Wednesday, September 21st, 2016
Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally about what to do or what to believe. It includes the ability to engage in reflective and independent thinking.
At the most simple level, critical thinking involves us in making an evaluation or judgment about what we hear or see. For many people, this can just mean making a quick mental decision based on the presenting evidence within a relatively short time frame. This approach may work effectively much of the time, especially when the decision has minimal impact on our work or on our life in general.
However, the regular use of a “lightly” examined or even an “unexamined” approach may lead to a complacent habit when we hear all arguments that are put to us. In these circumstances, we may easily become hostage to other people’s interpretations of what we should do or how we should live, and we may come to not much like what they have chosen and even feel negatively impacted. For this reason alone, we may want to build our own critical thinking skills to a higher level and develop better and more evolved habits using different and deeper critical thinking approaches, no matter what the argument or the decision that needs to be made.
Critical thinking is not a matter of accumulating information. A person with a good memory and who knows a lot of facts is not necessarily good at critical thinking. A critical thinker is able to deduce consequences from what he knows, and he knows how to make use of information to solve problems, and to seek relevant sources of information to inform himself.
Summing-up: critical thinking is a form of mental judgment that is specifically purposeful and reflective. As a result, when using critical thinking, an individual makes a decision or solves the problem of judging what to believe or what to do, but does so in a highly reflective or considered way.