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THe Thinker

THe Thinker

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Analytichinking
How o ake hinking ApartAnd What o Look For When You Dohe Elements of hinkingandhe Standards hey Must Meet
By Dr. Linda Elder and Dr. Richard Paul 
 A Companion to:Te Miniature Guide to Critical Tinking Concepts and oolsBased on Critical Tinking Concepts & ools
The Thinker’s Guideto
Te Foundation for Critical Tinking
 
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The Thinker’s Guide to Analytic Thinking© 2007 Foundation for Critical Thinking www.criticalthinking.org© 2007 Foundation for Critical Thinking www.criticalthinking.orgThe Thinker’s Guide to Analytic Thinking
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Contents
Part I: Understanding the Basic Theory of Analysis
 This section provides the oundational theory essential to analysis. It delineatesthe eight basic structures present in all thinking.
Why a Guide on Analytic Thinking?                                                 4Why the Analysis o Thinking is Important                                           5All Thinking is Defned by the Eight Elements That Make It Up                           5All Humans Use Their Thinking To Make Sense o the World                             6To Analyze Thinking We Must Learn to Identiy and Question Its Elemental Structures       7To Evaluate Thinking, We Must Understand and Apply Intellectual Standards           8–9Thirty-fve Dimensions o Critical Thought                                      10–11On the Basis o the Above We Can Develop A Checklist or Evaluating Reasoning      12–13
Part 2: Getting Started: Some First Steps
 This section enumerates the most important oundational moves in analysis.
Think About Purpose                                                            14State the Question                                                              15Gather Inormation                                                             16Watch Your Inerences                                                           17Check Your Assumptions                                                         18Clariy Your Concepts                                                            19Understand Your Point o View                                                    20Think Through the Implications                                                   21
Part 3: Using Analysis to Figure Out the Logic of Anything
 This section provides a range o sample analyses (as well as templatesor analysis).
The Spirit o Critical Thinking                                                     22Analyzing the Logic o Human Emotions                                        23–25Analyzing Problems                                                         26–27Analyzing the Logic o an Article, Essay, or Chapter                               28–31Analyzing the Logic o a Textbook                                                 32Evaluating an Author’s Reasoning                                                 33Analyzing the Logic o a Subject:                                                  34
• Science
                                                                   35
• History
                                                                    36
• Sociology
                                                                 37
• Economics
                                                             38–39
• Ecology
                                                               40–41
Part 4: Taking Your Understanding to a Deeper Level
 This section explains the elements more comprehensively, dierentiating skilledrom unskilled reasoners.
Analyzing and Assessing:
• Goals, Purposes, or Objectives
                                                42
• Questions, Problems, and Issues
                                              43
• Data, Evidence, Experience, Research
                                          44
• Inferences, Interpretations, and Conclusions
                                    45
• Assumptions and Beliefs
                                                     46
• Concepts, Ideas, and Theories
                                                 47
• Points of View and Perspectives
                                               48
• Implications and Consequences
                                               49Distinguishing Between Inerences and Assumptions                             50–51Conclusion                                                                     52
 
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The Thinker’s Guide to Analytic Thinking© 2007 Foundation for Critical Thinking www.criticalthinking.org© 2007 Foundation for Critical Thinking www.criticalthinking.orgThe Thinker’s Guide to Analytic Thinking
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Why a Guide on Analytic Thinking?
Analysis and evaluation are recognized as crucial skills or all students to master. Andor good reason. Tese skills are required in learning any signicant body o content ina non-trivial way. Students are commonly asked to analyze poems, mathematical or-mulas, biological systems, chapters in textbooks, concepts and ideas, essays, novels, andarticles—just to name a ew. Yet how many students can explain what analysis requires?How many have a clear conception o how to think it through? Which o our graduatescould complete the sentence: “Whenever I am asked to analyze something, I use theollowing model:…”Te painul act is that ew students have been taught how to analyze. Hence, whenthey are asked to analyze something scientic, historical, literary, or mathematical—letalone something ethical, political, or personal—they lack a model to empower them inthe task. Tey muddle through their assignment with only the vaguest sense o whatanalysis requires. Tey have no idea how sound analysis can lead the way to soundevaluation and assessment. O course, students are not alone. Many adults are similarlyconused about analysis and assessment as intellectual processes.Yet what would we think o an auto mechanic who said, “I’ll do my best to x yourcar, but rankly I’ve never understood the parts o the engine,” or o a grammarian whosaid, “Sorry, but I have always been conused about how to identiy the parts o speech.”Clearly, students should not be asked to do analysis i they do not have a clear model,and the requisite oundations, or the doing o it. Similarly, we should not ask studentsto engage in assessment i they have no standards upon which to base their assessment.Subjective reaction should not be conused with objective evaluation.o the extent that students internalize this model through practice, they putthemselves in a much better position to begin to think historically (in their historyclasses), mathematically (in their math classes), scientically (in their science classes),and thereore more skillully (in all o their classes). When this model is internalized,students become better students because they acquire a powerul “system-analyzing-system.”Tis thinker’s guide is a companion to Te Miniature Guide to Critical TinkingConcepts and ools. It supports, and is supported by, all o the other miniature guidesin the series. It exemplies why thinking is best understood and improved when we areable to analyze and assess it EXPLICILY. Te intellectual skills it emphasizes are thesame skills needed to reason through the decisions and problems inherent in any andevery dimension o human lie.
Why the Analysis of Thinkingis Important
Everyone thinks; it is our nature to do so. But much o our thinking, le to itsel, isbiased, distorted, partial, uninormed, or downright prejudiced. Yet the quality o ourlie and o what we produce, make, or build depends precisely on the quality o ourthought. Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality o lie. I we want tothink well, we must understand at least the rudiments o thought, the most basic struc-tures out o which all thinking is made. We must learn how to take thinking apart.
All Thinking Is Defned by the Eight Elements That Make It Up
Eight basic structures are present in all thinking:
Whenever we think, we think or apurpose within a point o view based on assumptions leading to implications and con-sequences. We use concepts, ideas and theories to interpret data, acts, and experiencesin order to answer questions, solve problems, and resolve issues. Tinking, then:
Point of View
rame o reerence,perspective,orientation
Purpose
goal,objective
Question at issue
problem, issue
Implications andConsequencesAssumptions
presupposition,taking or granted
Information
data, acts,observations,experiences
Interpretationand Inference
conclusions,solutions
Concepts
theories,defnitions, axioms,laws, principles,models
Elementsof Thought
n
generates purposes
n
raises questions
n
uses information
n
utilizes concepts
n
makes inferences
n
makes assumptions
n
generates implications
n
embodies a point of view
Each o these structures has implications or the others. I you change your purposeor agenda, you change your questions and problems. I you change your questions andproblems, you are orced to seek new inormation and data. I you collect new inormationand data…
Essential Idea:
Tere are eight structures that dene thinking. Learning to analyzethinking requires practice in identiying these structures in use.

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