Blog Post: [Part 2] Dialogical and Dialectical Thinking

Richard Paul Archives
Aug 15, 2022 • 47d ago
[Part 2] Dialogical and Dialectical Thinking

{"ops":[{"insert":"[Missed Part 1? "},{"attributes":{"bold":true,"color":"blue","link":"https://community.criticalthinking.org/blogPost.php?param=164"},"insert":"Read It Here"},{"insert":"]\n \n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":"Absolutistic Thinking in Early School Years"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\nYoung children do not recognize that they have a point of view. Rather, they tend to make absolute judgments about themselves and others. They are not usually given an opportunity to rationally develop their own thoughts. Their capacity to judge reasons and evidence is usually not cultivated. There intellectual growth is stunted.\n \nAs a result, young children uncritically internalize images and concepts of what they and others are like, of what, for example, Americans are like, of what atheists, Christians, communists, parents, children, business-people, farmers, liberals, conservatives, left-wingers, right-wingers, salespeople, foreigners, patriots, Palestinians, Kiwanis Club members, cheerleaders, politicians, Nazis, ballet dancer, terrorists, union leaders, guerrillas, freedom fighters, doctors, Marines, scientists, mathematicians, contactors, waitresses, are like. They then ego-identify with their conceptions, which they assume to be accurate, spontaneously using them as guides in their day-to-day decision making.\n \nChildren need assignments in multilogical issues to break out of their uncritical absolutism. They need to discover opposing points of view in non-threatening situations. They need to put their ideas into words, advance conclusions, and justify them. They need to discover their own assumptions as well as the assumptions of others. They need to discover their own inconsistencies as well as the inconsistencies of others. They do this best when they learn how to role-play the thinking of others, advance conclusions other than their own, and construct reasons to support them. Children need to do this for the multilogical issues – issues involving conflicting points of view, interpretations, and conclusions – that they inevitably face in their everyday lives. But they also need to do so for the disciplined monological questions that they must of necessity approach from within the context of their own undisciplined minds.\n \nBecause children are not exposed to dialogical and dialectical activities, children do not learn how to read, write, think, listen, or speak in such a way as to rationally organize and express what they believe. They do not learn how uncritically they are responding to the mass media nor to what extent it is reinforcing their subconscious egocentric or sociocentric views. They feel deeply primarily about egocentric concerns, justifying getting what they want, and avoiding what they do not want. If school is to prepare students for life as it is, if it is to empower children to become rational persons, it must cultivate dialogical engagement and reasoned judgment from the outset.\n \n\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":"Fact, Opinion, and Reasoned Judgment"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\nWhen critical thinking is introduced into the classroom – and very often it is not – it is often approached monologically, for example, by having students divide a set of statements into “facts” and “opinions.”\n \nUnfortunately, a taxonomy that divides all beliefs into either facts or opinions leaves out the most important category: reasoned judgment. Most important issues are not simply matters of fact, nor are they essentially matters of faith, taste, or preference. They are matters that call for reasoned reflection. They are matters that can be understood from different points of view through different frames of reference. We can, and many different people do, approach them with different assumptions, ideas and concepts, priorities, and ends in view. The tools of critical thinking enable us to grasp genuine strengths and weaknesses in thought only when they are analytically applied to divergent perspectives in dialectical contexts. Dialogical and dialectical experience enables us to develop a sense of what is most reasonable. Monological rules do not.\n \nFor example, it is exceedingly difficult to judge the case made by a prosecutor in a trial until we have heard the arguments for the defense. Only by stepping out of the perspective of the prosecutor and actually organizing the evidence in language designed to make the strongest case for the defense can we begin to grasp the true strength and weakness of the prosecutor’s case.\n \nThis approach is the only proper way to deal with the important issues we face in our lives, and I am amazed that we and our textbooks refuse to recognize it. The most basic issues simply do not reduce to unadulterated fact or arbitrary opinion. True, they often have a factual dimension. But characteristically, some of what is apparently empirically true is also arguable. And we are often faced with the problem of deciding which facts are most important, which should be made central, and which should be deemed peripheral or even irrelevant. Finally, despite the common view, facts do not speak for themselves. They must be rendered meaningful by interpretation, by explanation, by construal. Make your own list of the ten most important issues and see if this is not true (but beware, of course, the tendency to see your own answers to these issues as self-evident facts!).\n"}]}


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