Here I have accumulated some of what I have found to be excellent resources on the art of thinking.
Here is a seemingly interesting paradox.
In order to achieve knowledge of the truth, we have to be comfortable with the thought that when “new” truth comes along, it stands a good chance of looking false at first. We all know of the phenomenon of every new movement being persecuted by the one preceding it. Moreover, IF I stand convinced that everything I believe is absolutely true, then any other reality has no chance of making an impression on me.
I am proceeding from the concept that truth is what I know to be factual, as opposed to what I BELIEVE to be true. Big difference IMHO. Without fixed landmarks in our logic and our thinking, we can never have psychological certainty about anything. For example, after much forensic study of empirical and near empirical data, I accept the historical reality of a Man named Jesus, His death, and His resurrection. For me, that is a fixed landmark now. Don’t get me wrong, I never DIDN’T believe otherwise, but I had just never investigated it for myself. Compare that now with the blind loyalty to their sometimes great and wise practitioners of Invincible Ignorance that many prefer, rather than thinking for themselves. Like it or not, you also have your fixed mental landmarks from which you derive much of what you believe.
So the first thing that impresses me is the need for knowledge we can support, defend, and build on. The second thing for myself flows from these questions; (1) Have I ever been wrong in what I believed? (2) Could that ever recur in the future? (3) IF I COULD be wrong in anything that I currently believe, can I identify it and if I cannot easily identify it, how can I be sure of the “truth” I now teach?? You see the problem? My honest approach to these questions, causes me to be highly aware of just how tenuous my grasp of “the truth” really is.
The first thing is to decide what for us, is “certain knowledge”. The second is to recognize that given the human propensity to view askanse any “new truth” that comes along, I am prone to deny myself access to truth by stubbornly holding to “old truth”, and thus remain captive to ignorance.
It has been said that there are three distinct areas of all possible knowledge; There is what we know that we know ( I know thatI know how to drive a car.), then there is a greater area which is where we know what we DON’T know, (I know that I cannot fly a spaceship.), and then there is an even greater area that enfolds all that which we DON’T know that we DON’T know.
Many are those who dabble in the second and third areas building pure conjecture by joining dots that can never be known to even exist, then teaching it with such assumed authority, that even highly rational listeners can be inveigled by it. Understand though, this is not lying. Lying means you know the truth but prefer to lie. This, by comparison, is pure imagination, which when combined with a clever mind and a well oiled mouth, result in many preachers and televangelists etc. By comparison, few be those indeed, who prize conviction over conjecture, and known facts over imaginary dots.
There is of necessity therefore, a need to hold the truth lightly, and extend a gracious ear to all concepts.
How to think, not what to think – Jesse Richardson – TEDxBrisbane
Do you like to think clearly? You might be surprised how many times a day you hear claims and statements that appear to be sound, but are nothing more than a smokescreen for given agendas and a web for the unwary. Here are some sites that deal in logic fallacies, or if you prefer, stinking thinking.
Freshmen and seniors at about 200 colleges across the U.S. take a little-known test every year to measure how much better they get at learning to think. The results are discouraging.
At more than half of schools, at least a third of seniors were unable to make a cohesive argument, assess the quality of evidence in a document or interpret data in a table, The Wall Street Journal found after reviewing the latest results from dozens of public colleges and universities that gave the exam between 2013 and 2016. (See full results.)
At some of the most prestigious flagship universities, test results indicate the average graduate shows little or no improvement in critical thinking over four years.
Some of the biggest gains occur at smaller colleges where students are less accomplished at arrival but soak up a rigorous, interdisciplinary curriculum.
For prospective students and their parents looking to pick a college, it is almost impossible to figure out which schools help students learn critical thinking, because full results of the standardized test, called the College Learning Assessment Plus, or CLA+, are seldom disclosed to the public. This is true, too, of similar tests.
Whether you practice law or not, Irving Younger’s 10 commandments of Cross Examination, are absolutely fascinating.
6 Questions About Thinking Logically.
I found this several years ago. It is from the pen of Dr. Daniel Amen, and has helped me in my quest for distinguishing truth from untruth. When I apply these questions to something I am contemplating, it becomes much simpler to sort out my thoughts.
(1) Is this thought true?
(2) Can I absolutely KNOW that this thought is true?
(3) How do I feel when I believe this thought?
(4) Who / What / How would I be without this thought.
Then I force myself to turn the idea around – stand it on its head, by asking myself…
(5) What would be the opposite thought to this one?
(6) Could this new thought be as true or even truer than my current thought?
“Philosophy is the art of asking questions that come naturally to children using methods that come naturally to lawyers.” ~ Philosophy Professor, David Hills
Aristotle is alleged to have said, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”.
To entertain a thought without accepting it, means to think of an idea and the person holding that idea to be separate things. It also means acknowledging that a person may hold different ideas at different times, that a person is not permanently tied to ideas. Furthermore, a person does not need a specific motivation to hold an idea.
One of the cruelest tricks of the mind, is the inability to separate the message from the messenger.
Here’s a very simple thought experiment. I say something with which you fully agree. Some time later, I turn out to be a mass murderer. Suppose during that time, you did not change one bit. Now, do you suddenly have second thoughts with previously agreeing with me? If the answer has any trace of a “yes”, then you have some trouble separating the message from the messenger.
This phenomenon is a huge gateway for misunderstanding. Some even claim, it to be the root cause of almost all social problems.