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Thinking. The Philosophy Portal.











Thinking


What is Thinking?
Thinking is the active process by which we develop understandings of ourselves, others and our world. The process of thinking enables us to solve problems, interpret information, make sense of our feelings and attitudes, discuss important issues, establish beliefs, and work toward the completion of goals. Thinking is an essential component in our life as a human being.

What is Critical Thinking?
Critical thinking is active and purposeful thinking about how we arrive at our understandings of ourselves, others and our world and selecting those modes of thinking which are most successful in clarifying and enhancing our understanding. Critical thinking, moreover, examines the assumptions of our beliefs, the connections between our beliefs, and the consequences of beliefs to discover how our beliefs impact our understanding of ourselves, others and our world.

What are the rules of Critical Thinking?
There are five rules which critical thinkers use to examine their beliefs and understanding of themselves, others and their world. These rules or criteria are: 1) consistency--the critical thinker attempts to discover and eliminate contradictions in thinking; 2) coherency--the critical thinker attempts to connect all of the various dimensions of thinking; 3) applicability--the critical thinker attempts to ensure that the model of understanding really fits human experiences; 4) adequacy--the critical thinker attempts to ensure that the model of understanding is flexible enough to incorporate new experiences and data; 5) communicability--the critical thinker recognizes that thinking, knowing, and learning occur in a community of human beings and thereby the critical thinker attempts to ensure that the model of understanding is understandable to others.

In the United States, philosophy typically makes its formal entry into the curriculum at the college level. A growing number of high schools offer some introduction to philosophy, often in special literature courses for college bound students. In Europe and many other countries, it is much more common to find philosophy in the high school curriculum. However, philosophy prior to high school seems relatively uncommon around the world. This may suggest that serious philosophical thinking is not for pre-adolescents. Two reasons might be offered for accepting this view. First, philosophical thinking requires a level of cognitive development that, one may believe, is beyond the reach of pre-adolescents. Second, the school curriculum is already crowded; and introducing a subject like philosophy will not only distract students from what they need to learn, it may encourage them to become skeptics rather than learners. However, both of these reasons can be challenged. They will be addressed in turn.

Philosophy courses require you to think clearly and reason creatively in order to solve problems. Such critical thinking is the ultimate transferable skill, one which can deepen your understanding of your major field and enhance your skill and efficiency. Philosophy helps you learn how to learn, a crucial ability in rapidly changing fields. In developing your ability to think critically, philosophy courses can help you to develop the most fundamental of skills.

Here at UL Lafayette, all Liberal Arts majors are required to have a minor. The requirements for your minor are established by the department in which you major, so be sure to consult with your advisor when selecting a minor. Typically, the requirement is 18 hours in a field other than your major.