Talking about the development of critical thinking will be incomplete if we do not mention scepticism. From the point of view of critical thinking, scepticism assumes that a person casts some doubt absolutely everything that he encounters. This does not mean that he does not believe everything he hears or sees – he simply acknowledges the fact that his views can change if he receives any additional information.
Critical thinking suggests applying doubts and scepticism constructively, evaluating all available information. Thanks to this, we can make more informed and objective judgments on what we consider productive, correct, true, and vice versa. It also significantly increases the effectiveness of our decisions.
There are people who seem more trusting than others, and there are those who are more sceptical. The reason lies both in personal qualities and in the life experience of a person. But critical thinking is neither an innate feature nor a character trait – it is a specific method that allows interpreting events in a certain way. Sceptics can take an orderly approach, and gullible people can simply question everything constructively.
As for the reasoning, here we are talking more about rational thinking. Rationality involves the use of reasons to explain phenomena, events, and facts. And reasoning, as a rule, always starts precisely from oneself. It looks something like this:
• Initially, a person finds reasons: why he believes in something or does something (at the same time, he realizes what these reasons are)
• He then critically evaluates his actions and beliefs.
• In the end, he can explain the reasons for his actions and beliefs to others.
At first glance, all this is very simple, because it seems to us that we know why and what exactly we believe. But in some cases, doubts begin to overwhelm us, as a result of which our own beliefs no longer seem so true. In fact, we really have no idea about the completeness of the information we possess and we begin to think: maybe everything that we hear or see is just one of the variations?
There are also cases when we are not sure whether we are explaining something correctly and acting correctly. Therefore, it is necessary to resort to the development of observation and study the basis of your own reasoning, beliefs and actions, because only they will help us conduct any critical analysis.
But we must not forget that critical thinking is basically a critical analysis of the reasoning of others. To conduct it, we must not only be able to find the main argument of another person but also be able to analyze and evaluate its details.
Any reasoning, either one’s own or another’s, consists of an analysis of the evidence and conclusions drawn from it. Evidence supports the findings. For example, you think that it’s cold outside today. You tell someone about this, but he does not agree with you, and wonders why you got this.
As proof, you can cite what temperature the thermometer shows and your own observations of the weather outside. In this case, your evidence will be ice on the ground and a low-level temperature outside.