What is Critical Thinking?
Critical thinking is not about being negative. The term critical comes from the Greek word kritikos meaning discerning. So critical thinking is a deeper kind of thinking in which we do not take things for granted but question, analyze and evaluate what we read, hear, say, or write. It is a general term used to identify essential mindsets and skills that contribute to effective decision-making. While there are many definitions for critical thinking, here is one that covers its essential aspects: Also read What is critical reading.
“Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and logically, understanding the logical connection between ideas.” Critical thinking has been the subject of much debate and thought since the time of early Greek philosophers such as Plato and Socrates and has continued to be a subject of discussion into the modem age, for example, the ability to recognize fake news. Critical thinking can also be described as the ability to engage in reflective and absolute thinking.
In essence, critical thinking requires you to use your ability to reason. It is about being an active learner rather than a passive recipient of information. Critical thinkers rigorously question ideas and assumptions rather than accepting them at face value. They will always seek to determine whether the ideas, arguments and findings represent the entire picture and are open to finding that they do not. Critical thinkers will identify, analyze and solve problems systematically rather than by intuition or instinct.
Someone with critical thinking skills can:
- Understand the links between ideas.
- Determine the importance and relevance of arguments and ideas.
- Recognize, build and appraise arguments.
- Identify inconsistencies and errors in reasoning.
- Approach problems in a consistent and systematic way.
- Reflect on the justification of their own assumptions, beliefs, and values.
Critical thinking is thinking about things in certain ways so as to arrive at the best possible solution in the circumstances that the thinker is aware of. In more everyday language, it is a way of thinking about whatever is presently occupying that you come to the best possible conclusion.
The Skills We Need for Critical Thinking
The skills that we need in order to be able to think critically are varied and include observation, analysis, interpretation, reflection, evaluation, inference, explanation, problem-solving, and decision-making. Specifically, we need to be able to:
- Think about a topic or issue in an objective and critical way.
- Identify the different arguments there are in relation to a particular issue.
- Evaluate a point of view to determine how strong or valid it is.
- Recognize any weaknesses or negative points that there are in the evidence or argument.
- Notice what implications there might be behind a statement or argument.
- Provide structured reasoning and support for an argument that we wish to make. Read more
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