Critical thinking is a cognitive skill. Like the acquisition of many other skills, there are three main factors involved in learning critical thinking: theory, practice, and attitude.
- First, we need to learn the principles of critical thinking, such as some basic logic and the typical fallacies that people make. We have summarized some of the main principles in this little booklet.
- However, it is not enough just to know the basic principles. Knowing the rules and principles of tennis is not enough to become a good player, since you might not know how to apply what you know. This requires lots and lots of practice. The same goes for critical thinking. We need to be become more proficient in applying the principles of critical thinking in our daily lives.
- But persistent practice can bring progress only if we have the right motivation and attitude. People who dislike challenges or having to find things out for themselves will find it hard to improve their thinking. Self-improvement requires critical and honest reflection about the reasons behind our actions and beliefs. We must be willing to engage in debate,acknowledge our mistakes, break old habits, and deal with linguistic complexities and abstract concepts.
In this booklet we have discussed only a very small part of critical thinking. If you want to learn more you can look up these books and resources:
- Joe Lau (2011) An Introduction to Critical Thinking and Creativity — Think more, Think Better. Wiley. This textbook is written by the author of this miniguide and expands on the points discussed here. It also includes a few chapters on creative thinking.
- Richard Epstein (2016) –The Pocket Guide to Critical Thinking. A clear and concise text.
- Patrick Hurley (2011) A Concise Introduction to Logic. Wadsworth.
- Anthony Weston (2008)A Rulebook for Arguments. Hackett.
- http://philosophy.hku.hk/think– Critical thinking web, a website produced by the author of this guide, with free tutorials and exercises on critical and creative thinking.
- http://www.austhink.org/critical– A directory of online resources related to critical thinking maintained by Tim van Gelder.
Finally, do remember that mastering a skill takes a lot of time and effort. Good luck!