In the classrooms I’ve been in, the word ‘critical,’ comes up frequently; however, the pair of critical thought comes up less frequently. As though one can be anything but critical toward the world – not in the sense that you are agitated by or critiquing your experiences often, but more that everybody is always actively trying to configure and re-interpret their paradigm toward new stimuli. Critical thinking training, though, is an odd framework to consider the idea of improving your registry of the world.
I don’t have the hubris to pretend that this is an end-all answer, but for those of you who are self-reflecting and wondering where and how to begin critically thinking, the post that follows may have some guidance and starting points for you. In fact, the more I read, the older I grow, the more I come to terms with in my own experiences the less I feel confident about an objective answer toward anything. If at all a hopeful sign, this lack of confidence actually inspires me – because I don’t pretend to know anything objectively, I am freed from the reigns of a tried-and-true course to follow for my life and my intellectual stimulations. Some days I’m reading encyclopedias of plants, some I’m diving into underrepresented Fado musicians, and some I’m trying to glean about the most recent drama between Twitch influencers. No matter your cup of tea, there is a degree of critical thought that can go into making, in my opinion, everything you socio-emotionally consume that much more delectable.
Critical thinking for the world
Critical thinking involves analyzing and evaluating information and arguments in a logical and objective way, rather than simply accepting things at face value. This approach can help individuals and groups to make more informed and reasoned decisions, which can have a positive impact on various aspects of society.
For example, critical thinking can help to promote fair and just decision-making, as it allows individuals to consider multiple perspectives and to evaluate the evidence and arguments being presented. It can also help to reduce the spread of misinformation and to promote the development of more accurate and reliable knowledge.
Interpersonal interactions are improved through critical thinking as well. First, it can help individuals to communicate more effectively by allowing them to clearly articulate their thoughts and ideas, and to listen actively to the perspectives of others. This can lead to more productive and respectful conversations, as individuals are able to consider multiple viewpoints and to consider the evidence and reasoning behind different positions.
Additionally, critical thinking can help individuals to navigate complex social situations more effectively by allowing them to analyze and evaluate the various factors at play. For example, they may be better able to identify the underlying causes of conflicts or to devise creative solutions to problems.
To begin critical thinking training
Yes, it is possible to train yourself in critical thinking. Critical thinking is a skill that can be developed and improved over time through practice and effort. Here are some tips for how you can train yourself in critical thinking:
- Practice analyzing and evaluating information: Seek out a variety of sources of information and practice analyzing and evaluating them. This could include news articles, research papers, or other texts. Consider the credibility of the source, the evidence they present, and the logic of their arguments.
- Reflect on your own thought processes: Take the time to reflect on how you come to your conclusions and decisions. Consider what assumptions you are making and whether they are justified.
- Learn from others: Seek out opportunities to engage with others who have different perspectives and viewpoints. This can help you to consider a wider range of ideas and challenge your own assumptions.
- Practice asking questions: Cultivate a habit of asking questions and seeking clarification when you encounter new information or ideas. This can help you to better understand the information and to identify any gaps or weaknesses in the arguments being presented.
- Seek out diverse perspectives: Make an effort to expose yourself to a wide range of perspectives and ideas, rather than just those that align with your own beliefs. This can help you to develop a more nuanced understanding of the world and to consider a greater range of viewpoints.
Much of what struggles an individual in learning to think more critically can be in the form of identifying and responding coherently to biases, finding reliable sources of information or reliable spreads of information, devoting the proper time and resources to fully thinking about something, and the day-in and day-out triumph over less consequential modes of engagement.
Surveys, schools, and literature to improve critical thinking skills
There have been many scholars and philosophers throughout history who are known for their critical thinking skills and contributions to the field of critical thinking. Often people start with recommending logicians, ethos, and moralists like Socrates, Descartes, Locke, Kant, and Hegel. These individuals all have foundational respect for various schools of philosophy like the following:
- Analytic philosophy: Analytic philosophy is a tradition that emerged in the 20th century and is characterized by its emphasis on clear and logical reasoning. It often involves analyzing concepts and arguments in a precise and systematic way, and is concerned with the logical structure and foundations of knowledge.
- Skepticism: Skepticism is a philosophical tradition that is characterized by a critical and questioning approach to knowledge and beliefs. Skeptics argue that it is important to be skeptical of claims and to subject them to rigorous examination in order to determine their truth or falsity.
- Rationalism: Rationalism is a philosophical tradition that emphasizes the role of reason and logical argument in understanding the world. Rationalists argue that knowledge can be acquired through the use of reason, rather than through sensory experience.
- Empiricism: Empiricism is a philosophical tradition that emphasizes the role of sensory experience in understanding the world. Empiricists argue that knowledge is derived from experience and that observations and experimentation are essential for understanding the world.
In truth, most of what you read and interact with can be classified as improving your critical thinking skills. To train critical thinking appropriately, it is less about what exactly the subject of your attention is and more about your ability to complicate and attach detail, association, and interpretation to the subject of your attention. Whether something is popular-culture and not regarded critically by the masses or not is of no difference to whether you personally find intricate meaning within.
In the context of a reductionist modernity, it is up to us to rediscover that for every promotion of a machinic intersection there corresponds a specific constellation of Universes of value from the moment a partial nonhuman enunciation has been instituted. Biological machines promote living Universes which differentiate themselves into vegetable becomings, animal becomings. Musical machines establish themselves against a background of sonorous Universes which have been constantly modified since the great polyphonic mutation. Technical machines install themselves at the intersection of the most complex and heterogeneous enunciative components.Chaosmosis, Felix Guattari
Some questions you might consider beginning with understanding a subject more critically are: what are the acting references within this material, and what conversations do they inspire? what emotional resonances does this material carry for you? if everything about the material was made from a choice, what are the choices being made most clearly and what are some alternative options for those choices?
Clean your belief palate with critical thinking
Critical thinking can be like a tool that helps us to “clean up” or clarify our thoughts and beliefs. Just as a tool can be used to tidy up a cluttered space, critical thinking can help us to organize and clarify our thoughts and beliefs, eliminating any confusion or inconsistencies. This can lead to a greater sense of clarity and understanding, which can in turn help us to navigate the world with greater confidence and purpose.
Improved critical thinking skills can have a range of cognitive and spiritual benefits. Here are a few examples:
- Improved problem-solving skills: Critical thinking involves analyzing and evaluating information and arguments in a logical and objective way, which can help individuals to identify and solve problems more effectively.
- Enhanced decision-making abilities: Critical thinking allows individuals to consider a range of options and to evaluate the pros and cons of each in a more informed and reasoned way. This can lead to better decision-making abilities.
- Greater clarity and understanding: Critical thinking helps individuals to organize and clarify their thoughts and beliefs, which can lead to a greater sense of clarity and understanding.
- Enhanced creativity: Critical thinking involves approaching problems and ideas in a flexible and open-minded way, which can foster creativity and the development of new ideas.
- Improved communication skills: Critical thinking allows individuals to articulate their thoughts and ideas more clearly and effectively, which can enhance their communication skills.
Certain aspects of capitalism can create incentives that may be incompatible with critical thinking. For example, some critics of capitalism argue that the profit motive can lead businesses to prioritize short-term gains over long-term sustainability or to prioritize their own interests over the common good. Additionally, the pursuit of profits can sometimes lead to a focus on marketing and sales techniques that aim to persuade individuals to make decisions based on emotional appeals rather than logical analysis.
In piecing together detached statements, I remember that some spirit once said to me: “We do nothing singly, every. act is done by a number at the same instant.” Their perfection is a shared purpose or idea.A Vision, W.B. Yeats
I connect them in my imagination with an early conviction of mine, that the creative power of the lyric poet depends upon his accepting some one of a few traditional attitudes, lover, sage, hero, scorner of life. They bring us back to the spiritual norm
If you are looking to learn more about emboldening your emotional, intuitive, or communicative prowess, consider looking into my courses designed for independent, adult learning in the Espial. With current subjects covering the themes of fear, reward, and shame, rest assured you will be able to complicate and challenge your preconceived understandings of some complicated matters.
And as always, if you have anything you’d like my thoughts on, feel free to reach out and contact me.