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.

What is Philosophy?

Philosophy is a discipline that cultivates critical thinking. The philosophical project is a systematic endeavor which seeks a critical understand of all human experiences. The philosopher strives after an understanding of self, others and world through an analysis of various domains of human experience and reflection. Thus, philosophy looks for the connections between art, science, mathematics, religion, politics, and human behavior AND attempts to interpret these thoughts and experience within a holistic tableau. In sum, philosophy attempts to disclose rational meanings for the question 'What is it all about?'

What is the Northwest Critical Thinking Challenge?

The Northwest Critical Thinking Challenge is an invitation to all Northwest students to explore the horizons of their critical thinking abilities. While Northwest Missouri State University and all of its programs foster Critical Thinking, the philosophy program offers a unique format for meeting that challenge. The program will press the frontiers of your beliefs and knowledge to foster an appreciation of the connections between disciplines, culture and human experience. The program is designed to ask those questions which lure the student into the formidable task of constructing a system of beliefs which form a consistent, coherent, adequate, applicable, and communicable understanding of human life, experiences and thought.

Why be a Critical Thinker?

The world today is changing at an ever-increasing rate. Scientific and technological advances, changing political realities, the shift from an industrial-based to a service-based technological society, all have had and will continue to have a crucial impact upon our lives, personal as well as professional. The ability to thrive and prosper in this changing world depends on the ability to adapt oneself to new ways of thinking and doing things. Critical thinking is crucial to this adaptive process: it provides the means to question old assumptions and beliefs, and adopt new ones that are more adequate to the demands of the world in which we live.

Can Critical Thinking enhance my life?

Being a critical thinker enables one to lead a more enriching life through the examination of one's own beliefs and practices, and those of others. This examination maximizes one's freedom to make responsible choices with respect to those beliefs and practices. It further enables one to envision paradigms of thinking and action which stimulate continual intellectual, moral, and personal growth. Being a critical thinker is a commitment to continuous life-long learning.

Can being a Critical Thinker enhance my employment prospects?

Employers from all sectors of the economy--industry, commerce, service and government--are seeking persons whose critical thinking skills are finely tuned. The current economic realities are such that an individual entering the job market will make major changes in employment multiple times during their working career. Most employers are seeking new hires which exhibit the diversity and flexibility that this mobile market requires. The development of critical thinking skills more readily enables an individual to make these transitions.

Return to Table of Contents.

© Copyright by The Department of History, Humanities, and Philosophy 1996

DISCLAIMER OF LIABILITY: The individual to whom this page pertains is solely responsible for the information, content or materials contained in it. Because Northwest Missouri State University has no involvement in managing the content of this page, Northwest will not be liable for any damages of any kind arising from the use of it, including, but not limited to direct, indirect, incidental, punitive, and consequential damages.