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Explaining Critical Thinking & Logic

What is the most important concept about critical thinking for a person? What tools/insights does critical thinking give someone to make positive change in their life?

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Dear Student,
The solution below concisely explains critical thinking from a socio-philosophical viewpoint and provides a first-person example to exhibit application. I hope that this solution will be of help to you. A word version is attached for easy printing. Good luck with your studies and thank you for using Brainmass.

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OTA 105878/Xenia Jones
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Defining Critical Thinking

"Critical thinking is best understood as the ability of thinkers to take charge of their own thinking. This requires that they develop sound criteria and standards for analyzing and assessing their own thinking and routinely use those criteria and standards to improve its quality."

- Elder, L. and Paul, R. "Critical thinking: why we must transform our teaching." Journal of Developmental Education, Fall 1994.

Critical thinking, as Elder & Paul connotes above, is an essential tool for thinkers, especially in the academia. To know one's mind and to set rules to follow to make the best possible decision or choice given a problem and to be able to arrive at it via a sound methodology is essentially what it refers to as a whole though there are various processes, methods & theories one could use dependent heavily upon the nature of the question itself. Philosophy usually refers to the act of Critical Thinking as the use of Informal Logic, when logical concepts are applied to everyday reasoning and problem solving; unlike in formal logic studies where the focus is on the precise symbolic representation of concepts, their abstract relationships and their systemization.

Informal Logic or critical thinking seeks to find the truth by the use of reason. There are of course various debates against the ability of reason alone to find the perfect truth; however logical thinking's aim is to arrive at what is perceived to be true by means of finding it within the sentences we speak --- via patterns, inferences, induction & deduction, supportive concepts/idea/data that verify what eventually emerges as the 'truth' or the right decision. There is no great mystery in finding the 'truth', most of the time when faced with a problem and a body of data that could either confirm or deny it, the key act is to apply patterns of inference so we can identify, study and provide ideas/statements that support the emergent truth. In decision making in the academia we do not just read a question and right away decide on what feels 'true'. To 'attack' the question we need to understand what it really wants us to do, it's scope and the various ways that the 'truth' or knowledge it seeks can be arrived at. What can be inferred from the question? What other ways can ...

Solution Summary

The solution concisely explains critical thinking from a socio-philosophical viewpoint and provides a first-person example to exhibit application. Key attributes of the Critical Thinker are narrated and the types of logic and its application in decision making is also expounded on. The solution follows the APA format and a word version is attached for easy printing.

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