Critical Thinking

1. Intellectual humility belongs to intellectual virtues and may be viewed as a state of being conscious of the limits of one’s knowledge (Paul & Elder, 2014). Moreover, intellectual humility is critically important to the higher level of critical thinking and exclusion of biases, prejudices, discrimination, and generalizations (Paul & Elder, 2014). It promotes the idea that people should not claim to know more than they really do. On the contrary, intellectual arrogance is directly linked to lack of knowledge (Paul & Elder, 2014). I know from my own experience that intellectually arrogant individuals often judge behavior and actions of other people not knowing the truth. For instance, intellectually arrogant employees often assume that they are smarter than their fellow colleagues. On the contrary, those individuals who have intellectual humility know that they should not judge other people. In fact, intellectual humility is typical of fair-minded thinkers who do not have any misconceptions or prejudices and do not make false assumptions (Paul & Elder, 2014).

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People often feel the need for intellectual courage in order to be confident about their own thinking. In fact, intellectual courage is associated with the ability to objectively assess and properly address ideas, estimations, and viewpoints that contribute to the development of negative emotions (Paul & Elder, 2014). Intellectual courage is essential for people because it influences their personal and professional lives. For instance, people should always be able to rely on their intellectual courage to analyze the ethics of their decisions at work and explain their inappropriate behavior that affects their co-workers. On the contrary, intellectual cowardice is associated with the fear of ideas and viewpoints that do not correspond to one’s own estimations and claims (Paul & Elder, 2014). For example, those employees who lack intellectual courage are afraid to vote for a new leader because they view these changes as dangerous and threatening.

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2. The term “critical thinking” may be defined as a “self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking” that contributes to effective communication among people and develops effective problem-solving skills (Paul & Elder, 2014, p. 4). The role of critical thinking is fundamental because it prevents people from biased, false, distorted, or generalized thoughts, ideas, and decisions. It is believed that a critical thinker with well-cultivated skills always formulates questions clearly, avoids biases and discrimination, objectively assesses relevant information, relies on effective and direct communication to find the best solutions to challenging situations, and tries to be open-minded (Paul & Elder, 2014).

However, most people are not effective critical thinkers, thus are not able to come to well-reasoned conclusions and perfect solutions. The natural way of thinking often significantly differs from the logic that involves analyzing, assessing, and thinking creatively. On the contrary, many people are passive thinkers who accept everything as true without analyzing and interpreting the facts (Paul & Elder, 2014). Passive thinking excludes asking questions, doubting, and analyzing available information. It may be described as unimaginative, lazy, limited, and impoverished type of thinking that has a negative impact on personal and professional lives of people (Paul & Elder, 2014).

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Thus, in order to improve their critical thinking skills, people should accurately and objectively define existing problems, analyze their causes and consequences, choose and evaluate possible options, and make the most effective decisions that exclude biases and generalizations. On the whole, these means help to develop critical thinking skills, which are of utmost importance in personal and professional lives. Critical thinking is an intellectual process of actively and objectively interpreting and synthesizing available information that involves open and direct communication, reasoning, and reflection, which are integral parts of the effective mental processes.

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