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Humanities LibreTexts

1.1: Introduction

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  • Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally about what to believe or do. This requires careful, reflective and independent thinking.

    • Critical thinking does not mean being argumentative or always being critical of others.Although critical thinking skills can be used to expose fallacies and bad reasoning, they can also be used to support other viewpoints, and to acquire new knowledge.
    • Good critical thinking helps us solve problems, and is useful for all kinds of careers.Thinking clearly and logically also helps us express our ideas more effectively, and improves our presentation and language skills.
    • Some people think that critical thinking is incompatible with creativity. This is a misconception, as creativity is not just a matter of coming up with new ideas. The new ideas should also be useful. We need critical thinking to evaluate whether an idea is useful, and find ways to make them even better.
    • Critical thinking is necessary for self-reflection. To live a meaningful life, we need to think about ourselves and our values objectively and critically.

    This mini guide introduces some of the basic concepts and principles of critical thinking. But it is not meant to be a comprehensive survey. For further study, readers can consult my textbook An Introduction to Critical Thinking and Creativity – Think more, Think Better, published by Wiley in 2011. There is also a list of recommended books and online resources at the end of this guide.

    Joe Y.F. Lau

    Department of Philosophy

    The University of Hong Kong



    Jan 2020

    Copyright: This work is free to use for non-commercial purposes under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

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