This blog is called Thoasp, or thoughts of an aspirationist, but I haven’t covered thought yet. So here we go. First, A statement by Michael Scriven & Richard Paul, presented at the 8th Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking and Education Reform, Summer 1987. source
Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action. In its exemplary form, it is based on universal intellectual values that transcend subject matter divisions: clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth, breadth, and fairness. It entails the examination of those structures or elements of thought implicit in all reasoning: purpose, problem, or question-at-issue; assumptions; concepts; empirical grounding; reasoning leading to conclusions; implications and consequences; objections from alternative viewpoints; and frame of reference. Critical thinking — in being responsive to variable subject matter, issues, and purposes — is incorporated in a family of interwoven modes of thinking, among them: scientific thinking, mathematical thinking, historical thinking, anthropological thinking, economic thinking, moral thinking, and philosophical thinking.
Critical thinking can be seen as having two components: 1) a set of information and belief generating and processing skills, and 2) the habit, based on intellectual commitment, of using those skills to guide behavior. It is thus to be contrasted with: 1) the mere acquisition and retention of information alone, because it involves a particular way in which information is sought and treated; 2) the mere possession of a set of skills, because it involves the continual use of them; and 3) the mere use of those skills (“as an exercise”) without acceptance of their results.
Critical thinking varies according to the motivation underlying it. When grounded in selfish motives, it is often manifested in the skillful manipulation of ideas in service of one’s own, or one’s groups’, vested interest. As such it is typically intellectually flawed, however pragmatically successful it might be. When grounded in fairmindedness and intellectual integrity, it is typically of a higher order intellectually, though subject to the charge of “idealism” by those habituated to its selfish use.
Critical thinking of any kind is never universal in any individual; everyone is subject to episodes of undisciplined or irrational thought. Its quality is therefore typically a matter of degree and dependent on, among other things, the quality and depth of experience in a given domain of thinking or with respect to a particular class of questions. No one is a critical thinker through-and-through, but only to such-and-such a degree, with such-and-such insights and blind spots, subject to such-and-such tendencies towards self-delusion. For this reason, the development of critical thinking skills and dispositions is a life-long endeavor.
I’ll share a couple of examples first. Jeffery Combs for instance speaks about communication style which is brought up here in recent years. This statement listed also mentions a higher order. Did you know there was a word for it in the law, called providence? This also suggests that manipulation of an idea, a suggestion, makes it inherently flawed.
I’m pivoting here because there’s a phrase of intellectual commitment stated here. This suggests that this work has been influenced by a work done 25+ years earlier called Think and Grow Rich. This book mentions a word called autosuggestion. Repeated thoughts and their committed actions over time lead to what I know as second-hand nature. Some call it net-net, in a state of flow…It’s a learned behavior and conditioned response that is automatically able to be acted upon as a reflex.
There is a positive and negative application for this word and its’ idea. The positive notion is the application of such to any skill that we can influence. The negative notion can be seen in the ability to influence our mind passively as many have done already.
The notion of autosuggestion is still becoming socially acceptable. That has not stopped it from being acted upon by Napoleon Hill over 75 years ago. The same goes for those that Napoleon has studied. It didn’t stop the folks at criticalthinking.org from clearly acting on it. It hasn’t stopped the millions of people who applied Think and Grow Rich from acting on it. It hasn’t even stopped elements of science from acting on it. It’s become evident that the masses do not have to believe something for someone to act on it and influence the way their life is going. Does that excite you, or perhaps frighten you?