"Introduction to Critical Thinking / Logic"
Introduction to Critical Thinking / Logic Critical thinking is a domain-general thinking skill. The ability to think clearly and rationally is important whatever we choose to do. If you work in education, research, finance, management or the legal profession, then critical thinking is obviously important. But critical thinking skills are not restricted to a particular subject area. Being able to think well and solve problems systematically is an asset for any career. Critical thinking is very important in the new knowledge economy. The global knowledge economy is driven by information and technology. One has to be able to deal with changes quickly and effectively. The new economy places increasing demands on flexible intellectual skills, and the ability to analyse information and integrate diverse sources of knowledge in solving problems. Good critical thinking promotes such thinking skills, and is very important in the fast- changing workplace. Critical thinking enhances language and presentation skills. Thinking clearly and systematically can improve the way we express our ideas. In learning how to analyse the logical structure of texts, critical thinking also improves comprehension abilities. Critical thinking promotes creativity. To come up with a creative solution to a problem involves not just having new ideas. It must also be the case that the new ideas being generated are useful and relevant to the task at hand. Critical thinking plays a crucial role in evaluating new ideas, selecting the best ones and modifying them if necessary. Critical thinking is crucial for self- reflection. In order to live a meaningful life and to structure our lives accordingly, we need to justify and reflect on our values and decisions. Critical thinking provides the tools for this process of self- evaluation. Watson-Glaser Critical Thinking Appraisal (a well-known psychological test of critical thinking ability) a composite of attitudes, knowledge and skills. This composite includes: (1) attitudes of inquiry that involve an ability to recognize the existence of problems and an acceptance of the general need for evidence in support of what is asserted to be true; (2) knowledge of the nature of valid inferences, abstractions, and generalizations in which the weight or accuracy of different kinds of evidence are logically determined; and (3) skills in employing and applying the above attitudes and knowledge. Dr. Peter A. Facione (1990) "Critical Thinking: A Statement of Expert Consensus for Purposes of Educational Assessment and Instruction", a report for the American Philosophical Association "We understand critical thinking to be purposeful, self-regulatory judgment which results in interpretation, analysis, evaluation, and inference, as well as explanation of the evidential, conceptual, methodological, criteriological, or contextual considerations upon which that judgment is based. CT is essential as a tool of inquiry. As such, CT is a liberating force in education and a powerful resource in one's personal and civic life. While not synonymous with good thinking, CT is a pervasive and self-rectifying human phenomenon. The ideal critical thinker is habitually inquisitive, well- informed, trustful of reason, open-minded, flexible, fairminded in evaluation, honest in facing personal biases, prudent in making judgments, willing to reconsider, clear about issues, orderly in complex matters, diligent in seeking relevant information, reasonable in the selection of criteria, focused in inquiry, and persistent in seeking results which are as precise as the subject and the circumstances of inquiry permit. Thus, educating good critical thinkers means working toward this ideal. It combines developing CT skills with nurturing those dispositions which consistently yield useful insights and which are the basis of a rational and democratic society." Michael Scriven and Richard Paul, National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking, an organization promoting critical thinking in the US Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness. It entails the examination of those structures or elements of thought implicit in all reasoning: purpose, problem, or question-at-issue, assumptions, concepts, empirical grounding; reasoning leading to conclusions, implications and consequences, objections from alternative viewpoints, and frame of reference. Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally. It includes the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking. Someone with critical thinking skills is able to do the following : understand the logical connections between ideas identify, construct and evaluate arguments detect inconsistencies and common mistakes in reasoning solve problems systematically identify the relevance and importance of ideas reflect on the justification of one's own beliefs and values Logic As A Form of Critical Thinking The Sophists The second period of Greek philosophy occupies the entire fourth century before Christ. The problem which claims the interest of thinkers during this period is no longer the cosmological question, but man in his concreteness, namely, in his knowledge, his morality, his rights. Those who impersonated this new state of mind were the Sophists, philosophers from all parts of the Grecian world in search of fortune. They were said to possess and encyclopedic knowledge, and they offered, at a price (for the first time requested for teaching the liberal arts), to instruct youth in the art of governing. …cont The Sophists stopped at the data of experience, at empirical and not rational knowledge, and from this point of view they wished to judge the world of reality. This is why Socrates rose against them and established once and for all the fact that true knowledge means knowing through concepts. Never, perhaps, had the human mind made a greater advance in the philosophical field than that which was achieved after Socrates had shown in what true knowledge consists. First, Plato developed the Socratic concept, and finally Aristotle systematized the entire body of Greek thought. The results obtained in this period were to influence all subsequent ages. cont… Zeno of Elea (ca. 490-ca. 425 b.c.e.), a Greek philosopher and mathematician, is famous for his paradoxes, which deal with the continuity of motion. One form of the paradox is: If an object moves with constant speed along a straight line from point 0 to point 1, the object must first cover half the distance (1/2), then half the remaining distance (1/4), then half the remaining distance (1/8), and so on without end. The conclusion is that the object never reaches point 1. Because there is always some distance to be covered, motion is impossible. In another approach to this paradox, Zeno used an allegory telling of a race between a tortoise and Achilles (who could run 100 times as fast), where the tortoise started running 10 rods in front of Achilles. Because the tortoise always advanced 1/100 of the distance that Achilles advanced in the same time period, it was theoretically impossible for Achilles to pass him. Plato Many have interpreted Plato as stating that knowledge is justified true belief, an influential view which informed future developments in modern analytic epistemology. This interpretation is based on a reading of the Theaetetus wherein Plato argues that belief is to be distinguished from knowledge on account of justification. Really, in the Sophist, Statesman, Republic, and the Parmenides Plato himself associates knowledge with the apprehension of unchanging Forms and their relationships to one another (which he calls "expertise" in Dialectic). In the Meno, Socrates uses a geometrical example to expound Plato's view that knowledge in this latter sense is acquired by recollection. Socrates elicits a fact concerning a geometrical construction from a slave boy, who could not have otherwise known the fact (due to the slave boy's lack of education). The knowledge must be present, Socrates concludes, in an eternal, non-experiential form. Socratic Method The Socratic Method (or Method of Elenchus or Socratic Debate), named after the classical Greek philosopher, is a form of inquiry and debate between individuals with opposing viewpoints based on asking and answering questions to stimulate rational thinking and to illuminate ideas. It is a dialectical method, often involving an oppositional discussion in which the defense of one point of view is pitted against the defense of another; one participant may lead another to contradict himself in some way, strengthening the inquirer's own point. Aristotle's Logical Works: The Organon The ancient commentators grouped together several of Aristotle's treatises under the title Organon ("Instrument") and regarded them as comprising his logical works: Categories On Interpretation Prior Analytics Posterior Analytics Topics On Sophistical Refutations In fact, the title Organon reflects a much later controversy about whether logic is a part of philosophy (as the Stoics maintained) or merely a tool used by philosophy (as the later Peripatetics thought); calling the logical works "The Instrument" is a way of taking sides on this point. Aristotle himself never uses this term, nor does he give much indication that these particular treatises form some kind of group, though there are frequent cross-references between the Topics and the Analytics. On the other hand, Aristotle treats the Prior and Posterior Analytics as one work, and On Sophistical Refutations is a final section, or an appendix, to the Topics). To these works should be added the Rhetoric, which explicitly declares its reliance on the Topics.