The Relationship of Critical Thinking to Other Modes of Thinking
For more than a century, books and academic essays have been published on the various types of thinking. Psychologist John Dewey was one of the first to offer his view, which in 1910 he called Reflective Thinking. Adjectives he used to describe it were: active, persistent and careful.
In an earlier article "How to Be a Critical Thinker" I shared my definition of Critical Thinking.
“Actively exercising your mind in a positive way to form interconnected ideas and understandings.” - R.V. Michaels
The article broke down the definition into three parts and the first part is about actively exercising your mind. To do that effectively you need to embrace and use a variety of other types of thinking. In other words, I don't believe Critical Thinking is a separate field of thinking.
I define critical thinking as an encompassing domain of thinking types that you access and use during your reflective investigation of an issue.
The thinking modes I consider important to use during a Critical Thinking process are:
a structured and logical view focused on provable outcomes
a longer-term view that considers outside influences
a search for interrelationships among the issues
intuitive ways of feeling, believing and knowing
discovering dynamic and unknown possibilities
These five thinking methods bring with them a variety of tools and techniques that are beneficial in Critical Thinking, because they force us to look at a given situation from different viewpoints.
Considering differing viewpoints is important because when left to our own devices, most us will choose only one view, and that is not thinking critically.
In later articles I will discuss each mode of thinking in more detail. I will also provide you with some recommendations on thinking tools you can use.
Being a successful thinker involves not only accumulating a bank of thinking skills; it involves using these abilities to make good decisions, to empathize with viewpoints other than our own, and overall to behave responsibly. Why is that important?
Because behavior is the physical manifestation of our thoughts!