The Multifaceted Nature of Critical Thinking
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Due to the multifaceted nature of critical thinking, it has been defined in a number of ways. As such, critical thinking is a powerful resource in an individual’s civil and personal life as well as a liberating force in education. Although CT is not synonymous with good thinking, it is a self-rectifying and pervasive human phenomenon (Fischer 6). By definition, critical thinking is that type of thinking, about any problem, content, or subject in which the thinker aims at improving the quality of his thinking by taking control of the structures needed in thinking and imposing intellectual standards on them. Based on this definition, a critical thinker must be trustful of reason, alert in inquiry and clear about issues, habitually inquisitive, persistent in seeking results and orderly in multifaceted issues.
John Stuart Mill is arguably one of the most critical thinkers of the twenty-first century. Born in London in 1806, he made major contributions, not in philosophy, but also in other fields as well. Over the course of his career, Mill contributed to different subjects including economics, politics, education, and popular science. His contribution in these subjects has impacted generations and generations of readers. This fact makes him a great thinker because he was able to improve the quality of his thinking, which was initially inclined to philosophy by imposing intellectual standards from different subjects.
Mill’s critical thinking manifests itself through his literary works. He is better known for his attempts to show that economics was not the supposed “dismal science” that literary and radical critics had led people to believe. Through critical thinking, Mill was able to create the distinction between what human beings really valued and what economics measured. According to Mills, the environment was more important that economic growth. Therefore, he held that human beings should do more in conserving the environment, rather than working hard for economic development. Moreover, Mill was of the opinion that human beings should limit population so that they can have enough space for producing food to mitigate the risks of starvation, especially to the overburdened poor.
Mill’s critical essay On Liberty also shows why he is considered a critical thinker of the twenty-first century. This is because Mill expresses his violent approval and disapproval of various societal issues. In this essay, Mill puts it blatantly that authorities should limit the use of coercion in society. By coercion, Mill means limiting the coercion of both the operations of public opinion and legal penalties. It is imperative to understand that this essay was not only aimed at authorities, but to individuals as well. Mill argues that individuals are at liberty to coerce others in self defense, either to defend themselves or defending others from harm’s way. As the discourse above reveals, Mill was a critical thinker because he was able to identify a problem that many people before him, including philosophers were unable to discover. He also discovered that Americans, especially from the middle-class did not care about the liberty of others. Therefore, he uses this essay to enlighten people on the importance of liberty. As a result, people were able to discover what was good for themselves and for others, thus the society was transformed through his advice.
Critical thinking is an old tradition that is still developing. Unlike the kind of thinking that occurs when someone arrives at conclusions or accepts claims, decisions and evidence at face value without thinking about it, CT compels one to meet stringent intellectual standards like those of coherence, relevance and adequacy (Fischer 7). Furthermore, it requires a clear evaluation and interpretation of communication and other sources of communication before making any decisions. Thereof, a critical thinker is that person who understands that there are many situations that require reflective and reasoned thinking before deciding what to and what not to believe.