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PostPosted: Thu May 07, 2009 9:27 pm 
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Is there a path to wisdom?

How can I know what I do not know? How can I trace that boundary between knowledge and ignorance?

In the dialogue “Apology” Plato writes about Socrates while in the dungeon just before drinking the hemlock that the citizens of Athens condemned him to be executed.

In the dungeon shortly before drinking from the hemlock cup Socrates spoke to his followers. He spoke about the accusations against him at the trial. He said that the sworn indictment against him was “Socrates is guilty of needless curiosity and meddling interference, inquiring into things beneath Earth and in the Sky…”

Socrates further adds that he is accused of teaching the people of Athens, to which Socrates vehemently denies that he is a teacher. He points out that in matters of wisdom he has only a small piece of that territory; the wisdom that he does have is the wisdom not to think he knows what he does not know. Socrates conjectures that he has the wisdom to recognize the boundary of his present knowledge and to search for that knowledge that he does not have. “So it seems at any rate I am wiser in this one small respect: I do not think I know what I do not.”

For Socrates a necessary component of wisdom is to comprehend what one is ignorant of.

Am I wise? Do I know what I am ignorant of? I certainly know that I am ignorant of astronomy and music. There are many things about which it is obvious to me that I am ignorant of. Are there things about which I am not even aware of my ignorance? Are there matters about which I think I am knowledgeable of but which I am, in fact, ignorant of?

When I ask myself these questions I become conscious of a great number of things about which I am ignorant. Does this mean I am like Socrates in this matter? I do not think so. Socrates is speaking about two types of ignorance about which most people are unconscious of.

I think that Socrates is speaking of our ‘burden of illusion’. People are unconscious of the superficiality of much that they think they know and they are unconscious of a vast domain of knowledge that is hidden from the non critical thinker.


The uncritical mind has no means for discovering these illusions. CT (Critical Thinking) is the keystone for discovering these illusions. The Catch-22 here is how can one develop a critical mind when they are deluded into thinking they have a critical mind?

When our educational system has not taught our citizens how to think critically how can our citizens ever pull themselves out of this deep hole of illusion?


“It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble; it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so”—Mark Twain

coberstakaDutchuncle


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PostPosted: Mon May 11, 2009 11:50 pm 
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I understand what you are saying, but in order to think you have a grasp on critical thinking then you must first believe that you already are critically thinking. Does that make any sense to you? I may have said it wrong, to think that what I am thinking is wrong says that I already know the answer. a definate catch 22 joey978

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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 12:15 am 
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Coberst;

You are talking about the 4% factor, which doesn't count in the big picture.

All you have to be concerned with is the 96%...how they respond is what counts. The 4% you disregard.

Critical thinking is defined as what exactly?

Could you give us one example of how you would go about teaching critical thinking to a group of students?


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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 3:54 am 
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I would not try to teach reading to a group of kids. But seriously, critical thinking is what? Can someone define and teach me critical thinking and I am serious.
joey978

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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 5:37 am 
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Sorry joey978,,,,,forgot to address that to Coberst.

I hope they come back to explain to us what they perceive as critical thinking.


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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 4:12 pm 
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Me too Dave, critical thinking as what? Opposed to anylitical thinking? I grasp the concept as such but it seems to me that critical thinking can be manipulated to whatever the thinker wish's it to be, say by inserting ones own ideas as to what is correct and what isn't, so can it be that critical thinking is based on science and facts but what if the thinkers facts are not exactly facts but facts as thet believe them to be.
o.k. this is way too much for my brain at this time in the a.m. When my post time comes up, it is not my correct time, I am always 4 hours behind, so if it says I posted at 11 its really 7. joey978

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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 10:31 pm 
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david barclay wrote:
Coberst;

You are talking about the 4% factor, which doesn't count in the big picture.

All you have to be concerned with is the 96%...how they respond is what counts. The 4% you disregard.

Critical thinking is defined as what exactly?

Could you give us one example of how you would go about teaching critical thinking to a group of students?


First I would teach my students about the importance of fairmindedness.

To be fair-minded one must be vigilant (consciousness plus intention) of the need to treat all viewpoints alike. This demands that we adhere to intellectual standards such as accuracy and sound reasoning, which are unaffected by self-interest.

A contrast with fair-mindedness is intellectual self-centeredness.

Fair-mindedness is a challenging task that demands a family of character traits: intellectual humility, courage, empathy, honesty, perseverance, and a confidence in the value of reason.

Our culture places maximum value not on fair-mindedness but upon self-interest, and maximizing production, and consumption.


Intellectual humility begins with the recognition that absolute certainty regarding any matter of fact is beyond human capacity. There exists no mind-independent reality that we have the capacity to know. We can know only that which is “colored” by our experiences and historical perspective.

Our common sense views, coupled with philosophical tradition and religious dogma, all teach us that such is not the case, that we can find absolute certainty. This cultural tradition works aggressively against our goal of intellectual humility thus demanding that we must become more intellectually sophisticated in order to gain the level of intellectual humility required.

Intellectual courage is a difficult assignment. We all tend to place great value on our own opinion, which is more often than not just something that we grabbed as it flew by. But this is even more of a problem when we are “wedded” to something that we have a strong commitment to, for what ever reason. Our political affiliation is one example.

Intellectual courage is especially difficult, and even dangerous to our well being when we hold ideas that society considers them to be dangerous; even though we are confident that they are rationally grounded. Society often punishes severely all forms of nonconformity; the execution of Socrates by the citizens of Athens might serve as a good example.

By developing this character trait of intellectual courage we will often be ostracized from a group or even a large community. Such an experience will give us incentive to recognize that most people live their lives in such a manner as to be secure in the middle of the approval of those about us.

Intellectual courage ain’t for sissies!

Intellectual empathy is a consciousness that one must engage the imagination in an effort to intellectually place your self into the shoes of another so as to comprehend that other person as well as possible. To accomplish this transaction we must try to learn as much as possible about the other person’s situation so as to reconstruct that person’s assumptions, premises, and ideas.

Many of these ideas were gleaned from the book Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal Life by Richard Paul and Linda Elder


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PostPosted: Tue May 12, 2009 10:32 pm 
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joey978 wrote:
I would not try to teach reading to a group of kids. But seriously, critical thinking is what? Can someone define and teach me critical thinking and I am serious.
joey978


CT is an acronym for Critical Thinking. Everybody considers themselves to be a critical thinker. That is why we need to differentiate among different levels of critical thinking.

Most people fall in the category that I call Reagan thinkers—trust but verify. Then there are those who have taken the basic college course taught by the philosophy dept that I call Logic 101. This is a credit course that teaches the basic principles of reasoning. Of course, a person need not take the college course and can learn the matter on their own effort, but I suspect few do that.

The third level I call CT (Critical Thinking). CT includes the knowledge of Logic 101 and also the knowledge that focuses upon the intellectual character and attitude of critical thinking. It includes knowledge regarding the ego and social centric forces that impede rational thinking.

Most decisions we have to make are judgment calls. A judgment call is made when we must make a decision when there is no “true” or “false” answers. When we make a judgment call our decision is bad, good, or better.

Many factors are involved: there are the available facts, assumptions, skills, knowledge, and especially personal experience and attitude. I think that the two most important elements in the mix are personal experience and attitude.

When we study math we learn how to use various algorithms to facilitate our skill in dealing with quantities. If we never studied math we could deal with quantity on a primary level but our quantifying ability would be minimal. Likewise with making judgments; if we study the art and science of good judgment we can make better decisions and if we never study the art and science of judgment our decision ability will remain minimal.

I am convinced that a fundamental problem we have in this country (USA) is that our citizens have never learned the art and science of good judgment. Before the recent introduction of CT into our schools and colleges our young people have been taught primarily what to think and not how to think. All of us graduated with insufficient comprehension of the knowledge, skills, and attitude necessary for the formulation of good judgment. The result of this inability to make good judgment is evident and is dangerous.

I am primarily interested in the judgment that adults exercise in regard to public issues. Of course, any improvement in judgment generally will affect both personal and community matters.

To put the matter into a nut shell:
1. Normal men and women can significantly improve their ability to make judgments.
2. CT is the domain of knowledge that delineates the knowledge, skills, and intellectual character demanded for good judgment.
3. CT has been introduced into our schools and colleges slowly in the last two or three decades.
4. Few of today’s adults were ever taught CT.
5. I suspect that at least another two generations will pass before our society reaps significant rewards resulting from teaching CT to our children.
6. Can our democracy survive that long?
7. I think that every effort must be made to convince today’s adults that they need to study and learn CT on their own. I am not suggesting that adults find a teacher but I am suggesting that adults become self-actualizing learners.
8. I am convinced that learning the art and science of Critical Thinking is an important step toward becoming a better citizen in today’s democratic society.


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PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 9:30 am 
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From what you have said and my own experience....CT at the present time can get a person into a whole lot of trouble, where they find themselves on the outside of society looking in.

CT is a sure fire way to find yourself isolated and alone, an outsider on the inside.

This is not a healthy position for anyone and over the long haul they will pay dearly for the privilege.

But, when all is said and done........hey, it's one hell of a ride.

I do not agree that CT is on the rise, I would suggest it is going in the opposite direction and the gap is widening at an ever increasing rate.


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PostPosted: Wed May 13, 2009 12:24 pm 
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david barclay wrote:
From what you have said and my own experience....CT at the present time can get a person into a whole lot of trouble, where they find themselves on the outside of society looking in.

CT is a sure fire way to find yourself isolated and alone, an outsider on the inside.

This is not a healthy position for anyone and over the long haul they will pay dearly for the privilege.

But, when all is said and done........hey, it's one hell of a ride.

I do not agree that CT is on the rise, I would suggest it is going in the opposite direction and the gap is widening at an ever increasing rate.


You are correct. Every step we take toward intellecual sophistication is a step away from the muddled masses. It is dirty work but some one must do it.


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