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Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal Life

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Critical Thinking: Tools for Taking Charge of Your Professional and Personal Life


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  • Copyright 2002
  • Edition: 1st
  • Book
  • ISBN-10: 0-13-064760-8
  • ISBN-13: 978-0-13-064760-3

Critical Thinking is about becoming a better thinker in every aspect of your life: in your career, and as a consumer, citizen, friend, parent, and lover. Discover the core skills of effective thinking; then analyze your own thought processes, identify weaknesses, and overcome them. Learn how to translate more effective thinking into better decisions, less frustration, more wealth Ñ and above all, greater confidence to pursue and achieve your most important goals in life.

Sample Content

Online Sample Chapter

Overcoming Obstacles to Critical Thinking in Your Organization

Table of Contents



1. Thinking in a World of Accelerating Change and Intensifying Danger.

The Nature of the Post-Industrial World Order. A Complex World of Accelerating Change. A Threatening World. Change, Danger, and Complexity: Interwoven. The Challenge of Becoming Critical Thinkers. Recommended Reading.

2. Becoming a Critic of Your Thinking.

How Skilled is Your Thinking (Right Now)? Good Thinking Is as Easy as Bad Thinking (But It Requires Hard Work to Develop It). The Hard Cruel World. Become a Critic of Your Own Thinking. Conclusion.

3. Becoming a Fair-Minded Thinker.

Weak versus Strong Critical Thinking. What Does Fair-Mindedness Require? Intellectual Humility: Having Knowledge of Ignorance. Intellectual Courage: Being Willing to Challenge Beliefs. Intellectual Empathy: Entertaining Opposing Views. Intellectual Integrity: Holding Ourselves to the Same Standards to Which We Hold Others. Intellectual Perseverance: Working Through Complexity and Frustration.

4. Confidence in Reason: Recognizing that Good Reasoning Has Proven Its Worth.

Intellectual Autonomy: Being an Independent Thinker. Recognizing the Interdependence of Intellectual Virtues. Conclusion.

5. Self-Understanding.

Monitoring the Egocentrism in Your Thought and Life. Making a Commitment to Fair-Mindedness. Recognizing the Mind's Three Distinctive Functions. Understanding That You Have a Special Relationship to Your Mind.

6. The First Four Stages of Development: What Level Thinker Are You?

Stage One: The Unreflective Thinker-Are You an Unreflective Thinker? Stage Two: The Challenged Thinker-Are You Ready to Accept the Challenge? Stage Three: The Beginning Thinker-Are You Willing to Begin? Stage Four: The Practicing Thinker-Good Thinking Can Be Practiced. Like Basketball, Tennis, or Ballet. A "Game Plan" for Improvement. A Game Plan for Devising a Game Plan.

7. The Parts of Thinking.

Reasoning Is Everywhere in Human Life. Does Reasoning Have Parts? Beginning to Think About Your Own Reasoning. The Elements of Thought: A First Look. An Everyday Example: Jack and Jill. Analysis of the Example. The Elements of Thought in Relationship. The Relationship Between the Elements. Thinking to Some Purpose. Thinking with Concepts. Thinking with Information. Distinguishing Between Inert Information, Activated Ignorance, and Activated Knowledge. Some Key Questions to Ask When Pursuing Information. Distinguishing Between Inferences and Assumptions. Understanding Implications. Thinking Within and Across Points of View. Using Critical Thinking to Take Charge of How We See Things. The Point of View of the Critical Thinker. Conclusion.

8. The Standards for Thinking.

Taking a Deeper Look at Universal Intellectual Standards. Bringing Together the Elements of Reasoning and the Intellectual Standards. Using Intellectual Standards to Assess Your Thinking: Brief Guidelines.

9. Design Your Life.

Fate or Freedom: Which Do You Choose? Recognizing the Dual Logic of Experience. Facing Contradictions and Inconsistencies. Social Forces, the Mass Media, and Our Experience. Reading Backwards. Implications for the Design of Your Life.

10. The Art of Making Intelligent Decisions.

Thinking Globally About Your Life. Evaluating Patterns in Decision-Making. “Big” Decisions. The Logic of Decision-Making. Recognizing the Need for an Important Decision. Accurately Recognizing the Alternatives. Putting More Time into Your Decision-Making. Being Systematic. Dealing with One Major Decision at a Time. Developing Knowledge of Your Ignorance. Dimensions of Decision-Making. Regularly Re-Articulate and Reevaluate Your Goals, Purposes, and Needs. The Early Decisions. Adolescent Decisions. Early Adult Decisions. Conclusion.

11. Taking Charge of Your Irrational Tendencies.

Egocentric Thinking. Understanding Egocentric Thinking. Understanding Egocentrism as a Mind Within the Mind. “Successful” Egocentrism. “Unsuccessful” Egocentrism. Rational Thinking. Two Egocentric Functions. Dominating Egocentrism. Submissive Egocentrism. Pathological Tendencies of the Human Mind. Challenging the Pathological Tendencies of the Mind. The Challenge of Rationality.

12. Monitoring Your Sociocentric Tendencies.

The Nature of Sociocentrism. Sociocentric Thinking as Pathology. Social Stratification. Sociocentric Thinking Is Unconscious and Potentially Dangerous. Sociocentric Use of Language in Groups. Disclosing Sociocentric Thinking Through Conceptual Analysis. Revealing Ideology at Work Through Conceptual Analysis. The Mass Media Foster Sociocentric Thinking. The Mass Media Play Down Information That Puts the Nation in a Negative Light. Freedom from Sociocentric Thought: The Beginnings of Genuine Conscience. The Capacity to Recognize Unethical Acts. Conclusion.

13. Developing as an Ethical Reasoner.

Why People are Confused About Ethics. The Fundamentals of Ethical Reasoning. Ethical Concepts and Principles. The Universal Nature of Ethical Principles. Distinguishing Ethics from Other Domains of Thinking. Ethics and Religion. Religious Beliefs Are Socially or Culturally Relative. Ethics and Social Conventions. Practices That Are Socially or Culturally Relative. Ethics and the Law. Ethics and Sexual Taboos. Understanding Our Native Selfishness.

14. Analyzing and Evaluating Thinking in Corporate and Organizational Life.

Introduction. Critical Thinking and Incremental Improvement. An Obstacle to Critical Thinking Within Organizations: The Covert Struggle for Power. Another Obstacle: Group Definitions of Reality. A Third Obstacle: The Problem of Bureaucracy. The Problem of Misleading Success. Competition, Sound Thinking, and Success. Stagnating Organizations and Industries. Questioning Organizational Realities. Assessing Irrational Thinking in Organizational Life. The Power of Sound Thinking. Some Personal Implications. Conclusion.

15. The Power and Limits of Professional Knowledge (And of the Disciplines that Underlie Them).

Professional Fallibility and the Glut of Information. The Ideal of Professional Knowledge. Who Should We Believe? True and False Loyalty to a Profession. The Gap Between Fact and Ideal. Assessing A Profession or a Professional Conclusion: Matters of Fact, Matters of Opinion, Matters of Judgment. The Ideal Compared to the Real. Professions Based on the Ideal of Mathematics and Abstract Quantification. The Pain and Suffering of Those Who Fail. Loss of Self-Esteem and Opportunity to Receive Higher Education. Low Level of Math Competency of Those Who Pass School Examinations. The Ideal of Science: Physics, Chemistry, Astronomy, Geology, and Biology. The Ideal of Social Science: History, Sociology, Anthropology, Economics, and Psychology. History as an Ideal. Sociology as an Ideal. Anthropology as an Ideal. Economics as an Ideal. The Social Sciences as Taught and Practiced. The Ideal of the Arts and Humanities: Music, Painting, Sculpture, Architecture, Dance, Literature, and Philosophy. The Promise of the Fine Arts and Literature. The Reality of Instruction in the Fine Arts and Literature. The Promise of Philosophy. The Reality of Philosophy. Conclusion.

16. Strategic Thinking Part One.

Understanding and Using Strategic Thinking. Components of Strategic Thinking. The Beginnings of Strategic Thinking. Key Idea #1: Thoughts, Feelings, and Desires are Interdependent. Key Idea #2: There is a Logic to This, and You Can Figure It Out. Key Idea #3: For Thinking to Be of High Quality, We Must Routinely Assess it.

17. Strategic Thinking Part Two.

Key Idea #4: Our Native Egocentrism Is a Default Mechanism. Key Idea #5: We Must Become Sensitive to the Egocentrism of Those Around Us. Key Idea #6: The Mind Tends to Generalize Beyond the Original Experience. Key Idea #7: Egocentric Thinking Appears to the Mind as Rational. Key Idea #8: The Egocentric Mind Is Automatic in Nature. Key Idea #9: We Often Pursue Power Through Dominating or Submissive Behavior. Key Idea #10: Humans Are Naturally Sociocentric Animals. Key Idea #11: Developing Rationality Requires Work. Conclusion.

Glossary: A Guide to Critical Thinking Terms and Concepts.




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