The Challenge of Becoming Critical Thinkers
The question of how to survive in the world is one that continually transforms itself. Accelerating change, increasing complexity, and intensifying danger sound the death knell for traditional methods of learning. How can we adapt to reality when reality won’t give us the time to master it before it changes, again and again, in ways we can but partially anticipate? Unfortunately, most cultures and most schools ignore the crucial need for ever-new modes of thought to adapt to new problems and situations in new and humane ways. Short-term thinking, which leads to quick-fix “solutions,” is still largely the rule of the day. Great power is wielded around the world by sophistic minds. Critical thinking is not a social value in any society, broadly speaking. If we are to take up the challenge of becoming critical thinkers, we face a battery of hitherto unanswered questions that define the detailed agenda of this book. This question-centered agenda provides the impetus for reformulating our worldview. Through it, we can appreciate the intellectual work required to change our thinking in foundational ways. Through it, we can grasp the need to regularly re-examine the extent of our ignorance. Through it, we can grasp the need for regular exercise of disciplined thinking. Through it, we can understand the long-term nature of intellectual development, social change, and personal growth and transformation.
Every chapter of this book highlights crucial questions we need to ask about thinking. All deal with essential dimensions of the problems we face in thinking. All challenge our perseverance and courage. In the end, we must face ourselves honestly and forthrightly.