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What is Critical Thinking?

What is Critical Thinking?

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What is Critical Thinking?

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  1. What is Critical Thinking? Part 1

  2. Source Material • The information for this critical thinking class comes primarily from Ruggiero’s Beyond Feelings: A Guide to Critical Thinking, 8thedition • That textbook is located on our class website in the Critical Thinking folder • Other sources include • http://philosophy.hku.hk/think • http://www.criticalthinking.org

  3. Our Approach • Listen 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 finished • You may want to review the material on your own at home, the library, or on campus as you prepare your notebook • Also, 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 month

  4. Subjects to Examine • Part 1 • Distinctions between the brain and the mind • Critical thinking defined • Part 2 • Characteristics of critical thinkers • The role of intuition • Part 3 • Basic activities in critical thinking • Critical thinking and writing • Critical thinking and discussion

  5. Subjects to Examine • Part 1 • Distinctions between the brain and the mind • Critical thinking defined • Part 2 • Characteristics of critical thinkers • The role of intuition • Part 3 • Basic activities in critical thinking • Critical thinking and writing • Critical thinking and discussion

  6. Subjects to Examine • Part 1 • Distinctions between the brain and the mind • Critical thinking defined • Part 2 • Characteristics of critical thinkers • The role of intuition • Part 3 • Basic activities in critical thinking • Critical thinking and writing • Critical thinking and discussion

  7. Part 1The brain and the mind What’s the difference between them?

  8. The Brain vs The Mind • What 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 researchers • Has science yet been able to give us an answer?

  9. The Brain vs The Mind (cont.) • Research shows that while the brain is necessary for thought, it is not sufficient for thought • That means, just because you have a brain doesn’t mean you automatically know how to use it to think • The brain is a physical entity • The mind is a metaphysical entity • They are connected somehow, but they are not the same thing

  10. The Brain vs The Mind (cont.) • Physical means you can locate it in time and in space • Your brain is found inside your cranium • It is connected to your spine so you can actually DO the things you THINK about • Its activity can be measured in a number of ways • Electrically • Chemically

  11. The 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 different • Try 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 brain • It is a term that describes “where” thinking occurs • Where are thoughts and ideas? That is a question for the philosophers to wrestle with

  12. The Brain vs The Mind (cont.) • Two general points of view regarding the mind • The 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

  13. The Brain vs The Mind (cont.) • Our approach is based on the latter view, though we cannot totally ignore the former • The brain is bicameral – meaning it has two lobes, or chambers, or hemispheres • The 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”

  14. Potential 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 • http://www.learn-to-draw-right.com/

  15. What does a functioning brain look like? For the visual learners in the crowd

  16. Critical Thinking Defined A working definition

  17. “Feeling” vs “Thinking” • Before we can define critical thinking, we need to understand something • It 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 mind • These terms are often used interchangeably, sometimes with confusing consequences

  18. What is “Feeling”? • Feeling is a subjective response that reflects one’s emotions, sentiments, or desires • Feelings generally occur spontaneously rather than through a conscious mental act • We 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 help • Feelings arise automatically • This is very helpful to remember when you are consciously trying to understand whether you are “feeling” or “thinking”

  19. What is “Feeling”? (cont.) • “Feeling” is useful for directing our attention to matters we should think about • I feel hungry, so I should eat • I feel bad about being such a jerk, so I should apologize • I 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

  20. What is “Feeling”? (cont.) • Some feelings are honorable, beneficial, even noble; others are not • Sometimes 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 actions • What’s the solution? • LEARN TO THINK!

  21. What is “Thinking”? • “Thinking” is a conscious mental process performed to solve a problem, make a decision, or gain understanding • Whereas feeling has no purpose beyond expressing itself, thinking aims beyond itself to knowledge or action • This is not to say that thinking is infallible • We will expose errors in thinking so we can learn how to avoid them • But thinking is the most reliable guide to action we currently possess

  22. Critical Thinking Defined • Critical thinking is the process by which we test claims and arguments and determine which have merit and which do not • Critical thinking is involved in our search for answers, our quest for the truth • Not surprisingly, one of the most important techniques used in critical thinking is the use of probing questions

  23. “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?

  24. Misconceptions About Critical Thinking Being able to support one’s beliefs with reasons makes one a critical thinker

  25. Misconceptions About Critical Thinking (cont.) • Being able to support one’s beliefs with reasons makes one a critical thinker • FALSE • Virtually everyone has reasons to support what they believe, however weak those reasons may be • The test of critical thinking is whether the reasons are goodandsufficient

  26. Misconceptions About Critical Thinking Critical thinkers never imitate others in thought or action

  27. Misconceptions About Critical Thinking (cont.) • Critical thinkers never imitate others in thought or action • FALSE • If that were the case, then every eccentric person would be a critical thinker, which is not the case • Critical thinking means making sound decisions, regardless of how common or uncommon those decisions are

  28. Misconceptions About Critical Thinking Critical thinking is having a lot of right answers in your head

  29. Misconceptions About Critical Thinking (cont.) • Critical thinking is having a lot of right answers in your head • FALSE • There’s nothing wrong with having right answers, of course • But critical thinking involves the process of finding answers when they are not so readily available, meaning it takes work!

  30. 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 Thinking Critical thinking cannot be learned, you’re either born with it or you’re not

  31. Misconceptions About Critical Thinking (cont.) • Critical thinking cannot be learned, you’re either born with it or you’re not • FALSE • Critical thinking is simply a matter of habit • The most careless, sloppy thinker can become a critical thinker by developing the characteristics of a critical thinker • This is not to say that all people have equal thinking potential, but everyone can achieve dramatic improvement

  32. For Next Time • Part 1 • Distinctions between the brain and the mind • Critical thinking defined • Part 2 • Characteristics of critical thinkers • The role of intuition • Part 3 • Basic activities in critical thinking • Critical thinking and writing • Critical thinking and discussion