Blog - by Linda Elder with Richard Paul Archives

Welcome to the interactive blog of the Foundation for Critical Thinking. The chief contributor is Dr. Linda Elder, President and Senior Fellow of the Foundation. We also post articles and interviews from the Richard Paul Archives, featuring seminal work and ideas from throughout Dr. Paul's life and career. There may also be occasional contributions from other Foundation for Critical Thinking Fellows and Scholars.

Join us here often - we will share personal readings we find helpful to our own development, instructional designs and processes we recommend, and strategies for applying critical thinking to everyday-life situations.

Through this blog, we will also recommend videos and movies that can help you, your students, your colleagues, and your family internalize and contextualize critical thinking principles, or identify where and how critical thinking is missing. Look for our tips and questions connected with our recommendations.

Lastly, this blog will occasionally feature articles by community members that are exemplary in advancing critical thinking. If you would like to submit an article for consideration, please send them to us at
Richard Paul Archives
Mar 14, 2023 • 5d ago
[Part 1] Critical Thinking and the Critical Person

{"ops":[{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":"Abstract"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Written for "},{"insert":"Thinking: The Second International Conference (1987), "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"this paper explores a series of themes familiar to Richard Paul’s readers: that most school learning is irrational rather than rational, that there are two different modes of critical thinking and hence two different kinds of critical persons, that strong sense critical thinking is embedded in the ancient Socratic ideal of living an examined life, and that social studies instruction today is, in the main, sociocentric. Paul illustrates this last point with items from a state department of education critical thinking test and illustrations from a popular university-level introductory political science text. Paul closes with an argument in favor of a new emphasis on developing the critical thinking abilities of teachers: “If, in our haste to bring critical thinking into the schools, we ignore the need to develop long-term strategies for nurturing the development of teachers’ own critical powers and passions, we shall surely make the new emphasis on critical thinking into nothing more than a passing fad, or worse, into a new, more sophisticated form of social indoctrination and scholastic closedmindedness.”"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":"Introduction"},{"insert":"\n \nAs the clarion call for critical thinking instruction from kindergarten to graduate school grows louder, those responsible for classroom instruction, heavily overworked as they typically are, naturally look for simple answers to the question, “What is critical thinking?”, answers that generate routine and simple in-service strategies. Few see, in fact many "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"resist "},{"insert":"seeing, how much of what is deeply ingrained in standard instructional procedures and theory needs serious reformation before students truly become critical thinkers in their daily personal, professional, and civic lives.\n \nThis chapter clarifies and develops some of the theoretical and practical implications of the concept of critical thinking. I consider the work of some of the leading critical thinking theorists. I contrast my views with the general approach of cognitive psychologists. I use social studies throughout to illustrate the problem. I, along with most critical thinking theorists, believe that global insights into the multifaceted obstacles to critical reflection, inquiry, and discussion on the part of students, teachers, and people in general are crucial to sound design of critical thinking instruction. Such insights are severely limited unless one clearly and coherently grasps the “big picture.” For example, few pay attention to John Passmore’s claims that “being critical can be taught only by persons who can themselves freely participate in critical discussion” and that, “In many systems of public instruction . . . it is a principal object of teacher training to turn out teachers who will firmly discourage free critical discussion.” Rarely do teachers grasp where and when “free critical discussion” is essential, what it means to conduct it, and what is required to empower students to pursue it with understanding and self-command. What follows, I hope, contributes something to those foundational understandings, to the insights on which successful critical thinking instruction depends.\n \n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":"Rational and Irrational Learning"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\nAll rational learning presupposes rational assent. And, though we sometimes forget it, all learning is not automatically or even commonly rational. Much that we learn in everyday life is quite irrational. It is quite possible – and indeed the bulk of human learning is unfortunately of this character – to come to believe any number of things without knowing how or why. It is quite possible, in other words, to believe for irrational reasons: because those around us believe, because we are rewarded for believing, because we are afraid to disbelieve, because our vested interest is served by belief, because we are more comfortable with belief, because we have ego identified ourselves, our image, or our personal being with belief. In all these cases, our beliefs are without rational grounding, without good reason and evidence, without the foundation a rational person demands. We become rational, on the other hand, to the extent that our beliefs and actions are grounded in good reasons and evidence; to the extent that we recognize and critique our own irrationality; to the extent that we are not moved by bad reasons and a multiplicity of irrational motives, fears, desires; to the extent that we have cultivated a passion for clarity, accuracy, and fairmindedness. These global skills, passions, and dispositions integrated into a way of acting and thinking characterize the rational, the educated, and in my sense, the critical person.\n \nNo one, in this view, is ever "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"fully"},{"insert":" educated. Hence, we should view rational learning not as something completed by schooling but as something struggling to emerge against deep-seated, irrational, and uncritical tendencies and drives. Schools can be structured to foster belief without regard to rational justification. To make rational belief a probable outcome of schooling requires special design and distinctive commitment.\n"}]}

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Linda Elder
Mar 07, 2023 • 12d ago
How Egocentric and Sociocentric Thinking Impede Our Use of Intellectual Standards

{"ops":[{"insert":"In our ongoing podcast series, "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Critical Thinking: Going Deeper"},{"insert":", Dr. Gerald Nosich and I are exploring some of the many layers and complexities in the foundations of critical thinking. In one of our latest podcasts, we discuss how egocentric and sociocentric thinking act as ongoing barriers to the human ability to employ intellectual standards as we reason through problems and issues in our lives (this applies to us all). I encourage you to view this podcast, which should help you explore how your own self-centered and group-centered tendencies may be keeping you from achieving your goals and your potential.\n \nAccess the podcast here:\n\n \nYou can view the entire ongoing podcast series in our AV Library\nhere: \n \nFor more on the barriers to critical thinking – egocentric and sociocentric thinking, see excerpts from:\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"The Thinker’s Guide to the Human Mind"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#0563c1","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"\n \nand\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Liberating the Mind"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#0563c1","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"\n \nAlso complete the activities in the Wall of Barriers:\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"#0563c1","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"\n"}]}

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Richard Paul Archives
Feb 21, 2023 • 26d ago
[Part 8, Final] Critical Thinking, Moral Integrity, and Citizenship: Teaching for the Intellectual Virtues

{"ops":[{"insert":"[Missed Part 7? "},{"attributes":{"bold":true,"link":""},"insert":"Read It Here"},{"insert":"]\n\n\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":"Conclusion"},{"insert":"\n\nWe do not now teach for the intellectual virtues. If we did, not only would we have a basis for integrating the curriculum, we would also have a basis for integrating the cognitive and affective lives of students. Such integration is the basis for strong sense critical thinking, for moral development, and for citizenship. The moral, social, and political issues we face in everyday life are increasingly intellectually complex. Their settlement relies on circumstances and events that are interpreted in a variety of (often conflicting) ways. For example, should our government publish misinformation to mislead another government or group which it considers terrorist? Is it ethical to tolerate a “racist” regime such as South Africa, or are we morally obligated to attempt to overthrow it? Is it ethical to support anti-communist groups that use, or have used, torture, rape, or murder as tools in their struggle? When, if ever, should the CIA attempt to overthrow a government it perceives as undemocratic? How can one distinguish “terrorists” from “freedom fighters”?\n\nOr, consider issues that are more “domestic” or “personal”. Should deliberate polluters be considered “criminals”? How should we balance off “dollar losses” against “safety gains”? That is, how much money should we be willing to spend to save human lives? What is deliberate deception in advertising and business practices? Should one protect incompetent individuals within one’s profession from exposure? How should one reconcile or balance one’s personal vested interest against the public good? What moral or civic responsibility exists to devote time and energy to the public good as against one’s private interests and amusements?\n\nThese are just a few of the many complex moral, political, and social issues that virtually all citizens must face. The response of the citizenry to such issues defines the moral character of society. These issues challenge our intellectual honesty, courage, integrity, empathy, and fairmindedness. Given their complexity, they require perseverance and confidence in reason. People easily become cynical, intellectually lazy, or retreat into simplistic models of learning and the world they learned in school and see and hear on TV. On the other hand, it is doubtful that the fundamental conflicts and antagonisms in the world can be solved or resolved by sheer power and abstract good will. Good-heartedness and power are insufficient for creating a just world. Some modest development of the intellectual virtues seems essential for future human survival and well-being. Whether the energy, the resources, and the insights necessary for this development can be significantly mustered remains open. This is certain: we will never succeed in cultivating traits whose roots we do not understand and whose development we do not foster.\n"}]}

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Linda Elder
Feb 14, 2023 • 33d ago
Thinking Critically About the Earth’s Preservation – Restoring, Renewing and Rewilding

{"ops":[{"insert":"I am delighted that so many of you were able to join us for our webinar entitled "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Thinking Critically About the Earth’s Preservation."},{"insert":" If you missed the webinar, view the full video presentation here:\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"blue","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"\n\nYou can also pass along this excerpt from the video to your colleagues, family and friends interested in learning how the tools of critical thinking are essential to working through issues focused on the earth’s preservation:\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"blue","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"\n\nIn the full webinar, I focus briefly on how the elements of reasoning and intellectual standards help us reason more effectively through ecological questions. Then I demonstrate how when dealing with any complex question, we need to unpack that question by delineating and then working through the subquestions that need to be addressed before we can answer the broader question we began with. So, for instance, if we begin with the question: "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"How can we save the earth?,"},{"insert":" or "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"how can we best preserve and restore the earth’s resources?,"},{"insert":" we will first need to give the appropriate level of precision to the question. Then we need to determine the domains of thought within which we need to think to address the original complex question. Then we are in a position to delineate the questions we need to answer within each domain before we can effectively address our original question. For more on domains of questions, see our "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Asking Essential Questions Guide"},{"insert":", pp. 17-18.\n"}]}

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Richard Paul Archives
Jan 30, 2023 • 48d ago
[Part 7] Critical Thinking, Moral Integrity, and Citizenship: Teaching for the Intellectual Virtues

{"ops":[{"insert":"[Missed Part 6? "},{"attributes":{"bold":true,"link":""},"insert":"Read it Here"},{"insert":"]\n\n\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":"Some Thoughts on How to Teach for the Intellectual Virtues"},{"insert":"\n\nTo teach for the intellectual virtues, one must recognize the significant differences between the higher order critical thinking of a fairminded critical thinker and that of a self-serving critical thinker. Though both share a certain command of the micro-skills of critical thinking and hence would, for example, score well on tests such as the Watson-Glaser Critical Appraisal or the Cornell Critical Thinking Tests, they are not equally good at tasks which presuppose the intellectual virtues. The self-serving (weak sense) critical thinker would lack the insights that underlie and support these virtues.\n \nI can reason well in domains in which I am prejudiced – hence, eventually, reason my way out of prejudice – only if I develop mental benchmarks for such reasoning. Of course one insight I need is that when I am prejudiced it will seem to me that I am not, and similarly, that those who are not prejudiced as I am will seem to me to be prejudiced. (To a prejudiced person, an unprejudiced person seems prejudiced). I will come to this insight only insofar as I have analyzed experiences in which I was intensely convinced I was correct on an issue, judgment, or point of view, only to find, after a series of challenges, reconsiderations, and new reasonings, that my previous conviction was in fact prejudiced. I must take this experience apart in my mind, clearly understand its elements and how they fit together (how I became prejudiced; how I inwardly experienced that prejudice; how intensely that prejudice seemed true and insightful; how I progressively broke that prejudice down through serious consideration of opposing lines of reasoning; how I slowly came to new assumptions, new information, and ultimately new conceptualizations).\n \nOnly when one gains analyzed experiences of working and reasoning one’s way out of prejudice can one gain the higher order abilities of a fairminded critical thinker. What one gains is somewhat “procedural” or sequential in that there is a "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"process"},{"insert":" one must go through; but one also sees that the process cannot be followed out formulaically or algorithmically, it depends on principles. The somewhat abstract articulation of the intellectual virtues above ["},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"found in "},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"link":""},"insert":"part 4"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":" of this blog series"},{"insert":"] will take on concrete meaning in the light of these "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"analyzed experiences"},{"insert":". Their true meaning to us will be given in and by these experiences. We will often return to them to recapture and rekindle the insights upon which the intellectual virtues depend.\n \nGenerally, to develop intellectual virtues, we must create a collection of analyzed experiences that represent to us intuitive models, not only of the pitfalls of our own previous thinking and experiencing but also processes for reasoning our way out of or around them. These model experiences must be charged with meaning for us. We cannot be "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"indifferent"},{"insert":" to them. We must sustain them in our minds by our sense of their importance as they sustain and guide us in our thinking.\n \nWhat does this imply for teaching? It implies a somewhat different content or material focus. Our own mind and experiences must become the subject of our study and learning. Indeed, only to the extent that the content of our own experiences becomes an essential part of study will the usual subject matter truly be learned. By the same token, the experiences of others must become part of what we study. But experiences of any kind should always be critically analyzed, and students must do their own analyses and clearly recognize what they are doing.\n \nThis entails that students become explicitly aware of the logic of experience. All experiences have three elements, each of which may require some special scrutiny in the analytic process: "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"1)"},{"insert":" something to be experienced (some actual situation or other); "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"2) "},{"insert":"an experiencing subject (with a point of view, framework of beliefs, attitudes, desires, and values); and "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"3)"},{"insert":" some interpretation or conceptualization of the situation. To take any experience apart, then, students must be sensitive to three distinctive sets of questions:\n \nWhat are the raw facts, what is the most neutral description of the situation? If one describes the experience this way, and another disagrees, on what description "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"can"},{"insert":" they agree?"},{"attributes":{"list":"ordered"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"What interests, attitudes, desires, or concerns do I bring to the situation? Am I always aware of them? Why or why not?"},{"attributes":{"list":"ordered"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"How am I conceptualizing or interpreting the situation in light of my point of view? How else might it be interpreted?"},{"attributes":{"list":"ordered"},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":"\nStudents must also explore the interrelationships of these parts: how did my point of view, values, desires, etc., affect what I noticed about the situation? How did they prevent me from noticing other things? How would I have interpreted the situation had I noticed those other things? How did my point of view, desires, etc., affect my interpretation? How "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"should"},{"insert":" I interpret the situation?\n\nIf students have many assignments that require them to analyze their experiences and the experiences of others along these lines, with ample opportunity to argue among themselves about which interpretations make the most sense and why, then they will begin to amass a catalogue of critically analyzed experiences. If the experiences illuminate the pitfalls of thought, the analyses and the models of thinking they suggest will be the foundation for their intellectual traits and character. They will develop intellectual virtues because they had thought their way to them and internalized them as concrete understandings and insights, not because they took them up as slogans. Their basic values and their thinking processes will be in a symbiotic relationship to each other. Their intellectual and affective lives will become more integrated. Their standards for thinking will be implicit in their own thinking, rather than in texts, teachers, or the authority of a peer group.\n"}]}

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Linda Elder
Jan 26, 2023 • 52d ago
Censorship in Schools, Teachers Hiding Books, and How Dissenters Are Frequently Punished

{"ops":[{"insert":"Censorship of books in schools is a growing concern. Pen America has gathered data to help us see how bad the problem is, for those concerned to preserve and advance freedom of thought and freedom of speech. You can read their recent report titled: "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Banned in the US: the growing movement to censor books and schools: "},{"attributes":{"color":"#0563c1","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"\n \nSome U.S. states have far more severe censorship laws than others. In this article entitled “Florida teachers forced to remove or cover up books to avoid felony charges,” The Guardian (January 24, 2023)” helps illuminate one of the many barriers to advancing critical thinking, with teachers potentially becoming felons for sharing books considered politically incorrect with students:\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"blue","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"\n \nIn Florida schools, according to law, teachers are no longer allowed to use their professional judgment in determining what books to share with students. Instead, a librarian or “certified media specialist” must approve teachers’ books. If teachers violate the guidelines, they may face felony charges. Another blow to the educational process. Still, apparently some teachers are quietly objecting by covering up, or in other words, hiding their books.\n \nBut what if they get caught? Can teachers not be trusted to choose appropriate books for their students? If not, how can they be trusted to teach students at all? Will teachers want to work in an oppressive system, with censorship laws that violate basic tenets of education? What are some important implications for student learning and for their intellectual development if they are not allowed access to material considered threatening to those in power? Will administrators and teachers finally object in mass to this outrage of censorship?\n \n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"Dissenters Are Frequently Punished in Human Societies"},{"insert":"\nOf course, throughout history dissenters have often been punished for refusing to go along with unjust laws – for the purpose of changing the laws. The censorship problem mentioned above is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of how harsh these punishments may be. And it is part of a much larger problem coming from sociocentric thought which permeates through human societies.\n \nBecause people are expected to go along with mainstream views, dissenters, or those who simply do not live in accordance with conventional traditions, are often treated harshly. One of the most well-known dissenters in history is Socrates (c. 470–399 BCE), who was put to death by the state for “corrupting” the young by teaching them to think critically about traditions and customs, and for presumably not believing in the gods sanctioned by the “city.” Galileo advanced the notion, put forth by Copernicus, that the sun (rather than the earth) was the center of the universe, which got him in trouble with authorities (1615). He was warned to abandon his view, which he did to save his skin. Later he defended his views (1632) in his most famous work, "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems"},{"insert":". Consequently, he was tried by the Inquisition, found suspect of heresy, forced to recant, and spent the rest of his life under house arrest.\n \nWhen Charles Darwin introduced his conception of evolution, “it was everywhere met with ridicule and abuse” (Macdonald, 1931; 1972, p. vii). In the 70 years between when Darwin published his first book and Macdonald wrote his important work, "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Fifty Years of Free Thought"},{"insert":",\n“the whole scientific world accepted [Darwin’s] conclusion, and his theory of evolution is taught in every school worthy of the name. Amongst the intelligent people of the world, it is almost as well established as the once heretical doctrine that the earth is round. It is well to take a look at the story of privation and suffering of the early apostles of freedom and science who at great risk and through dire privations went up and down the world seeking to emancipate the human mind.” (p. vii)\n \nCritical thinkers realize that human societies tend to punish those who publicly go against mainstream views. Critical thinkers are willing to stand alone in their beliefs and in fact become comfortable holding views that differ, often dramatically, from those of others. People must decide for themselves the price they are willing to pay to publicly dissent against the views of society when it might be dangerous to do so. But in the privacy of their own minds, they give the widest possible play to reason.\n \nIn critical societies, people are encouraged to dissent, to say what they believe, and to discuss and debate in good faith. They value the importance of dissent and expect dissent as a matter of course. But where is such a society?\n \n \n\n\nReference:\n \nMacDonald, G. (1931; 1959). 50 years of free thought. NY: Arno Press, p.vii.\n\n \n{Part of this blog was adapted from: "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Liberating the Mind"},{"insert":" by Linda Elder (Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2019, pp. 39- 43).}\n"}]}

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Richard Paul Archives
Jan 17, 2023 • 61d ago
[Part 6] Critical Thinking, Moral Integrity, and Citizenship: Teaching for the Intellectual Virtues

{"ops":[{"insert":"[Missed Part 5? "},{"attributes":{"bold":true,"link":""},"insert":"Read it Here"},{"insert":"]\n\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":"Defense Mechanisms and the Intellectual Virtues"},{"insert":"\n \nA major obstacle to developing intellectual virtues is the presence in the human egocentric mind of what Freud has called “defense mechanisms”. Each represents a way to falsify, distort, misconceive, twist, or deny reality. Their presence represents, therefore, the relative weakness or absence of the intellectual virtues. Since they operate in everyone to some degree, no one embodies the intellectual virtues purely or perfectly. In other words, we each have a side of us unwilling to face unpleasant truth, willing to distort, falsify, twist, and misrepresent. We also know from a monumental mass of psychological research that this side can be "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"powerful"},{"insert":", can dominate our minds strikingly. We marvel at, and are often dumbfounded by, others whom we consider clear-cut instances of these modes of thinking. What is truly “marvelous”, it seems to me, is how little we take ourselves to be victims of these falsifying thoughts, and how little we try to break them down. The vicious circle seems to be this: because we, by and large, lack the intellectual virtues, we do not have insight into them, but because we lack insight into them, we do not see ourselves as lacking them. They weren’t explicitly taught to us, so we don’t have to explicitly teach them to our children.\n \n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":"Insights, Analyzed Experiences, and Activated Ignorance"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\nSchooling has generally ignored the need for insight or intellectual virtues. This deficiency is intimately connected with another one, the failure of the schools to show students they should not only test what they “learn” in school by their own experience, but also test what they experience by what they “learn” in school. This may seem a hopeless circle, but if we can see the distinction between a critically analyzed experience and an unanalyzed one, we can see the link between the former and "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"insight"},{"insert":", and the latter and "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"prejudice,"},{"insert":" and will be well on our way to seeing how to fill these needs.\n \nWe subject little of our experience to critical analysis. We seldom take our experiences apart to judge their epistemological worth. We rarely sort the “lived” integrated experience into its component parts, "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"raw data"},{"insert":", "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"our interpretation"},{"insert":" of the data, or ask ourselves how the interests, goals, and desires we brought to those data shared and structured that interpretation. Similarly, we rarely seriously consider the possibility that our interpretation (and hence our experience) might be selective, biased, or misleading.\n \nThis is not to say that our unanalyzed experiences lack meaning or significance. Quite the contrary, in some sense we assess "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"all"},{"insert":" experience. Our egocentric side never ceases to catalogue experiences in accord with its common and idiosyncratic fears, desires, prejudices, stereotypes, caricatures, hopes, dreams, and assorted irrational drives. We shouldn’t assume "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"a priori"},{"insert":" that our rational side dominates the shaping of our experience. Our unanalyzed experiences are some combination of these dual contributors to thought, action, and being. Only through critical analysis can we hope to isolate the irrational dimensions of our experience. The ability to do so grows as we analyze more and more of our experience.\n \nOf course, more important than the sheer "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"number"},{"insert":" of analyzed experiences is their "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"quality"},{"insert":" and "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"significance"},{"insert":". This quality and significance depends on how much our analyses embody the intellectual virtues. At the same time, the degree of our virtue depends upon the number and quality of experiences we have successfully critically analyzed. What links the virtues, as perfections of the mind, and the experiences, as analyzed products of the mind, is "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"insight"},{"insert":". Every critically analyzed experience to some extent produces one or more intellectual virtues. To become more rational it is not enough to have experiences nor even for those experiences to have meanings. Many experiences are more or less charged with "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"irrational"},{"insert":" meanings. These important meanings produce stereotypes, prejudices, narrowmindedness, delusions, and illusions of various kinds.\n \nThe process of developing intellectual virtues or insights is part and parcel of our developing an interest in taking apart our experiences to separate their rational from their irrational dimensions. These meta-experiences become important benchmarks and guides for future thought. They make possible modes of thinking and maneuvers in thinking closed to the irrational mind.\n"}]}

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Linda Elder
Jan 10, 2023 • 68d ago
Understanding What It Takes To Internalize and Advance Critical Thinking

{"ops":[{"insert":"Humans face many problems caused by poor reasoning that can only be solved through critical reasoning. This has always been the case. But this doesn’t mean we need to accept things as they are when it is clear they need improving. It can be more than disheartening (indeed it can be sickening) to perceive something of the almost unlimited potential of the human species while daily witnessing poverty, ignorance, bias, prejudice, incompetence, waste, selfishness, and blatant disregard for human and animal rights and the health of the planet.\n\nTo address these problems and eventually achieve fairminded critical societies requires that people work together to embrace and advance ethical critical thinking principles. And this requires that we collectively internalize an integrated, comprehensive, universally accessible concept of ethical critical thinking.\n\nThis is a primary reason for the development of our community. At the Foundation for Critical Thinking, we have known for decades that the one- and two-day workshop in critical thinking can never transform a person into a critical thinker. People take for granted that you cannot learn to play the violin or tennis in two days. And yet we are typically asked to teach all that is important to know about theory and application of critical thinking in two, or one day, or even less. Not infrequently when we ask how much time an organization has dedicated for professional development in critical thinking, they give such responses as, “We are really excited about critical thinking; we have set aside an entire hour for your presentation.”\n\nWe know that this way of thinking, this continually giving short shrift to critical thinking and its complexities, will never build fairminded, intelligent, cultivated societies for the long run. We also know that most people need to work together to advance their learning, rather than trying to learn critical thinking on their own. Therefore, we have built our community with many opportunities for you to learn directly from our senior fellows and scholars, in our regular webinars and study groups, as well as to work through our libraries and academy activities on your own time.\n\nIf we are to develop as reasoners, any one of us, it is essential that we find and regularly interact with like-minded people seeking to advance as fairminded critical thinkers who are also studying robust theory of critical thinking and regularly applying it throughout their lives.\n\nI encourage you to frequently visit our webinars page to make sure you don’t miss any webinars or study groups led by our fellows and scholars. These provide unique opportunities to study with our international authorities on critical thinking.\n\nYou will not want to miss the January 12 webinar this week with Dr. Nosich – "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Reasoning Through a Problem Using Critical Thinking."},{"insert":"\n\nThen I hope you will join me for the February 1 webinar on "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Thinking Critically About the Earth’s Preservation."},{"insert":"\n\nYou can also view the recorded videos after each webinar, in the AV library (also found in the webinars section of the community)\n\nRead about our webinars here: "},{"attributes":{"color":"blue","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"\n\nRegister for the upcoming study group at our sister website here:\n"},{"attributes":{"color":"blue","link":""},"insert":""},{"insert":"\n\n"}]}

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Richard Paul Archives
Dec 27, 2022 • 82d ago
[Part 5] Critical Thinking, Moral Integrity, and Citizenship: Teaching for the Intellectual Virtues

{"ops":[{"insert":"[Missed Part 4? "},{"attributes":{"bold":true,"link":""},"insert":"Read it Here"},{"insert":"]\n"},{"attributes":{"underline":true,"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":"The Interdependence of the Intellectual Virtues"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\nLet us now consider the interdependence of these virtues, how hard it is to deeply develop any one of them without also developing the others.\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\nConsider intellectual humility. To become aware of the limits of our knowledge we need the "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"courage"},{"insert":" to face our own prejudices and ignorance. To discover our own prejudices in turn we must often "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"empathize"},{"insert":" with and reason within points of view toward which we are hostile. To do this, we must typically "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"persevere"},{"insert":" over a period of time, for learning to empathetically enter a point of view against which we are biased takes time and significant effort. That effort will not seem justified unless we have the "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"faith in reason"},{"insert":" to believe we will not be “tainted” or “taken in” by whatever is false or misleading in the opposing viewpoint. Furthermore, merely believing we can survive serious consideration of an “alien” point of view is not enough to motivate most of us to consider [it] seriously. We must also be motivated by an "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"intellectual sense of justice"},{"insert":". We must recognize an intellectual "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"responsibility"},{"insert":" to be fair to views we oppose. We must feel "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"obliged"},{"insert":" to hear them in their strongest form to ensure that we do not condemn them out of our own ignorance or bias. At this point, we come full circle back to where we began: the need for "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"intellectual humility"},{"insert":".\n \nOr let us begin at another point. Consider intellectual good faith or integrity. Intellectual integrity is clearly difficult to develop. We are often motivated – generally without admitting to or being aware of this motivation – to set up inconsistent intellectual standards. Our egocentric or sociocentric side readily believes positive information about those we like and negative information about those we dislike. We tend to believe what justifies our vested interest or validates our strongest desires. Hence, we all have some innate tendencies to use double standards, which is of course paradigmatic of intellectual bad faith. Such thought often helps us get ahead in the world, maximize our power or advantage, and get more of what we want.\n \nNevertheless, we cannot easily operate "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"explicitly"},{"insert":" or overtly with a double standard. We must, therefore, avoid looking at the evidence too closely. We cannot scrutinize our own inferences and interpretations too carefully. Hence, a certain amount of "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"intellectual arrogance"},{"insert":" is quite useful. I may assume, for example that I know just what you’re going to say (before you say it), precisely what you are really after (before the evidence demonstrates it), and what actually is going on (before I have studied the situation carefully). My intellectual arrogance makes it easier for me to avoid noticing the unjustifiable discrepancy in the standards I apply to you and those I apply to myself. Of course, if I didn’t have to empathize with you, that too makes it easier to avoid seeing my duplicity. I am also better off if I don’t feel a keen need to be "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"fair"},{"insert":" to your point of view. A little background "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"fear"},{"insert":" of what I might discover if I seriously considered the consistency of my own judgments also helps. In this case, my lack of intellectual integrity is supported by my lack of intellectual humility, empathy, and fairmindedness.\n \nGoing in the other direction, it will be difficult to maintain a double standard between us if I feel a distinct responsibility to be fair to your point of view, understand this responsibility to entail that I must view things from your perspective in an empathic fashion, and conduct this inner inquiry with some humility regarding the possibility of my being wrong and your being right. The more I dislike you personally or feel wronged in the past by you or by others who share your way of thinking, the more pronounced in my character must be the trait of intellectual integrity in order to provide the countervailing impetus to think my way to a fair conclusion.\n"}]}

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Richard Paul Archives
Dec 07, 2022 • 102d ago
[Part 4] Critical Thinking, Moral Integrity, and Citizenship: Teaching for the Intellectual Virtues

{"ops":[{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"[Missed Part 3? "},{"attributes":{"bold":true,"link":""},"insert":"Read It Here"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":"]"},{"insert":"\n\n\nI would generalize as follows: just as the development of intellectual humility is an essential goal of critical thinking instruction, so is the development of intellectual courage, integrity, empathy, perseverance, fairmindedness, and confidence in reason. Furthermore, each intellectual (and moral) virtue in turn is richly developed only in conjunction with the others. Before we approach this point directly, however, a brief characterization of what I have in mind by each of these traits is in order:\n \n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Intellectual Courage:"},{"insert":" Having a consciousness of the need to face and fairly address ideas, beliefs, or viewpoints toward which we have strong negative emotions and to which we have not given a serious hearing. This courage is connected with the recognition that ideas considered dangerous or absurd are sometimes rationally justified (in whole or in part) and that conclusions and beliefs inculcated in us are sometimes false or misleading. To determine for ourselves which is which, we must not passively and uncritically “accept” what we have “learned”. Intellectual Courage comes into play here, because inevitably we will come to see some truth in some ideas considered dangerous and absurd, and distortion or falsity in some ideas strongly held in our social group. We need courage to be true to our own thinking in such circumstances. The penalties for non-conformity can be severe."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Intellectual Empathy:"},{"insert":" Having a consciousness of the need to imaginatively put oneself in the place of others in order to genuinely understand them, which requires consciousness of our egocentric tendency to identify truth with our immediate perceptions or long-standing thought or belief. This trait correlates with the ability to reconstruct accurately the viewpoints and reasoning of others and to reason from premises, assumptions, and ideas other than our own. This trait also correlates with the willingness to remember occasions when we were wrong in the past despite an intense conviction that we were right, and with the ability to imagine our being similarly deceived in a case-at-hand."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Intellectual Good Faith (Integrity):"},{"insert":" Recognition of the need to be true to one’s own thinking; to be consistent in the intellectual standards one applies; to hold one’s self to the same rigorous standards of evidence and proof to which one holds one’s antagonists; to practice what one advocates for others; and to honestly admit discrepancies and inconsistencies in one’s own thought and action."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Intellectual Perseverance:"},{"insert":" Willingness and consciousness of the need to pursue intellectual insights and truths in spite of difficulties, obstacles, and frustrations; firm adherence to rational principles despite the irrational opposition of others; a sense of the need to struggle with confusion and unsettled questions over an extended period of time to achieve deeper understanding or insight."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Faith in Reason: "},{"insert":"Confidence that, in the long run, one’s own higher interests and those of humankind at large will be best served by giving the freest play to reason, by encouraging people to come to their own conclusions by developing their own rational faculties; faith that, with proper encouragement and cultivation, people can learn to think for themselves, to form rational viewpoints, draw reasonable conclusions, think coherently and logically, persuade each other by reason and become reasonable persons, despite the deep-seated obstacles in the native character of the human mind and in society as we know it."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"insert":" "},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"Fairmindedness:"},{"insert":" Willingness and consciousness of the need to treat all viewpoints alike, without reference to one’s own feelings or vested interests, or the feelings or vested interests of one’s friends, community, or nation; implies adherence to intellectual standards without reference to one’s own advantage or the advantage of one’s group."},{"attributes":{"indent":1},"insert":"\n"}]}

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