What is Critical Thinking?
In assessing the idea of critical thinking, I searched for a definition that seemed to mix well with my own original thoughts on this.
At seattlecentral.org, I found a definition that works for me:
"Reasonable reflective thinking that is focused on deciding what to believe or do. More precisely, it is assessing the authenticity, accuracy, and/or worth of knowledge claims and arguments. It requires careful, precise, persistent and objective analysis of any knowledge claim or belief to judge its validity and/or worth."
Some of the other definitions of critical thinking I found were a bit too stiff for me. A bit rigid, I guess.
From a Spiritual Place
If you've read through some of the other areas on my site, you know that I try as best as I can to look at life issues in a spiritual growth way. In the criticial thinking definition above, I found myself drawn to the words "reflective thinking".
To me, reflective thinking suggests an inner process that isn't always based on rigid facts. This probably goes against those "scientific", technical folks in the critical thinking community, as it should.
Personally, I feel that as we try to make sense of our thoughts and beliefs, it, of course, must be based on objective facts.
But, in my life, I've found that when I also mix in some of my subjective feelings (how does this make me feel?), that's when I've discovered those "ah ha!" moments and decisions that move me to the next level as a person.
What is critical thinking? It's understanding the benefits of critical thinking from not only an analysis standpoint, but from also listening to your higher, spiritual self.
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Judgment Based on Standards
With that said, you must realize that it's a process of reasoning things out, looking at the facts on both sides of an argument. It's understanding how our assumptions and critical thinking mix.
Critical thinking is a process of thinking yourself to self improvement and personal growth. Your goal is to carefully analyze why you should or shouldn't believe in a certain idea or concept.
The Greek roots of "critical" are: "kriticos" and "kriterion".
Kriticos = Discerning Judgment
Kriterion = Standards
What is critical thinking? It's a process where you're working on the ability of "discerning judgment based on standards".
We all think. Unfortunately, many people think thoughts that are biased, based on on hearsay, superstition, prejudice, etc.
If you allow yourself to go through life believing things to be true just because you were "brought up that way" or have accepted that you know all you need to know, you're in trouble. This leads to bad decisions, which leads to misery.
Look at your life. Have you fallen victim to this? Don't worry, I have too, and that's part of the reason this website exists: so I can explore my own life; where I've been and where I believe I can go.
And in the process, help you think along the same lines.
What is critical thinking? It's a process that most definitely requires self discipline. You must be disciplined in constantly re-assessing your thoughts and beliefs.
Why do you believe this or that to be true? Have you seen the facts? Have you accepted biased information from someone else who serves to gain from your false beliefs and thoughts? Have you accepted propaganda?
Have you considered the source of the information?
Even reading my site, do you accept all I write as absolute? You shouldn't. Some of my thinking and beliefs may not suit you. Therefore, as with all other information, you need to filter my words through your mind in a way that allows you to critically assess whether my ideas work for you or not.
Be self disciplined in your thinking.
Questioning it All
What is critical thinking?
It's a process that requires the constant use of questions. Questioning all information passing through your mind is a critical aspect of your thinking process.
When you read or hear something as absolute fact, begin questioning its validity and start looking for someone speaking about the direct opposite of that first viewpoint.
If you find that opposite thought, now question the two sources. Can you discern whether one has an agenda for their own gain, or are they just honestly passing on good information?
What is critical thinking? Part of it is not getting sucked in by a good "sales pitch", not getting caught in the "ether" of a good speaker.
How many politicians have we endured that were so great to listen to, yet later proved to be liars?
What if no one ever questioned the passionate arguments that the world was flat?
What if no one ever questioned the "FACT" that the universe revolved around the earth?
Develop a well trained mind.
Opening Your Mind
Keeping your mind open to all possibilities is so key to your ability to think critically.
Do you find yourself immediately closing your mind down as soon as someone suggests something that requires you to question a firm belief of yours?
It seems that many people think narrowly, where new ideas and thoughts are dismissed quite quickly.
And based on what? A process of thinking things out? Reflecting on both sides of the argument? Allowing time to give the issue careful analysis? Allowing the idea to enter the mind that, "Wow, I've believed something all my life that just isn't true based on this new, credible information"?
NO! Too many people refuse to research new ideas, instead rejecting it all because "I never heard that before, therefore I must be right in deciding it's wrong".
Sorry to get a bit cynical there, but you've probably encountered a person just like that once or twice in your life. You may even be that person ;-)
If so, I encourage you to re-think your critical thinking abilities.
What is critical thinking? It's accepting that you don't know it all. It's accepting responsibility in always searching out new information that can help you understand your world and other people better.
It's achieving an open mind.
Be in Control of Your Mind
What is critical thinking? It's really all about being in control of your mind. Being in charge by not letting your mind run "willy-nilly" with biased thoughts.
Why is this so important? Because if you own your mind, you own your life.
When you study how your mind works, stay self disciplined, and open your mind; all with a spiritual sense, you'll act less impulsively. You'll act in ways that are positive.
What is critical thinking? It's a process that allows you to question why you act in ways that are destructive to yourself. It allows you to monitor your actions, make corrections, and, in the process, improve your life.
It's a way to move toward the ancient Greek ideal of "living an examined life".
Change your life,
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