Greg R. Haskins
There have been many definitions of critical thinking. From a practical perspective, itmay be defined as:
A process by which we use our knowledge and intelligence to effectively arrive at the most reasonable and justifiable positions on issues, and which endeavors to identify and overcome the numerous hindrances to rational thinking.
Not everyone values the need for critical thinking. Often, being methodically objective isviewed as cold, sterile, and worst of all, boring. To those who say “Have faith and letyour feelings guide you to the truth,” or “Don’t let facts get in the way of an inspiring orinteresting story,” these words will probably not resonate. But for those who trulyunderstand and appreciate the importance of critical thinking, this paper, including theattached tables, can become a useful reference for daily life.Just because you are intelligent orhave great knowledge does not meanyou can think critically. A profoundgenius may have the most irrational ofbeliefs or the most unreasonable ofopinions. Critical thinking is about
we use our intelligence andknowledge to reach objective andrationale viewpoints. Opinions andbeliefs based on critical thinking standon firmer ground compared to thoseformulated through less rationalprocesses. Additionally, criticalthinkers are usually better equipped tomake decisions and solve problemscompared to those who lack thisability.Figure 1 presents a very simplifiedmodel of the human understandingprocess. Basically, our
(Step 3) synthesize our
(Step 2) of
(Step 1)in the context of our
basic emotional needs
(Step 3A) and our
values and principles
(Step 3B) in order to reach
(Step 4) about anything in life. Critical thinking is just one sub-process of the thinking processes step that people may or may not employin order to reach conclusions.Critical thinking is more than thinking
; it also means thinking
. There is an important distinction. Logic and analysis areessentially philosophical and mathematical concepts, whereas thinking rationally andobjectively are broader concepts that also embody the
fields of psychology and
The Human Understanding Process
What really existsand happens outside theconfines of our own minds.
3B. Values &Principles:
Ourpreconceivedideas of what isimportant versusnot important andwhat is rightversus wrong.
How we senseor experience
3. Thinking Processes:
Howwe synthesize our
in order to create ideas &draw
may or may notemploy
Our resultingopinions, claims, beliefs, andunderstanding of facts.