Thinking may come naturally to us but constructive reasoning certainly does not. Constructive thinking is a skill. It is certainly not true that we are naturally endowed with the ability to think clearly and logically; without learning how and without practicing. The same commitment, training, and skill that is required to be a good golfer, for playing tennis, building houses, or for playing some musical instrument are also required in order to be a good thinker. People who have never worked to develop their conceptual capabilities should no more expect to think clearly and logically than those people who have never learnt and never practiced can expect to find themselves good golfers, house builders, or violinists. Critical thinking is the basis of effective reasoning and the foundations of constructive science.
Critical thinking is about trying to understand our processes of reasoning and develop standards for improving them. Critical thinking is a way of thinking about any subject in which the person improves the quality of their thinking by assessing, analyzing, deconstructing and reconstructing it. Critical thinking is a form of metacognition, it is self-directed and self-monitored; it is about developing the conceptual tools to be able to think for oneself. It requires assent to rigorous standards of excellence in judgment and thinking and conscious command of their use in trying to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.
Richard Paul, co-founder of the Foundation for Critical Thinking, defines critical thinking as a " self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way. People who think critically consistently attempt to live rationally, reasonably and empathically. They are keenly aware of the inherently flawed nature of human thinking when left unchecked. They strive to diminish the power of their egocentric and sociocentric tendencies. They use the intellectual tools that critical thinking offers – concepts and principles that enable them to analyze, assess, and improve thinking. They realize that no matter how skilled they are as thinkers, they can always improve their reasoning abilities and they will at times fall prey to mistakes in reasoning, human irrationality, prejudices, biases, distortions, uncritically accepted social rules and taboos, self-interest, and vested interest. At the same time, they recognize the complexities often inherent in doing so. They strive never to think simplistically about complicated issues and always to consider the rights and needs of relevant others. They recognize the complexities in developing as thinkers, and commit themselves to lifelong practice toward self-improvement. They embody the Socratic principle: The unexamined life is not worth living, because they realize that many unexamined lives together result in an uncritical, unjust, dangerous world."
The course is broken down into five main sections. The first section looks at human cognition to understand the basic biological and evolutionary constraints placed on us when it comes to effective reasoning. Here we will talk about how the brain works, look at some of the central insights from cognitive science and talk about some of the many limitations and flaws prevalent within human cognition. In the second section, we will look at logic. Although critical thinking is much more than just logic, reason and logic lay at the heart of constructive thinking. Here we talk about the various different forms of logic, inductive, deductive, formal, informal etc. In the third section, we will start our discussion on the theme of reasoning, the process through which we take in information and use some logic to infer conclusions. A central theme here will be that of subjective and objective reasoning in trying to understand what it takes to achieve some kind of objectivity in our conclusions. The fourth section deals with the process of reasoning as we take it apart to understand the elements of effective reasoning. Here we will talk about the standards of reasoning, creative thinking, divergent and convergent thinking and more. In the final section, we discuss the important topic of argumentation, how people with diverse, or even divergent opinions, come to resolve their differences in order to develop new knowledge, make decisions, or reach consensus on some issue.
Short overview of the second section of the course where we will be looking at neuroscience and cognitive science.
In this video we take a look at neuroscience, cognitive science and the workings of the brain. Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary, scientific study of the mind and its processes. It examines the nature, the tasks, and the functions of cognition. Cognitive scientists study intelligence and behavior, with a focus on how nervous systems represent, process, and transform information.
This video discusses the topic of human cognition. The term cognition refers to a diverse collection of psychological activities and encompasses processes such as attention, comprehension, memory, judgment, evaluation, reasoning, decision-making, problem-solving, the usage of language, etc. Cognition within humans may be concrete or abstract, conscious and unconscious, as well as intuitive and conceptual.
In this module, we illustrate some of the limitations in our cognitive faculties. Something that is required to become a better thinker is a recognition to the fact that human cognitive capabilities are significantly constrained in their functioning. What we perceive of as reality is largely an illusion constructed by our brains and in this video we height some of the ways in which this happens.
An overview for the third section of our critical thinking course where we will be talking about logic.
Logic defines thinking according to a set of consistent and coherent rules and the domain of philosophy that studies these principles of correct reasoning. Likewise, the term may be applied in a more generalized sense to all phenomena, where a logic is any integrated and ordered set of interrelationships between entities that is intelligible, i.e. there is a certain logic to the motion of rush-hour traffic
Reason is the capacity to think, understand, and form judgments through a process of inference that is guided by some form of logic. It is one of the ways by which thinking leads from one idea to a related idea and generates knowledge that is based upon a coherent set of rules. When looking at the different types of reasoning philosophers have come to define two primary and distinct kinds of reasoning, called deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning and this is what we will be exploring in this video.
Logic is a form of reasoning conducted according to a strict systematic set of principles. It is generally understood to be the systematic study of the form of arguments; the science that investigates the principles governing correct or reliable inference. Logic arose from a concern with the correctness of argumentation and a desire to find a solid basis for the verification of an argument.
Section overview for the fourth section in the course where we will be talking about the process of reasoning. Reasoning refers to the full process we go through in amassing information, assessing it, interpreting its and generating knowledge.
In this video we will be giving a high-level overview to the concept of reason. Reason is the capacity for cognition, understanding, and the formation of judgments based upon logic or simply as the ability to think logically.
Thinking may be conceived of as being either objective or subjective. Where objective thinking means reasoning according to a set of logically objective standards, while subjective thinking refers to reasoning without objective standards and is thus largely contingent on the nature of the individual subject conducting the process.
Processes of reasoning may be understood as being on a spectrum from being objective to being subjective. Where objective thinking means reasoning according to a set of logical and objective standards, while subjective thinking refers to reasoning without objective standards. Objective thinking means reasoning that is independent of the specific subjective context, not influenced by personal characteristics, feelings or opinions of the subject.
Motivated reasoning is reasoning based upon subjective motives that condition the cognitive processes of the individual towards generating conclusions that endorse the maintenance or attainment of the subjective motives of the individual.
Overview to the fourth section in the course where we look at the standards of reasoning.
The Elements of Reasoning are a list of factors that are designed to make people aware of the different elements involved in the process of reasoning. The Elements of Reasoning framework is developed by the Foundation for Critical Thinking. Within this framework reasoning is understood as a process where people use data, information and assumptions to infer conclusions from a perspective, in attempting to answer a question or solve a problem, with consequences then resulting from the conclusions drawn
Universal intellectual standards are standards which must be applied to thinking whenever one is interested in checking the quality of reasoning about a problem, issue, or situation. To think critically entails having command of these standards. While there are many standards, The Critical Thinking Institute defines a list of the central elements of effective reasoning including that we will be talking about in this video
Effective argumentation is a central part of critical thinking and the topic of our last section to the course. Although the term argument today has a negative connotation, it was once considered one of the highest pursuits. As we touched on previously argumentation is a process whereby divergent ideas or opinions are brought into contact and interact with the intent of inferring a conclusive single global outcome. Arguments can take two basic forms, fights or debates, depending on whether they are based on force or the process of reasoning. In this section, we will explore both rational and non-rational arguments.
An argument is an exchange of ideas or opinions between individuals in which the individuals express different opinions about some topic. The process of argumentation is studied in a number of different contexts from philosophy, mathematics, and science, to law, politics, and psychology.
Objective means independent from the particularities of a specific instance or individual, subjective means conditional on the particularities of the individual - the subject. An objective claim is a statement about a factual matter, i.e. one that can be proved true or false.
In this final video in the course we will discuss rational argumentation, which is the exchange of evidence-based reasons that are designed to influence an audience. Rational argumentation is the capacity to give reasons; to connect the claims that one makes to the justification for making them.
Within arguments, people construct statements that can be used to support a conclusion or position on a matter this is uncertain or yet to be decided, hoping to influence others to adhere to their position.
When people speak to each other or to a crowd they make certain claims, they make statements and construct a case that they believe in and that they would like for others to believe also.
Think Academy is an e-Learning site dedicated to the area of systems thinking and complexity theory, our mission is to take the world of complexity and make it accessible to all. Systems and complex can be intimidating subjects with many sophisticated concepts, this is why we believe it is important to always start with the most essential, simplest elements of a subject making sure that students come away with a solid understanding of the core concepts behind each area. As Einstein said "Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler"
Courses are curated and presented by Joss Colchester. Joss has extensive experience within the domain of complex systems both within academic research(mathematical modeling of complex system + network analysis) and has many years practical systems engineering experience(designing and developing complex web based information systems). He has a passion for taking abstract and complex concepts and making them concrete and accessible to as broad an audience as possible by combining clear and effective graphics with well structured course content.