While I can actually say that this idea has been with me for a year now, it has been especially prominent since yesterday afternoon. During the first Political Science lecture/discussion the question “What is critical thinking?” came up. A few people answered, including myself. My response was “the ability to think deeply for yourself without using the ideas or opinions of other people.” My professor was pleased and continued on to talk about Immanuel Kant. In case you do not know who Kant is, go here: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kant/
One of the various phrases that Kant is remembered for is: “Sapere Aude! Have the courage to use your own intelligence!” While this translation may or may not be 100% accurate-it has the same idea, generally. Think for yourself!
This thought process has continued on as the day has passed by a little because I noticed a spike in visitors on this blog-specifically on my essays from my critical thinking class. Since school just started this week and my mentor has switched to hybrid classes, I have a small hunch as to why. Or maybe not…who knows! However: If you google the first line of my essay or the issue she gives the class, my blog post will be the first result.
I do not put it past students to use my work as their own.
This is just really sad, in my opinion. The lack of critical thinking in our society is literally the reason we have such a decay in education, economics, ethical issues and the list goes on. A minority of people think for themselves. Furthermore, few people use their conscience to make choices for the good of humanity. We do this thing where we think YOLO and “I before We.” If we aren’t sure about a social issue, we google opinions. WHAT IS THAT? We google opinions? We have all become automatons. I don’t understand it.
Critical thinking has long been something we, as humans, can do. And by long I mean maybe, oh, forever? The issue is – it’s hard to think for ourselves and because this generation is all about “ease of access,”anything hard isn’t worth working at. However, struggle is crucial to true understanding. In fact, did you know that without struggle you rarely gain the ability to learn something to its capacity or even at all? Every day we gain new neurons, it’s true – but to truly understand something we have to struggle with it, make mistakes, maybe even fail before we come to an enlightened state of being within that idea. This takes work.
Work? Oh boy, I know that word is taxing for much of this generation. I won’t go on that rant again, since I’ve already shared my opinions on the “here and now generation” we are living with.
Another issue that goes along with this weak mindset is that people often cannot make a decision about an idea, meaning they cannot agree with it, so then they conclude that since they do not agree with the idea/opinion that they cannot possibly entertain the idea behind the issue. However, it is the Greek philosopher, Aristotle who says, “It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” I love this quote because I feel as though we live in a society where simply talking about something, or even having a “healthy argument” is just unheard of. What seems to happen is people become offended either by what they read or by the opinion of another and instead of forming their own opinions and sharing them, they turn to attacking the person who openly shared their opinion without meaning to start a fight. This leads nowhere. No one learns anything valuable from throwing insults at each other.
So, instead of using the opinions of others, giving up, or fighting over the in’s and out’s, what do we do in order to find the answers we need for pretty much anything? It really is easier than one might think…..Critically Think: Struggle. Make mistakes. Fail a bit. Try again. Struggle some more and don’t stop struggling until you finally say “ah ha! Now I understand.”