History of Critical Thinking
“The intellectual roots of critical thinking are as ancient as its etymology, traceable, ultimately, to the teaching practice and vision of Socrates 2,500 years ago who discovered by a method of probing questioning that people could not rationally justify their confident claims to knowledge. Confused meanings, inadequate evidence, or self-contradictory beliefs often lurked beneath smooth but largely empty rhetoric.”
“He [Socrates] established the importance of seeking evidence, closely examining reasoning and assumptions, analyzing basic concepts, and tracing out implications not only of what is said but of what is done as well. His method of questioning is now known as "Socratic Questioning" and is the best known critical thinking teaching strategy. In his mode of questioning, Socrates highlighted the need in thinking for clarity and logical consistency.”
More on critical thinking through the ages is available here.
Eight Dimensions of Critical Thinking
The Foundation for Critical Thinking, one of the leading schools of thought on modern-day critical thinking, highlights eight dimensions of critical thinking: Purpose, Question, Information, Interpretation, Concept, Assumptions, Implications, Perspectives.
1. The element of Purpose provokes us to examine the intent of a specific claim or statement.2. This second element of critical thinking, Question, prompts us to clearly identify the problem or issue at the core of any given line of reasoning. Without a clear and specific question, it may be difficult to clearly define issues or challenges.3. The Information element of critical thinking guides us to consider the specific pieces of evidence and/or data points presented. It’s important to note that data points do not always refer to numbers; data can be information in the form of testimony or an interview.4. The fourth element, Interpretation, encourages us to reflect on the underlying inferences we are drawing between the information and claims we encounter during our daily lives. Are we linking ideas logically or are there flaws to our connections? How is the information or data being translated into real life?5. The Concept element urges us to investigate the validity of the laws, theories and the accepted principles on which claims and arguments are based.6. When assessing claims or information, the Assumption element of critical thinking encourages us to explore what the claim or information may be taking for granted. What are we missing?7. The Implications element of critical thinking prompts us to deeply consider the consequences of statements and claims to determine the potential downstream effects.8. The last and final element of critical thinking, Point of View, ensures that we reflect upon the source and perspective of claims presented during everyday life. Point of View is especially important since it can help identify limitations or bias. More information is available about the eight elements of critical thinking here.
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