I pride myself on being a critical thinker. I just naturally don’t go along with the latest trends simply because many others do. Critical thinking is at the very foundation of my life. Mob mentality which is the opposite of critical thinking is to me an absurd and idiotic condition. But what is critical thinking?
Critical thinking can only be possible when one opens his mind to the possibility that current beliefs may be only partially true or may even be false. Here is some of what Wikipedia says critical thinking means:
Critical thinking clarifies goals, examines assumptions, discerns hidden values, evaluates evidence, accomplishes actions, and assesses conclusions. “Critical” as used in the expression “critical thinking” connotes involving skillful judgment as to truth, merit, etc. “Critical” in this context does not mean “disapproval” or “negative.”…
To add further clarification on what is meant by thinking critically, Richard Paul (1995) articulated critical thinking as either weak or strong.
The weak-sense critical thinker is a highly skilled but selfishly motivated pseudo-intellectual who works to advance one’s personal agenda without seriously considering the ethical consequences and implications. Conceived as such, the weak-sense critical thinker is often highly skilled but uses those skills selectively so as to pursue unjust and selfish ends.
Conversely, the strong-sense critical thinker skillfully enters into the logic of problems and issues to see the problem for what it is without egocentric and/or socio-centric bias. Thus conceived, the strong-sense mind seeks to actively, systematically, reflectively, and fair-mindedly construct insight with sensitivity to expose and address the many obstacles that compromise high quality thought and learning. Using strong critical thinking we might evaluate an argument, for example, as worthy of acceptance because it is valid and based on true premises. Upon reflection, a speaker may be evaluated as a credible source of knowledge on a given topic. Critical thinking can occur whenever one judges, decides, or solves a problem; in general, whenever one must figure out what to believe or what to do, and do so in a reasonable and reflective way. Reading, writing, speaking, and listening can all be done critically or uncritically.
Until I had read these words I guess I didn’t really consider such a thing as a weak-sense critical thinker. But in reality there are more of them around right now than there are strong-sense critical thinkers.
So, I guess I will have to always add “strong-sense” when I describe myself in the future. To me critical thinking and pragmatism are closely related. That is we should always be studying all proposals that we come across to see if they can improve our current situations. There is nothing that can’t use some of either of these two characteristics.
By the last paragraph in the quote it is obvious that all the strong-sense critical thinkers have abandoned politics in the last few year.