Monday, March 30, 2015

Critical thinking vs. debate

Critical thinking, like systems thinking, allows for more expansive thinking.

Critical thinking is the mental process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to reach an answer or conclusion; while the debate is a discussion, as of a public question in an assembly, involving opposing viewpoints ( Critical thinking vs. debate: how to leverage them in decision making and culture shaping?

Debating is a style of critical thinking activity: In order to win the debate, you would need to know more about your opponent and you would need to plan tactics and strategies to win the debate which would require applied critical thinking in order to discover and execute these things. Similarly “performance reviews” are a style of critical thinking activity or “risk assessments” are a style of critical thinking activity. Critical thinking is a basic form of organized thought specifically used to discover concrete solutions or implement concrete actions. Whether it is a debate, argument, interview, investigation or chess game, critical thinking will apply. The debate, when used properly, can be a way to explore critical thinking from a non-biased perspective.

Critical thinking, like systems thinking, allows for more expansive thinking: Because we "steer away from falsehoods," question individual, collective, social assumptions and reframe the inquiry. There are two sides to this, at least in terms of our basic epistemic goals. One is getting to the truth, the other is avoiding falsehood. So critical thinking is associated with the metacognitive disciplines that steer one away from believing falsehoods, more so than steering one toward the truth. The latter is more associated with the special sciences - physics, mathematics, philosophy, etc. The debate is a critical thinking activity which helps to build the culture of openness. We all bring our own biases and judgment to arguments. Having a debate where people are forced to uphold a view or belief that isn't necessarily their own, forces some critical thinking principles - increased perspective, less prejudgment and looking at another belief from a little less emotional perspective.
Critical thinking, logic, empathy, emotions etc are all properties of the mind: Truth brings us together and starts with the ‘mind’ existing in space and time separated from all the other minds, which we think are there and interact with us every day. In every respect, our experiences, consciousness, social interactions are merely properties of the mind we use or are comprised of. Critical thinking, logic, empathy, emotions etc are all properties of the mind, therefore, is largely based on human social interaction, science, and philosophy, and is always under the umbrella of relativity- a mind cannot decide something is absolutely true because it is relative by nature. That is a philosophical problem. It is all relative to the observer, there are no absolute objective truths because the decision would be made from a relative place ‘THE MIND.”

Some say the difference between debating and critical thinking is that the whole purpose of debate is to win it, the purpose of critical thinking is to get to a better understanding of things. Still, the mantra of debating is to “winning with purpose."

The principle of critical thinking is correlated with the purpose of education: “education is not the learning of fact, but the training of the mind to think.” (Einstein)


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