Critical Thinking

Manila Bulletin, September 20, 2013 | Go to article overview

Critical Thinking


Diverse products, services, knowledge, technologies, and what have you, readily catch a person's sight everywhere, much more, in key cities of any country. Coming to people voluminously, these goods, especially those from China, flood any space a business minded person could consider an appropriate place for displaying his commodities. Some of these items form a system or network of interlocking options, such that a prospective buyer, before handing his or her payment to the seller, has to murmur this famous Hallidayan-grammar line, "either this or that or the other, or either more like the one or more like the other one, and so on." Given a limited span of time, the buyer has to choose which he thinks is the best to equal the worth or value of his money. How does a person come out with the best judgement or choice about people, ideas, or anything in this world? Critical thinking is the answer to this question.

What is critical thinking? The word critical comes from the Latin term, "krinein," which means to discern or discriminate. To think critically is to evaluate, assess, or determine the value or quality of something by defining, analyzing, describing, or comparing-contrasting the features or aspects, the pluses and minuses of the object of criticism on the basis of some criteria like moral perceptions, educational principles, professional standards, ethical principles among others. Basing on his personal knowledge that he has to merge with other people's knowledge about the object, he decides on the validity or quality of the object. But these two criteria, personal knowledge and other people's ideas are not enough as the basis of good judgement. All facts, ideas, or reasons to support any decision or judgement derive their validity, value, appropriateness, or acceptability from socially, culturally, institutionally, and ideologically determined knowledge.

Central to critical thinking is determining the worth or value of something through one's performance of higher-order thinking strategies of speculating, analyzing, defining, describing, comparing, contrasting, and so on. Some think that invoking the thinker's personal knowledge or independent thinking about the object of criticism is promoting egocentrism; on the other hand, giving importance to people's ideas is stressing socio-centrism. This is not so, in the real sense of this expression, critical thinking, because this evaluative kind of thinking operates to strike a balance between egocentrism and socio-centrism. …

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