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Critical Thinking: Learn the Tools the Best Thinkers Use / Edition 1

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Overview

Written by two of the leading experts in critical thinking, this book focuses on an integrated, universal concept of critical thinking that is both substantive and applicable to any and every situation in which human thinking is necessary. It provides readerse with the basic intellectual tools needed for life-long learning, helping them understand the mind and how its three functions — thinking, feeling, motivation — influence and are influenced by one another. This book fosters the development of fair-minded critical thinking. Features the intellectual standards: clarity, precision, accuracy, logicalness, significance, depth, breadth, and fairness; The importance of good questioning; and intellectual tools to read for deep and lasting comprehension, and to write in ways that show clarity of reasonability of thought. For all that want to improve their critical thinking skills to apply to their job or life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This book is well-written, lucid and contains abundant examples and applications that not only enliven the subject matter but present relevant contexts for building understanding and advanced critical thinking. In addition, it is faithful to the complexity and work required to improve one's thinking. It does not soft-pedal the challenge but actually throws down the gauntlet to the worthy Reader to pick it up."

--Stephen J. Knopp, Ph.D., Ohio University

"This concise version is a more comprehensive and robust textbook. Many Critical Thinking books cover thinking from a narrow angle, but Paul and Elder offer a model of critical thinking that can be applied not only to academic disciplines but also to life in general."

--Connie Wolfe, Surry Community College

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Product Details

Meet the Author

DR. RICHARD W. PAUL is Director of Research and Professional Development at the Center for Critical Thinking and the Chair of the National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking. He has authored eight books and more than 200 articles on critical thinking. In over 35 years of teaching experience, he has won numerous awards and honors, including Distinguished Perry Lecturer for the year 2000.

DR. LINDA ELDER is an educational psychologist, President for the Foundation for Critical Thinking, and Executive Director of the Center for Critical Thinking. She is highly published and has done original research into the relation of thought and emotion. She is a regular keynoter at the International Conference on Critical Thinking and is a recognized leader in the field.

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Read an Excerpt

PREFACE:

PREFACE

You are what you think. That's right. Whatever you are doing right now, whatever you feel, whatever you want—all are determined by the quality of your thinking. If your thinking is unrealistic, it will lead you to many disappointments. If your thinking is overly pessimistic, it will deny you due recognition of the many things in which you should properly rejoice.

Test this idea for yourself. Identify some examples of your strongest feelings or emotions. Then identify the thinking that is correlated with those examples. For example, if you feel excited about college, it is because you think that good things will happen to you in college. If you dread going to class, it is probably because you think it will be boring or too difficult.

In a similar way, if the quality of your life is not what you would wish it to be, it is most likely because it is tied to the way you think about your life. If you think about it positively, you will feel positive about it. If you think about it negatively, you will feel negative about it.

For example, suppose you came to college with the view that college was going to be a lot of fun and you were going to form good friendships with fellow students who would respect and like you and, what is more, that your romantic relationships would become interesting and exciting. And let's suppose that hasn't happened. If this were the thrust of your thinking, you now would feel disappointed and maybe even frustrated (depending on how negative your experience has been interpreted by your thinking).

For most people, thinking is subconscious, neverexplicitly put into words. For example, most people who think negatively would not say of themselves, "I have chosen to think about myself and my experience in largely negative terms. I prefer to be as unhappy as I can be."

The problem is that when you are not aware of your thinking, you have no chance of correcting poor thinking. When thinking is subconscious, you are in no position to see any problems in it. And, if you don't see any problems in it, you won't be motivated to change it.

The truth is that since few people realize the powerful role that thinking plays in our lives, few gain significant command of it. Therefore, most people are in many ways victims of their own thinking, that is, harmed rather than helped by it. Most people are their own worst enemy. Their thinking is a continual source of problems, preventing them from recognizing opportunities, keeping them from exerting energy where it will do the most good, poisoning relationships, and leading them down blind alleys.

In this book we are concerned with helping you take charge of what you do, what you learn, and how you feel by taking command of how and what you think. We hope that you will discover the power of your thinking and will choose to develop it in ways that serve your interests, as well as the well-being of others.

The single most significant variable in determining the quality of what you learn in college is your thinking. Certainly your, teachers will play a role in your learning. Some of them will do a better job than others of helping you learn. But even the best teachers can help you very little if you lack the intellectual skills necessary for thinking well through course content.

This book introduces you to the tools of mind you need to reason well through the problems and issues you face, whether in the classroom, in your personal life, or in your professional life. If you take these ideas seriously, you can do something for yourself of lifelong value.

If all goes as we plan it, you gradually will become more and more aware of the thinking that causes you problems. And you will be able to change that thinking so you can experience a more satisfying life. You will find that learning, both inside and outside of class, will become more and more rewarding. You will increasingly be able to take the ideas you are learning in class and apply them to your life in a useful way.

The choice is yours, and the quality of your choice can only be as good as the thinking you use to come to that choice. If you think that taking command of your thinking is not important (perhaps you assume that you already have that command), this book won't help you learn to think any better than you do now. If, however, you sense that you have not yet achieved the personal control over your thinking we are speaking of, and you recognize its potential value, you will read on, and progressively take the steps to create personal control and power.

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Table of Contents

Preface.

Introduction: A “Start-up” Definition of Critical Thinking.

How Skilled Are You as a Thinker?

Good Thinking Requires Hard Work.

The Concept of Critical Thinking.

Become a Critic of Your Thinking.

Establish New Habits of Thought.

Develop Confidence in Your Ability to Reason and Figure Things Out.

An “Elaborated” Definition of Critical Thinking.

1. How the Mind Can Discover Itself.

Recognize the Mind’s Three Basic Functions.

Establish a Special Relationship to Your Mind.

Connect Academic Subjects to Your Life.

Learn Both Intellectually and Emotionally.

2. Discover The Parts of Thinking.

Thinking Is Everywhere in Human Life.

The Parts of Thinking.

How the Parts of Thinking Fit Together.

The Relationship Between the Elements.

The Best Thinkers Think to Some Purpose.

The Best Thinkers Take Command of Concepts.

The Best Thinkers Assess Information.

The Best Thinkers Distinguish Between Inferences and Assumptions.

The Best Thinkers Think Through Implications.

The Best Thinkers Think Across Points of View.

The Point of View of the Critical Thinker.

Conclusion.

3. Discover Universal Standards for Thinking.

Take a Deeper Look at Intellectual Standards.

Clarity.

Accuracy.

Precision.

Relevance.

Depth.

Breadth.

Logicalness.

Significance.

Fairness.

Bringing Together the Elements of Reasoning and the Intellectual Standards.

Purpose, Goal, or End In View.

Question at Issue or Problem to Be Solved.

Point of View or Frame of Reference.

Information, Data, Experiences.

Concepts, Theories, Ideas.

Assumptions.

Implications and Consequences.

Inferences.

Brief Guidelines For Using Intellectual Standard.

4. Redefining Grades as Levels of Thinking and Learning.

Develop Strategies for Assessing Your Learning.

Use Student Profiles to Assess Your Performance.

Exemplary Students (Grade of A).

High Performing Students (Grade of B).

Mixed-Quality Students (Grade of C).

Low-Performing Students (Grade of D or F).

Apply Student Profiles to Assess Your Performance Within Specific Disciplines: Exemplified by an Introduction to Psychology Course.

Exemplary to Low-Performing.

Conclusion.

5. Learn to Ask the Questions the Best Thinkers Ask.

The Importance of Questions in Thinking.

Questioning Your Questions.

Dead Questions Reflect Inert Minds.

Three Categories of Questions.

Become a Socratic Questioner.

Focus Your Thinking on the Type of Question Being Asked.

Focus Your Questions on Universal Intellectual Standards for Thought.

Focus Your Questions on the Elements of Thought.

Focus Your Questions on Prior Questions.

Focus Your Questions on Domains of Thinking.

Conclusion.

6. Discover How the Best Thinkers Learn.

18 Ideas for Improving Your Studies.

The Logic of a College as It Is.

How the Best Students Learn.

The Design of a College Class.

Figure Out the Underlying Concept of Your Courses.

Figure Out the Form of Thinking Essential to Courses or Subjects.

Think Within the Logic of the Subject.

A Case: The Logic of Biochemistry.

Make the Design of the Course Work for You.

Sample Course: American History, 1600—1800.

Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, and Thinking.

Figure Out the Logic of an Article or Essay.

Figure Out the Logic of a Textbook.

Criteria for Evaluating an Author’s Reasoning.

A Test To Repeat In Every Class & Subject.

7. Learn How to Read Closely and Write Substantively.

Part I: Discover Close Reading.

Read for a Purpose.

Consider the Author’s Purpose.

Avoid Impressionistic Reading and Writing.

Read Reflectively.

Think About Reading While Reading.

Engage the Text While Reading.

Think of Books as Teachers.

Reading Minds.

The Work of Reading.

Structural Reading.

How to Read a Sentence.

How to Read a Paragraph.

How to Read a Textbook.

How to Read a Newspaper.

How to Read an Editorial.

Take Ownership (Mark it Up).

The Best Readers Read to Learn.

Part II: Discover Substantive Writing.

Write for a Purpose.

Substantive Writing.

The Problem of Impressionistic Writing.

Write Reflectively.

How to Write a Sentence.

Write to Learn.

Substantive Writing in Content Areas.

Relate Core Ideas to Other Core Ideas.

The Work of Writing.

Question as You Write.

Non-Substantive Writing.

Part III: Practice Close Reading and Substantive Writing.

Five Levels of Close Reading (that Overlap With Substantive Writing).

Paraphrasing.

Clarification Strategies.

Sample Paraphrases.

Paraphrasing Short Quotes.

Exercises in the Five Levels of Close Reading and Substantive Writing.

The Declaration of Independence, by Thomas Jefferson et. al.

Civil Disobedience (Two Excerpts), by Henry David Thoreau.

Exploring Conflicting Ideas.

Exploring Key Ideas Within Disciplines.

Analyzing Reasoning.

Evaluating Reasoning.

8. Become a Fair-minded Thinker.

Weak vs. Strong Critical Thinking.

What Does Fair-Mindedness Require?

Intellectual Humility: The Best Thinkers Strive to Discover the Extent of Their Ignorance.

Intellectual Courage: The Best Thinkers have the Courage to Challenge Popular Beliefs.

Intellectual Empathy: The Best Thinkers Empathically Enter Opposing Views.

Intellectual Integrity: The Best Thinkers Hold Themselves to the Same Standards to Which They Hold Others.

Intellectual Perseverance: The Best Thinkers Do Not Give Up Easily, But Work Their Way Through Complexities and Frustration.

Confidence In Reason: The Best Thinkers Respect Evidence and Reasoning and Value Them as Tools for Discovering the Truth.

Intellectual Autonomy: The Best Thinkers Value Their Independence in Thought.

The Best Thinkers Recognize the Interdependence of Intellectual Virtues.

Conclusion.

9. Deal With Your Irrational Mind.

Part I: The Best Thinkers Take Charge of Their Egocentric Nature.

Understand Egocentric Thinking.

Understand Egocentrism as a Mind Within the Mind.

Successful Egocentric Thinking.

Unsuccessful Egocentric Thinking.

Rational Thinking.

Two Egocentric Functions.

Egocentric Domination.

Egocentric Submission.

Pathological Tendencies of the Human Mind.

The Best Thinkers Challenge the Pathological Tendencies of Their Minds.

The Challenge of Rationality.

Part II: The Best Thinkers Take Charge of Their Sociocentric Thinking.

The Nature of Sociocentrism.

Social Stratification.

Sociocentric Thinking Is Unconscious and Potentially Dangerous.

Sociocentric Uses of Language.

Disclose Sociocentric Thinking Through Conceptual Analysis.

Reveal Ideology at Work Through Conceptual Analysis.

The Mass Media Foster Sociocentric Thinking.

Conclusion: The Best Thinkers Work to Free Themselves from Egocentric and Sociocentric Thought.

10. The Stages of Critical Thinking Development: At What Stage Are You?

Stage One: The Unreflective Thinker.

Stage Two: The Challenged Thinker.

Stage Three: The Beginning Thinker.

Stage Four: The Practicing Thinker.

APPENDICES.

Appendix A: Further Exercises in Close Reading and Substantive Writing.

The Nineteenth-Century American, by Henry Steele Commager.

The Art of Loving, by Erich Fromm.

Man’s Search for Meaning, by Viktor E. Frankl.

History of the Great American Fortunes, by Gustavus Myers.

On Liberty, by H. L. Mencken.

Corn-Pone Opinions, by Mark Twain.

The Idea of Education, by John Henry Newman.

Appendix B: Sample Analyses of “The Logic of . . .”

Appendix C: What We Mean By “The Best Thinkers?”

Glossary.

References.

Index.

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Preface

PREFACE:

PREFACE

You are what you think. That's right. Whatever you are doing right now, whatever you feel, whatever you want—all are determined by the quality of your thinking. If your thinking is unrealistic, it will lead you to many disappointments. If your thinking is overly pessimistic, it will deny you due recognition of the many things in which you should properly rejoice.

Test this idea for yourself. Identify some examples of your strongest feelings or emotions. Then identify the thinking that is correlated with those examples. For example, if you feel excited about college, it is because you think that good things will happen to you in college. If you dread going to class, it is probably because you think it will be boring or too difficult.

In a similar way, if the quality of your life is not what you would wish it to be, it is most likely because it is tied to the way you think about your life. If you think about it positively, you will feel positive about it. If you think about it negatively, you will feel negative about it.

For example, suppose you came to college with the view that college was going to be a lot of fun and you were going to form good friendships with fellow students who would respect and like you and, what is more, that your romantic relationships would become interesting and exciting. And let's suppose that hasn't happened. If this were the thrust of your thinking, you now would feel disappointed and maybe even frustrated (depending on how negative your experience has been interpreted by your thinking).

For most people, thinking is subconscious,neverexplicitly put into words. For example, most people who think negatively would not say of themselves, "I have chosen to think about myself and my experience in largely negative terms. I prefer to be as unhappy as I can be."

The problem is that when you are not aware of your thinking, you have no chance of correcting poor thinking. When thinking is subconscious, you are in no position to see any problems in it. And, if you don't see any problems in it, you won't be motivated to change it.

The truth is that since few people realize the powerful role that thinking plays in our lives, few gain significant command of it. Therefore, most people are in many ways victims of their own thinking, that is, harmed rather than helped by it. Most people are their own worst enemy. Their thinking is a continual source of problems, preventing them from recognizing opportunities, keeping them from exerting energy where it will do the most good, poisoning relationships, and leading them down blind alleys.

In this book we are concerned with helping you take charge of what you do, what you learn, and how you feel by taking command of how and what you think. We hope that you will discover the power of your thinking and will choose to develop it in ways that serve your interests, as well as the well-being of others.

The single most significant variable in determining the quality of what you learn in college is your thinking. Certainly your, teachers will play a role in your learning. Some of them will do a better job than others of helping you learn. But even the best teachers can help you very little if you lack the intellectual skills necessary for thinking well through course content.

This book introduces you to the tools of mind you need to reason well through the problems and issues you face, whether in the classroom, in your personal life, or in your professional life. If you take these ideas seriously, you can do something for yourself of lifelong value.

If all goes as we plan it, you gradually will become more and more aware of the thinking that causes you problems. And you will be able to change that thinking so you can experience a more satisfying life. You will find that learning, both inside and outside of class, will become more and more rewarding. You will increasingly be able to take the ideas you are learning in class and apply them to your life in a useful way.

The choice is yours, and the quality of your choice can only be as good as the thinking you use to come to that choice. If you think that taking command of your thinking is not important (perhaps you assume that you already have that command), this book won't help you learn to think any better than you do now. If, however, you sense that you have not yet achieved the personal control over your thinking we are speaking of, and you recognize its potential value, you will read on, and progressively take the steps to create personal control and power.

Read More Show Less

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2006

    Critical Failure

    This book doesn't teach Critical Thinking, unless to think critically means that you are willing to only think about things from an ultra left point of view. Chapter 12 has nothing but Anti-American propoganda, one of the things this book says it wants to do away with. Not a single point of view or listed 'outside the box' author is from a conservative, or even moderate background. I gave it a 1 star because they didn't offer me the choice of negative stars.

    30 out of 54 people found this review helpful.

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