I cannot teach anybody anything, I can only make them think.
– Socrates

Critical thinking, which has its origin from the teachings of Aristotle and Socrates especially, is a life skill. In the making of sound judgments and decisions which is the hallmark of everyday living to the avoidance of prejudice as a result of sound reasoning, critical thinking is not to be downplayed.

According to Joe Y. F. Lau, critical thinking is “thinking clearly and rationally. It involves thinking precisely and systematically, and following the rules of logic and scientific reasoning, among other things.” In simpler terms, critical thinking is purely evaluative; it is critically evaluating a claim or stand with the goal of proving or testing the acceptability of its arguments. Reading and writing which are features of an educated mind must be backed up by sound reasoning which makes use of logic to separate truths from falsehood. In a world rich in knowledge and confusing opinions, a critical mind is of necessity since there are tendencies to embrace falsehood as a result of faulty reasoning and the aftermath or consequences are both social and personal. Below are useful hints in developing a critical mind.

Ask Questions

To set your critical mind in motion, you must be ready to ask and get clarifications on those mind bugging questions. Get to the root of a conversation or text and seek clarifications on claims that are not so clear to you. You could go into research or get clarifications by asking questions directly.

Kindle the Flame

The above subtitle is a metaphor that expresses the need for evaluation. By evaluating, you either accept or deny a position or claim by questioning its merits and demerits. According to Socrates, “education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel”. You will trigger your creative mind when you analyse correctly your position and that of others, by taking a step by step approach that is backed up by a set of proven standard or evidences. By so doing, you will kindle that flame that would crave for more knowledge by furnishing your mind with the right tools for critical thinking and this, will in turn fill your mind with sound judgments, knowledge and wisdom.

Be Receptive to Varying Views or Opinions

Be receptive to others opinions by treating your opinions as separate from your identity; disagreements shouldn’t be taken as an attack on your person. Be open to criticisms and varying views or opinions. A true mark of an educated mind according to Aristotle is the ability to “entertain a thought without accepting it” and I would add, without necessarily accepting it. Entertain varying views and opinions, evaluate them and when necessary, accept or discard them.

Be Vast

To have or develop a critical mind, you must be an avid reader and researcher. Read books and articles not necessarily connected to your discipline especially books on history. Have a rich bank of knowledge because out of this, proceed substantial evidences needed to back up your claims.

By doing all of these, you are on the right track of setting in motion your critical mind which will come in handy in real life situations. Good luck…

1 Comment
  1. Cliff Imasuen
    Cliff Imasuen 2 years ago

    A critical mind is what gives us the ability to not accept everything we are told hook, line and sinker, without probing deeper to ascertain the validity of the information.

    But is it possible for a mind to be “too” critical? Are there times when one needs to avoid being too critical, perhaps for the sake of…well, courtesy or peace?

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