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BEGINNINGPHILOSOPHY

Philosophyisanaxe.

Everythingyoubelieveisquestionable.Howdeeplyhaveyouquestionedit?The
uncriticalacceptanceofbeliefshandeddowntoyoubyyourparents,teachers,
politiciansandreligiousleadersisdangerous.Manyofthisbeliefsaresimplyfalse.
Someofthemarelies,designedtocontrolyou.Evenwhenwhathasbeenhanded
downistrue,itisnotyourtruth.Tomerelyacceptanythingwithoutquestioningit
istobesomebodyelsespuppet,asecondhandperson.

Beliefscanbehandeddown.Knowledgecanperhapsbehandeddown.Wisdomcan
neverbehandeddown.Thegoalofphilosophyiswisdom.Tryingtohanddown
philosophyisunphilosophical.

Wisdomrequiresquestioningwhatisquestionable.Sinceeverythingis
questionable,wisdomrequiresquestioningeverything.Thatiswhatphilosophyis:
theartofquestioningeverything.

WHATISPHILOSOPHY?

ThewordPhilosophy(Greek,Philosophia)means:

thelove(philia)ofwisdom(sophia).

TheThreeBasicQuestions:

Thewisdomphilosophersloveandpursuearisesfromaninquiryguidedby
threebasicquestions:

1. Whatswhat?

2. Whatsgood?

3. Whatdoweknow?AndrelatedquestionsWhatstrue?

WhenManisconfrontedwithMystery,orwith
Somethingwhosecausesarestillunknown,
hewonderswhy.
SuchforSocrates,wasthebeginningofWisdom.

Socratessays:

WonderisthefeelingofaPhilosopher,and

PhilosophybeginsinWonder.

(Plato,Theaetetus,155B.BenjaminJewettinvol.7ofGreatBooks,p.519)
Whatdoesitmeanthentowonder?

Towondermeanstorealizethatthereissomethingstrangebehindthethingsthat
weordinarilyperceive.Towonderistonoticesomethingextraordinaryinthe
ordinarythingswesee.

(FortheloveofWisdombyChrisJohnTerry,Anexplanationofthemeaningand
purposeofPhilosophy)

Philosophyisforthosewhoarewillingtobedisturbedwithacreative
disturbancePhilosophyisforthosewhostillhavethecapacitytoWONDER.

(PhilosophyanintroductiontotheArtofWonderingbyJamesL.Christian,
prelude.)

Philosophercanbebestdescribedasonewholovestruthinitsdeepestmeaning.
ThisisinkeepingwiththeliteralmeaningofthewordPhilosophyasloveof
wisdom.

ThestudyofPhilosophyisacontinualencounter,adialoguecarriedoninsearchof
truthwhereveritmaybefound.Philosophycanbetermedasaninquirywhichseeks
toencompassthewholeofrealitybyunderstandingitsmostbasiccausesand
principleinsofarastheseareacceptabletoreasonandexperience.Itis
characterizedasbeginninginwonderandendsinmystery
.

(ReflectionsonManbyJesseMannetal.P24)

3BRANCHESOFPHILOSOPHY

Forthisreason,thedisciplineofphilosophyhas,overthecenturies,cometo
bedividedintothreemainbranches:

1. Metaphysics:Thephilosophicalstudyofreality(Whatswhat?)

a.Ontology(beingorrealityingeneral)

b.PhilosophicalCosmology(cosmos)

c.PhilosophicalTheology(PhilosophyofReligion) (God)

d.PhilosophicalAnthropology(Humannatureand HumanExistence)

2.Axiology:ThePhilosophicalstudyofvalue(WhatsGood?)

a.Aesthetic(PhilosophyofArt)
b.Ethics(MoralPhilosophy)

c.SocialandPoliticalPhilosophy

3.Epistemology:KnowledgeandTruth(WhatdoweknowandwhatsTrue)

5CHIEFAIMSOFPHILOSOPHY

1. Thecriticalscrutinyofourbeliefsandconvictions.

2. Thebringingtolightofourhiddenassumptionsorpresuppositions.

3. Thequestforgenuinelyworthwhilelife.

4. Theefforttokeepoursenseofwonderalive.

5. Theposingofcertainquestionswhicharenotdealtwithbyotherdisciplines,
andtheattempttoanswerthem.

TwoDifferentApproachestoPhilosophy

Philosophyisatwosidedintellectualenterprise.

Itisaformofthinkingthatis,ontheonehand,Constructiveand,onthe
otherhand,Critical(Deconstructive)

Thus,indefiningthegeneralnatureofPhilosophy,adistinctionisusually
madebetween:

1. Constructive(sometimescalledSpeculative)Philosophy.

2.Critical(Deconstructive)Philosophy

WhatmakesananswerorbeliefRationallydefensible?

Ananswerorbeliefisrationallydefensible:

1. Instrongsensewhenitiscredible,i.e.,believablebecauseitissupportedby
evidenceand/orsoundargumentation.

2. Intheweaksensewhenitwithstandsorsurvivescriticismi.e.,ithasnot
(yet)beenrefuted(thatistosay,provedtobecertainlyorprobablyfalse)

ConstructivePhilosophy,then,istheattempttoformulaterationally
defensibleanswerstoquestions.

Themoreambitiousformsofconstructivephilosophyaimattheconstructions
ofacomprehensive,coherent,andintellectually(andperhapsalso
emotionally)satisfyingworldvieworPhilosophicalSystem.
Manyconstructivephilosophers,however,especiallyinrecenttimes,concentrateon
analyzingandansweringonlyafewofthemajorphilosophicalquestionswithout
attemptingtheconstructionofacompleteworldvieworphilosophicalsystem

Mostofthegreatphilosophersofthepastwereconstructivephilosophers.

Constructivephilosophyconcentratesonprovidinganswerstofundamental
philosophicalquestions.

Critical(Deconstructive)Philosophy

Istheprocessofsubjectingbeliefsandargumentstologicalandempirical
analysis,classification,andevaluationinanefforttodecidewhetherthose
beliefsandargumentsarerationallydefensibleorindefensible,warrantedor
unwarranted,soundorunsound,justifiedbyreasonornot

Itconcentratesonquestioningsuchanswers.

KNOWLEDGE

HowdoweusethewordknowinEnglish?

IntheordinaryuseofEnglishweusethewordknowinmanydifferent
ways:

Itisveryimportantinphilosophytobeclearaboutexactlyhowweareusing
theword.

Roughlyspeakingthethreecorrectwaystouseitare:

1. Knowledgebyacquaintance

2. Knowledgehowtodosomething

3. Knowledgethatsomethingisthecase.

4. Knowledgebyacquaintance

Thisthekindofknowledgewehaveofpeopleandplaces.

Knowledgebyacquaintanceisalso,butataverymuchdeeperlevel,theway
inwhichweknowfriendsandmembersofourfamily.

Ifweknowaperson,wemightnotactuallyknowmuchaboutthepersonwemight
notknowwhenher/hisbirthdayis,orwhereshe/hewasborn..andontheother
handwemayknowthegreatdealabouttheperson,e.gfamousactor,thePresident
ofthecountry,aNationalhero,withoutbeingabletosaythatweknowtheperson.

Sometimesweknowofaperson,meaningthatwehaveheardalotaboutthe
person,butperhapsnotevenmetthem
Inthesamewaywecanknowaplace:

IknowSta.Maria,becauseIhavebeenthere,walkedaround,talkedtothepeople,
Icantellyouhowtogetthereandwhatitislikeasaplace.

Thisisalsoknowledgebyacquaintance,whereasalthoughIprobably
knowmorefactsaboutBoracaythanIdoaboutSta.Maria,IcantsaythatI
knowit,asIhaveneverbeenthere.

Knowinghow

Quiteadifferentsortofknowledgeiswhenweknowhowtodosomething.

Doyouknowhowtorideahorse?

Doyouknowhowtodriveacar?

Doyouknowhowtoplaythepiano?

Noticethatthisisquitedifferentfromknowledgebyacquaintance.

Youmighthaveseenpeopleridingbicyclesalmosteverydayofyourlifeyouknow
exactlywhatridingabicyclemeans,andyoumightknowlotsoffactsabouthowit
isdone,butifyouhaveneverevensatonabicycleyourself,youcannotclaimto
knowhowtorideabicycle.

Noticealsothatknowinghowisnotamatterofknowingfacts.

IfIgaveyouthebestbookaboutplayingtheviolineverwritten,andayearto
readit,butonlyattheendoftheyearyouwereforthefirsttimegivena
violin,youwouldnotknowhowtoplayityouwouldnotbeabletoplayit,
evenifyouknew1,001factsabouthowtoplaytheviolin.

Thesetwosortofknow,knowledgebyacquaintance,andknowinghowtodo
something,arealsousedbyphilosophers,butlessoftenthattheyareusedby
nonphilosophers.

Example:

YourswimmingteachermightsayDoyouknowthebutterflystroke?,meaning
canyouactuallydoit?HemeansDoyouknowhotodothebutterflystroke?

Knowingthat

ThethirdsortofKnow,toknowthatsomethingisthecaseisknowledgeof
Facts,orPropositionalKnowledge.

Thisistheuseofknowmostoftenofconcerntophilosophers.

Herearesomeexamplesofusingthewordtoknowinthissensenoticethat
thesearealltodowithknowingfacts:
1. IknowwheretocatchthejeepneytoGuiwan.(Insuchandsuchstreet)

2. IknowthecapitacityofZamboangadelSur.(thenameofit,Pagadian,
notthatIknowitbyacquaintance)

3. DoyouknowthewhereAteneodeZamboangaislocated?.(LaPurisima
Street)

4. Doyouknowtheboilingpointofwateronthecentigradescale?(100
degrees)

A.Whatsortofknowisusedineachofthefollowingquestions/statements:

1. DoyouknowGloriaMacapagalArroyo?

2. Apersondoesntknowpovertyuntilhessleptonthegroundwithouttheroof
overhishead,nightafternight.

3. Iknowhowtogotoschool.

4. Doyouknowhowtosing?

5. DoyouknowkungFu?

Whatdowemeanbytoknowafact?

Itcomesinthreeparts:

1. TRUTHwecanonlyknowsomethingifitistrueweneverspeakabout
knowingsomethingwhichisfalse.

(thisistheobjectivepartofknowing)

Itfollowsthatwecanonlyknowtruethingsifwe(oranyoneelse)something,then
ithastobetrue.

2.BELIEFwehavetobelieveafacttoknowit.

(thisthesubjectivepartofknowing)

TherearemanyfactswhichareTrue,butitwouldntmakesensetosaythatwe
knowafactifwedidntbelievethatitwastrue.

Itwouldbeverysillytosay:IknowthatthecapitalcityofthePhilippinesis
ManilabutIdontbelieveit.

3.REASONwehavetohavereasonsforourbeliefinafacttoknowit.

(thisistherationalpartofknowing)
Thisisbyfarthemostcomplexanddifficultpart.Whatcountsasareason,oras
supportingevidencewhatcountsassufficientreason,orassufficientsupporting
evidenceisnotsomethingwhichitispossibletostateeasilyandclearly.

Whatisnotneeded?

1.WemayknowafactwithoutnecessarilybeingableTOEXPLAINittosomeone
else.

2.WemayknowafactwithoutnecessarilyfullyUNDERSTANDINGit.

Maybeweknowtheplanetsallmoveroundthesuninroughlyelliptical
orbits..knowingitisonething,fullyunderstandingitisquiteanotherthingsurely.

3.WemayknowafactwithoutnecessarilyanyoneelseBELIEVINGit.

4.WemayknowafactwithoutnecessarilyanyoneelseAGREEINGwithus
aboutit.

5.WemayknowafactwithoutnecessarilyhavinganyEVIDENCEforit.

6.WemayknowthefactwithoutnecessarilybeingTRUTHFUL,SINCEREor
RELIABLEorinanywaygenerallyCREDIBLE.

7.WemayknowafactwithoutnecessarilyKNOWINGTHESUPPORTING
DETAILSoftimes,places,persons,methodoranythingelse.

AreallThreeconditionsreallyneeded?

Yes,theycertainlyare.Justlookbackatthethreeconditionsforknowingafact:

1. BELIEVETHEFACT

2. THEFACTISACTUALLYTRUE

3. HAVEADEQUATEREASONSFORBELIEVINGIT.

5CHIEFAIMSOFPHILOSOPHY

Whystudyphilosophy?

Philosophyistheenterprisewhichseekstofulfillthoseaimsortask.

WhatisPhilosophy?

Theartofquestioningeverything.
First:

(1) thecriticalscrutinyofourbeliefsandconvictions

Examples:

Educationisgoodforonlyonething:gettingagoodjob.Ifitdoesn'tdothat(and
maybeevenifitdoes),itisawasteoftimeandmoney.

Theonlyorbestmeasureofhappinessisyoursocioeconomicstatusandyourannual
financialstatement.

Nonconformityisabnormalorimmoral.

EverythingthathappensiswilledbyGodandthusisultimatelyforthebest.

Thereisnodoubtthatthesearepervasivebeliefs.

Perhapsmostoralloftheseareheldbymanorwomanonthestreet.

Manyoftheadvocatesaredogmatic.

However,ordinarypeoplearenottheonlyonewhoisdogmatic;eventhosepeople
withsomedegreeofsophistication;

Examples:

1. Scienceandtechnologyholdthekeystorealityandtoallhumanproblems.

2. Allofourbeliefs,values,andbehaviorsareproductsofourgenes.

WhatdoesallthishavetodowithPhilosophy?

Forinreflectingonsuchclaimsasthese,onwhattheymean,onwhethertheyare
trueorfalse(ornonsensical),onwhattheirimplicationsare,onwhatlifewouldbe
likeiftheyweretrue(orifwebelievedthem),wearealreadybeginningto
philosophize.

Theactivityofphilosophizingconsistsof

1. Articulation

2. Examination

3. Criticalappraisalofourmostcherishedbeliefsandconvictions

Therearepeoplewhofindthisenterprisethreatening:

Forthisreason,Philosophyhavenotalwaysbeenpopular.

Fortheyengageintowhatthe19thcenturyGermanPhilosopher:Nietzschecalled

UNTIMELYMEDITATIONS.
(Bythishemeantreflectionsandthoughtswhichgoagainsttheculturalvaluesand
idealsofonesowntime..)

ForJohnStuartMill(anineteenthcenturyBritishPhilosopher)said:

believinginwhathappenstobetrue,ifyouaredogmaticandclosedmindedabout
it,isworsethanbelievingwhathappenstobefalse,aslongasyouareopenminded
andwillingtodiscussyourbeliefsandchangetheminthelightofevidence,
discussion,andcriticism

Second

(2)thebringingtolightofourhiddenassumptionsorpresuppositions

Whatdoesthismean?

Anassumptionorpresuppositionisabeliefwhichistakenforgrantedandhence,of
whichwemaynotbeconscious.

Examples:

Now,someofourassumptionsareordinary,commonsensebeliefsand,hence,
beliefswhichweholdconsciously:

Thesunwillrisetomorrow.

(Inwinter),springwillfollow.

IfIdrinkafifthofgininahalfhour,Iwillgetdrunk.Etc.

Butthereareassumptionswhichoftenliebehindtheseordinarybeliefs,
assumptionstowhichweoftenappealinordertojustifytheseordinarybeliefs.

Supposedyouareaskedtojustifythatthesunwillrisetomorrow

Becauseithasalwaysbeenthatway.

Thisisconsideredasthebasicassumption.

Itisimportanttorecognizethatthisismerelyanassumption,namely,thatwashas
heldinthepastwillcontinuetoholdinthefuture.

Examples:

1. Somepeoplebelievethatcriminalsshouldbepunishedoreven
condemned.

Whatistheassumptionwhichunderliesthisbelief?

Itisthathumanbeingsarefreeagents,theyarealwayscapableoffreelychoosingto
doornottodosomething,andhenceareresponsiblefortheiractions
2.Therearesomepeoplewhobelievethattheuniversemusthavebeen
created.

Whatistheassumptionwhichunderliesthisbelief?

itisthatnothingcanexistwithoutacauseandhencetheuniversemusthavehada
cause

PartofwhatPhilosopherstrytodoistomakeusawareofourbasicassumptions
andpresuppositions.

Whyisthisimportant?

Becauseaslongasweareunawareofourassumptionswearenotintellectually
free.

Forifweareunawareofthemweareenslavedtothemandtoallofthe
consequencesthattheyentail.

Wearenotfreeinourthinkingbecauseallthatwethinkisconfinedtothelimits
whicharesetbyourunrecognizedassumptions.

Wemustthen;

1. First,becomeawareofthem

2. Second,Examinethemcritically.

Weundoubtedlywillcontinuetoholdmanyofthem.Butthemannerin
whichtheyareheldwillbedifferent.

Third

(3)thequestforagenuinelyworthwhilelife.

Considerthefollowingclaim:

Itisbettertosufferaninjusticethantodoaninjusticetoanotherperson,since
actingunjustlycorruptsoneandmakesoneworse,whereassufferinganinjustice
doesnot..

ForSocrates:

theonlyworthwhilelifeforahumanbeingiswhathecalledtheexaminedlife.
Theunexaminedlifeisnotworthliving

Itmeansthatahumanbeingneedsmorethanbedandbreadinordernotmerelyto
survivebuttolivewell.
Ahumanbeingwhohasandactsonideas,beliefs,andvalues,andhasonlya
relativelyshortlifespan,woulddowelltothinkseriouslyaboutwhattobe;about
whattodowithhisorherlife;aboutwhatthingsaremostimportant.

Itisalsotrueinanagepervadedbyaneverendingseriesofcrisesanddilemmas:
abortion,starvation,economicsetbacks,politicalstrife,nuclearaccidents,andso
on.

Havingawelldevelopedsenseofvaluesandpurposeismoreimportanttodaythan
ever.

Wemust,eachandeveryoneofus,setourownprioritiesinorderthatoursociety,
aswellasourownlives,bestraightenedout.

Weliveinasocietygovernedbycertainassumptionsandstandardsabouthuman
happinessandthegoodlifewhichalltoooftenaretakenunreflectively.

Wearetaughtthatsuccessandhappinesscanbemeasuredinmonetaryterms,
orintermsofsocioeconomicstatus,orintermsofhowmanycollegedegreesone
has,andsoon.

Materialisticvaluescometobethemeasureofeverything.

Weviewourownwellbeingincomparisonwiththatofothersandtakeour
bearingsbyreferencetosocialstandardsthatoftendonteventhinktwiceabout.

Itmaywellbethatunderlyingalloftheseindividualandsocialvaluesisthebelief
thathappinessconsistsintheunlimitedsearchformoreandmorematerialwealth.

Ifso,itmayalsobetruethatsuchaviewofhappinessisanillusion:Themorewe
have,themorewewantandthelesssatisfiedweare.

ThisiswhySocratesbelievedthatthebestlifecomesfromtherealizationthatself
control,andnotinsatiabledesires,isthesourceofhappiness.

Weshouldstartaskingourselves:

WhatdoIwanttobe/dowithmylife?

Fourth

4)Theefforttokeepaliveoursenseofwonderabouttheworld

Mostofushumansarenaturallycurious.

Therearethingswhichweencounterandvariousexperiencesthatwehavethat
makeuswonder.

Example:

Vastnessofspace.
Inourageofscienceandtechnology,withitscontinuousknowledgeexplosion,

Itisimportanttokeepourwonderalive.

Wemustappreciatehowimportantitistonurtureourcuriosity,notjustto
appreciatethesignificanceofnewbreakthroughsinsciencebuttohelpusrecapture
oursenseofwonderabouteverydaylifeandexperience.

Wehavetolearnhowtolearn:howtoadaptourbeliefsandvaluesinthepresence
ofcontinuingchangesinourunderstandingofthings.Itisonlybydoingthisthat
wecanavoidfeelingalienatedfromdevelopmentsinscienceandtechnology.

Inshort,whilehumancuriositygiveshasgivenusscience,dowenowliveina
societyinwhichthedominanceofscienceactuallystifleshumancuriosityand
creativity

Fifth

5)Theposingofcertainquestionswhicharenotdealtwithbyother
disciplines,andtheattempttoanswerthem.

Whataresomeofthemainfeaturesofphilosophicalquestions?

IsaiahBerlin

1. Theyareoftenverygeneral.

2. Theymayhavelittlepracticalutility(oriftheydoitisnotalwaysclearjust
whatitis)

3. Theyaresuchthattherearenoobviousandstandardproceduresor
techniquesforansweringthem.

Example:

Arethereanypropositionswhichcanbeknowntobetruebythinkingaloneand
whichdonotrequireanyappealtoexperienceinordertojustifythem?

Arethereinstancesinwhichabortioncanbejustified?

Note:Notphilosophicalbutpossessesthe3featuresofPhilosophical
questions.

1. AreyouquitecertainthatGeorgeBushknowsyou?

2. Canyoubecertainaboutwhatgoesoninanyoneelsesmind?

3. Whatistheexactmeaningofthewordoculist?

4. Whatistheexactmeaningofthewordpersonorliving?

Tosummarize:
Wehaveseveralpairsofquestion.Thefirstmemberofeachpaircanbesettled
onceandforalloratleastwithahighdegreeofprobability.

Butthesecondpaircannot,oratleastitisnotimmediatelyapparenthowitcould
be.

Questionsofthesecondsortarethosewithwhichphilosophyisconcerned.

Theycannotbeansweredsolelybyobservingandrunningempiricaltests.

Howdoesonetrytoanswerthem?

Throughcriticalanalysisandargument.

1. Wemustmakenecessarydistinctionsinordertobesureweknowwhatwe
areasking.

2. Onemustconsiderthearguments,proandcon.

3. Criticallyevaluatethem.

Philosophicalquestionsfallintoauniquecategory:

1. Theycannotbeansweredsolelyonthebasisofsimple,straightforward
empiricalprocedures.

2. Theycannotbeansweredsolelyonthebasisofsomeformalprocedureorby
gettingclearonthemeaningofthewords.

Inscience,weaskquestions;inPhilosophy,wefindourselvesquestioned.

CRITICALTHINKING

WhatitISandwhatitisNOT

1.CriticalThinkingisNOTthesameasdisagreement

Adisagreementisaclashofviews.

Youassertanopinionandsomeoneelsedeniesitorstatesanopposingopinion,you
aredisagreeingbutnotthinkingcritically.

Example:

1. Theresfartoomuchviolenceontelevision.

2. Comparedtomovies,thereisntmuchviolenceontelevision.

3. Premaritalsexincreasesthechancesofasuccessfulmarriage.Lookatmy
wifeandme.

4. Idontseehowhavingsexbeforemarriagecouldimprovethemarriages
chancesofsucceeding.
CriticalThinking

Ifyouarethinkingcritically,youllcloselyinspectthereasonsforandagainst
eachposition.Youdontmerelykeepreassertingyourpositions.Rather,you
lookatthereasonsforeachothersposition.

Eachofusshouldbewillingtohaveourownpositionssubjectedtothiskind
ofscrutiny.

2.CriticalThinkingdoesnotaimtoembarrassorhumiliate,anditdoes
notallowyoutodominatesomebodyelse

Thinkingcriticallydoesnotgiveyouthiskindofpower.

Thepowerthatcriticalthinkinggivesyouisthepowerofknowing,from
attainingtruthandjustifiedbelief.

ItisNOTthetyrannyofimposingoneswillonanother,ofinflicting
humiliation,orevenoftryingtopersuadeanotherofyourviewpoint.

Thegoalofcriticalthinkingisthejustificationofyourbelief.

Whentheyarejustified,youknowyouhaveasolidbasisforbelievingwhattodo,
thatyoucandefendyourbeliefsifnecessaryandyouhavelegitimategroundsfor
action.

NOTE:

Youcanneverjustifyyourbeliefsbydominatingorhumiliatingothers,or
evenbypersuadingotherstobelieveasyoudo.

3.CriticalThinkingdoesnotentailnitpicking

Anitpickerisonewhoisundulypreoccupiedwithminordetail.Theyintroduce
irrelevancies.

Thecriticalthinkerbycontrastisconcernedwiththesubstance.

Yes,thinkingcriticallyrequiresanalysis,whichinturncallsforattentionto
detail.Butthedetailsthecriticalthinkerattendstoarebothrelevanttoa
positionandsignificanttoitssupport.

Example:

Supposeyouclaim,

"ManychildrenenjoywatchingSaturdaymorningtelevision.Sotheyaren'tbeing
exploited."

Uponhearingthisassertion,someonereplies,

"Justwhatdoyoumeanby'enjoywatching'?"
Andyouthenspendtherestoftheafternoonwrestlingoverthemeaningof"enjoy
watching."

Mostofusneedtrainingtodistinguishtherelevantfromtheirrelevant,the
significantfromtrivial.

Criticalthinkingisdesignedtoprovidetraining.

4.CriticalThinkingdoesrequireimaginationandcreativity

CriticalThinkersarealsobeingcreativewhentheyformulatepossiblesolutionstoa
problemorexplanationsforaphenomenon.

Example:

Uponleavingthestore,thehusbandmumbles,

Sixtytwobucksintwentyminutes!Why,thisinflationisoutofcontrol!"

Hiswifesays."Notnecessarily,JustyesterdayIwasinthereforoveranhourand
spentonlytwelvedollars.AndtheWarbucksnextdoorjustspentoverthirty
thousanddollarsintenminutes."

"Inflationisn'tmeasuredbyhowfastwespendourmoneybutbyhowmuchour
moneycanbuycomparedwithsomeprevioustime."

Example:

Detectives

Gooddetectivesmusttestandevaluatesolutionsorexplanations;thatistheymust
thinkcritically.

5.CriticalThinkingcanbeappliednotonlytobeliefsandpositionsof
othersbutalsotoourown.

Criticalthinkinghelpsyouunderstandanddealwiththepositionsofothersandto
clarifyyourown.Itaimstogiveyouabasisforjustifyingbeliefsandfordirecting
furtherinvestigationandinquiry.

CriticalThinkingisaprocessthatemphasizesarationalbasisforbeliefsand
providesasetofstandardsandproceduresforanalyzing,testingandevaluating
them.
Blocksofcriticalthinking

1.Frameofreference

Example:

1.Afterall,partofbelievingsomethingisbelievingthatitstrue.SoifIweretodo
aninventoryofmybeliefstheydallseemtruetome.

2.Ivebeenmistakeninthepast.Ivelearnedonnumerousoccasions,andpretty
muchthroughoutmylife,thatthingsthatIbelievetobetruewerereallyfalse.

Thesecondreactionexpressesakindofintellectualmaturityandhumility,a
recognitionofhumanliabilityanderrorwhichisafundamentalcharacteristicofa
criticalthinker.

Butthefirstoneshows,therearesomeequallydeepseatedobstaclesineachofus
whichstandinthewayofdevelopmentofattitude.

Eachofushasabeliefstructureintowhichwehaveincorporatedanindefinitely
largenumberofbeliefssomanythattocountthemseemscrazy.

Mostofthesebeliefsweroutinelyjustassumewithoutanyconsciousdeliberation.

Yourbeliefstructureisnotstaticorpermanent.Rather,itundergoesalmost
constantchangeandrevisionasyoudealwithincominginformation.

Example:

InformationAge

Eachofushastobeveryselectiveaboutwherewedirectourattentioninthis
overwhelmingflowofinformation.

Thewaywedealwithincominginformationisdeterminedinlargepartbywhatwe
alreadybelieve.

Thisiswhatwemeanbyapersons

Frameofreferenceorworldview.

Weeachhaveatendencytoviewtheworld,includingourselves,accordingtoour
ownframeofreference;

thatis,accordingtotheorganizedbodyofaccumulatedbeliefsthatwerelyonto
interpretnewexperiencesandguideourbehavior.

Sothefactthatthissamebeliefstructurefunctionsalsoasaframeofreference
againstwhichnewinformationisevaluatedandrevisionstothebeliefstructureare
consideredexplainsquiteabitabouthumanfallibility.

2.EgocentricityandResistancetoChange
Manyofusreacttobeliefs,values,andattitudesthatchallengeourownwithself
righteouscontempt.

Thefactisthatmostofusonlyavoidviewscontrarytoourown,wesystematically
expelthemfromourexperience.Weresistchange

WHY?

Weresistchangepartlybecause(1)weperceiveitasathreattowhoandwhatwe
areandpartly(2)becausewebelieveinthesuperiorityofourownculture.

Intheviewofmineisbettermyideas,myvalues,myrace,mycountry,my
religion.

Inotherwords,weareEGOCENTRIC

Wearenaturallyinclinedtofavoranddefendourselvesandthepositions,values,
traditions,andgroupswithwhichweidentifyourselves.

3.Wishfulthinkingandselfdeception

Nodoubtpeoplewhohaveonoccasiontalkedthemselvesintobelievingthingsthat
theyknewwerenttrue.

EXAMPLE:

Thattheywerereadyforthemidtermexamwheninfacttheywerentreally
prepared.

Howcanapersonbeboththesuccessfuldeceiverandthevictimofthedeceptionat
thesametime?

Wearerationalcreatures,butnotperfectlyso.Wearealsosometimesirrational
creatures.

Soweoftenpersistinbelievingwhatwewanttobelieveorwhatwewishweretrue
inspiteofwhatweknoworhaveeveryreasontobelieve.

Andwedothissometimesatgreatperiltoothersandevenourselves.

Weshouldbepreparedtoadmitthatsometimesthetruthusjusttoopainfulfor
peopletowatchorlookat.

Peoplegointowhatsomepsychologistwouldcall

DENIAL.

Theyjustrefusetobelieveit.

Thatiswhy,selfdeceptionofanysortstandsdirectlyinthewayofcriticalthinking.

4.Ethnocentricityandculturalconditioning
Humansarenaturallysocialbeings.Wedonotsurvivewellorprosperinisolation.
Rather,wecollecttogetheringroups;Families,communities,nationsandcultures.

Ourwelfareasindividualsislargelydeterminedbyhowwellwedowithinour
groupsandhowwellourgroupsdo.

Thus,thereisanaturaltendencyinanygrouptowardconformityandorthodoxy.
Wetendtoincorporateintoourbeliefstructurestheideas,attitudes,andvaluesof
thoseinourgroup.

5.Hastymoraljudgment

MORALJUDGMENT

Itisanevaluationofsomeoneorsomethingasgoodorbad,rightandwrong.

Wemakemoraljudgmentsallthetime,thesearelargelyinfluencedbycultural
conditioning.

Wejudgepeopleonthebasisoftheirlooks,background,orassociations.

Webasesuchjudgmentsnotoncarefulconsiderationoffactualevidencebuton
emotion,prejudice,preconception,intolerance,orselfrighteousness.

Hastymoraljudgmentsareessentiallynonrationalthatis,unreasoned.Theyblunt
thegoalsofcriticalthinking:

INSIGHTANDUNDERSTANDING.

Thisdoesnotmeanthatweshouldnthavestrongmoralbeliefs.Buttheresabig
differencebetweenmoralconvictionsthatariseourofcarefuldeliberationandthose
thatprecedeorprecludeit.

6.RELIANCEONAUTHORITY

Anauthorityisanexpertsourceofinformationoutsideourselves.

Thesourcecanbea:

1) SINGLEINDIVIDUAL:includingaparent,ateacher,acelebrity,the
president.

2) GROUPOFINDIVIDUALS:includingdoctors,educators,apeergroup,a
nationalconsensus.

3) INSTITUTION:includingareligion,agovernmentagency,aneducational
establishment.

BUT,theresadanger.Wecansorelyonauthoritythatwestopthinkingof
ourselves.
Whendealingwithacontroversialissue,wemightfindoutwhatthemajority
thinksand,lookingnofurther,adoptthesameposition.

Thus,followingauthorityblindlyblockscriticalthinkingandundermines
intellectualautonomy.

7.LABELS

Labelsareessentialforcommunication.Theymakeitpossibleforusto
communicateacomplexsituationapieceatatime.

Theuseoflabelshelpsusreactspecificallytosomepartoftheenvironmentandto
dealwithnewandunfamiliarenvironmentsbypickingoutfamiliarfeatures.

Example:

Thereareaboutfourbillionentitiesintheworldtodaycorrespondingtoourlabel
thehumanrace.

Wecantpossiblydealindividuallywithsomanyhumanbeings.Wecanteven
individuatethedozensweencounterdaily.

Insteadwemustgroupthem,drawingthemanyintoasingleunitbymeansof
label.

BUT,theuseoflabelsareblockstocriticalthinking:

Becausebylumpingthingsintocategories,labelsignoreindividualdifferences.

Itcanresulttodistortion.

Besidescausingustooverlookindividualdifferences,labelstendtoencourage
polarizationandoversimplification.Thatis,theyencourageustoviewthingsin
starkblackandwhiteterms.

Thedangerinthisisthatwegettrappedthinkingintermsofmutuallyexclusive
categoriesandignoreotheralternatives,suchascompromisepositions.

Thiscansafelybesaidbecausetheskillsanddispositionsofcriticalthinkingare
essentialtosomethingevenmorefundamentalandbasic:

LOCALAUTONOMY.

Eachofusneedstoknowhowtoactfreelyasahumanbeingandhowtolearnfor
ourselves.Lackingthisknowledge,youremainaslavetotheideasofothersandthe
machinesprogrammedbythem.

Wethinkofnobetterwaytounderstandthestudyofcriticalthinkingthanasaset
oftoolsandproceduresofselfguidanceessentialtothinkingandlearningfor
oneself.
Manypeopledont,cant,orwontthinkcritically.Themainreasonforthis
inadequacyisthatpeoplefallvictimtocertainblocks,clichpatternsofviewing
things.

Nevertheless,criticalthinkingisnecessaryifwearetomakesenseofwhatwehear
andread,gaininsightintotheinformationandclaimsthatbombardus,make
discussionsmoreilluminating,anddevelopandevaluateourownpositionson
issues.