My Obstacles to Critical Thinking

My Obstacles to Critical Thinking

After a semester break, I’m back in school.  Perhaps one day I’ll finish it up!  I’m taking Philosophy 102: Critical Thinking.  I like to post some of what I write in school.  This week, I had to “write a paragraph identifying what specific obstacle to critical thinking you personally might be especially susceptible to. Explain why.”  If you’re interested, go ahead and read it and then let me know what you think.Critical thinking is defined by Reworking Reason: Lessons in Critical Thinking (Rauls, N. Mark, College of Southern Nevada, Fall 2007) as “the set of skills involved with the identification, interpretation, analysis and evaluation of language, reasoning and argumentation” (chapter 1, page 1). Since this course is designed to “look at our own use of reasoning… [and] understand the nature of various obstacles to critical thinking” (Course Syllabus, §2-COURSE DESCRIPTION & OUTCOMES, page 1), a good place to start this course would to examine what specific obstacles to critical thinking that I am susceptible to. I believe that the two greatest obstacles that I have to critical thinking are egocentrism and skepticism. I believe that the United States of America is the greatest country on earth. There is no other place that I want to live. I believe, for example, that the Lord has blessed America. I also believe that the Lord inspired the founders of our country as they wrote the Constitution. However, as a result of this egocentrism, I could find myself in a trap of not wanting to hear or learn from others who are not from my country. I might, for example, think that X is not worth my time because X is not part of the United States. It’s hard, at times, to remember that those who want nothing less than seeing the destruction of America and her citizens are sons and daughters of God. He loves them and, as the Bible says, is not a respecter of persons.(see Acts 10:34). The other major obstacle that I have in my journey to greater critical thinking is skepticism. When I trust a person or institution, I have a tendency to be less skeptical of what they (or their representatives) have to say. On the other hand, if I don’t trust a person or institution, I am very skeptical of everything they have to say. This is true regardless of it’s a political, economical, social, religious, etc, topic. For example, politically, I consider myself a conservative. When someone starts to use rhetoric of the political left, I tend to immediately disagree with whatever it is they are trying to explain. Most of the time, at the end of the conversation (and during, for that matter), I believe that I am right and they are wrong. But, as with most things, politic topics are not black and white. There are millions of shades of gray that must be considered. I believe that as I work on removing egocentrism and applying skepticism equally to those who I tend to naturally agree with and to those who I naturally disagree with, I will be better at critical thinking as, thus, better in nearly every task that I attempt.

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  1. I think this is very true for you. I’ve noticed both of these qualities in you over the years that we’ve known each other, but especially more recently. This could be a very good class for you. Who did you end up with as your teacher?

  2. I’ve heard he’s pretty good. I believe he used to be the head of that department, but that was a few years ago. How do you like his class?

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