Blog Post: [Part 2] Critical Thinking and the Critical Person

Richard Paul Archives
Apr 05, 2023 • 63d ago
[Part 2] Critical Thinking and the Critical Person

{"ops":[{"insert":"[Missed Part 1? "},{"attributes":{"bold":true,"color":"blue","link":""},"insert":"Read It Here"},{"insert":"]\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":"Thinking Critically in the “Strong” Sense"},{"insert":"\n"},{"attributes":{"italic":true,"bold":true},"insert":" "},{"insert":"\nOne cannot develop a coherent concept of critical thinking without developing a coherent concept of rationality, irrationality, education, socialization, the critical person, and the critical society, as they bear on and mutually illuminate one another. This holistic approach distinguishes the mode of theorizing of most philosophers working on the concept of critical thinking from that commonly used by most cognitive psychologists concerned with the nature of thinking. Cognitive psychologists often treat cognitive processes and their “pathology” separate from any consideration of the affective, social, or political life of the thinker. The research findings of clinical and social psychologists rarely integrate self-deception, egocentricity, or ethnocentricity into the problem definitions or conclusions of cognitive psychology. Consequently, cognitive psychologists rarely focus on messy real-life multilogical problems that cross disciplines; instead they restrict their attention to artificial or self-contained monological problems, problems whose solutions can typically be found in a field-specific conceptual framework without reference to major personal or social bias. The more basic and difficult human problems, for whose solutions there are competing frameworks, and in which the problem of bias and vested interest looms large, are routinely ignored.\n \nIt is hard to go very far into the core concept of the critical person, however, without recognizing the centrality of multilogical thinking, the ability to think accurately and fairmindedly within opposing points of view and contradictory frames of reference. Multilogical problems, whose fairminded treatment requires us to suspend our egocentric tendency to confuse the framework of our own thinking with “reality” and reason within opposing points of view, are among the most significant human problems and among those most resistant to solution. The problems of human understanding, of war and peace, of economic, political, and social justice, of who our friends and who our enemies are, of what we should accept as the most basic framework of our thinking, of our own nature, our goodness and our evil, our history and that of those we oppose, of how we should interpret our place in the world, and how to best satisfy our needs and critically assess our desires - all such problems are at the heart of the basic frustrations and conflicts that plague human life and all require multi-system thinking. We cannot justifiably assume the correctness of any one point of view as the only perspective within which these basic human problems can be most rationally settled. Schooling should improve the student’s ability to distinguish monological from multilogical problems and to address each appropriately.\n \nOn this view, we distinguish two important senses of critical thinking, a "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"weak"},{"insert":" sense and a "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"strong"},{"insert":" one. Those who think critically only with respect to monological issues and, as a result, consider multilogical issues with a pronounced monological bias have merely mastered weak sense critical thinking. They would lack the ability, and presumably the disposition also, to critique their own most fundamental categories of thought and analysis. They would, as a result, lack the ability to enter sympathetically into, and reconstruct, the strongest arguments and reasons for points of view fundamentally opposed to their own. When their monological thinking arises from an unconscious commitment to a personal point of view, their thinking is egocentric; when it arises from an unconscious commitment to a social or cultural point of view, their thinking is ethnocentric. In either case they think more or less exclusively within their own frames of reference. They might use the basic vocabulary of critical thinking with rhetorical skill – their arguments and reasons might impress those who already shared their framework of thought – but they would lack the basic drives and abilities of what I call "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"strong sense "},{"insert":"critical thinking: "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"a)"},{"insert":" an ability to question deeply one’s own framework of thought, "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"b) "},{"insert":"an ability to reconstruct sympathetically and imaginatively the strongest versions and points of view and frameworks of thought opposed to one’s own, and "},{"attributes":{"italic":true},"insert":"c)"},{"insert":" an ability to reason dialectically (multilogically) to determine when one’s own point of view is weakest and when an opposing point of view is strongest.\n"}]}

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