on to the past and not being overly concerned with the future of perpetual change. There are many tactics that man uses for critical thinking.
Critical thinking is based on logic and an ability to draw conclusions from a specific body of knowledge or information. This seems to have been a gift bestowed on men because we as a species have been using logic throughout our existence. Our current existence is proof that we critically evaluated certain situations in order to survive and evolve.
Although critical thinking as a form of logic where man actually has recorded making inferences can be traced back only as far as Aristotle around 350 B.C., there are too many pyramids and other man made decision trees left behind as evidence of the critical thinking process to assume that only modern man utilized this tool.
Critical thinking throughout history therefore represents an understanding of logical thinking should focus on how the application of logical concepts or thinking can be applied to basic reasoning and problem-solving. Man has figured out that by successful recognizing certain patterns and distinctions, he can find the truth or knowledge in a reliable fashion.
Our modern issues have provided a critical think tactic known as problem solving into every business office in the world. Even jocks are now expected to class their classes so they can no longer leave their brains in the locker room.
From a business perspective, we are in an age of information so everyone wants to be able to think critically or be considered an outcast. We will be solving problems and making decisions in all aspects of our lives so a logical approach to problem solving must be available to us.
Today, problem solving involves a person or group to be able to clearly identify or recognize that…