The intellectual roots of critical thinking date back to the Greek philosophers.
Socrates discovered, by means of probing questions, that in the exchange of competing ideas, people sometimes make confident claims based on unreliable assumptions or failed logic.
Such arguments, he discovered, were either erroneous in fact, absent sufficient foundation, or failing in logic. Instead, most arguments were based on confused meanings, inadequate evidence, or contradictory beliefs.
Socrates' contributions to critical thinking were many -- for he established new ways to think about contentious issues in terms of the quality of assumptions, facts and logic.
Thus Socrates demonstrated that persons may have passion, or power or high position but yet be deeply confused and irrational.
Good journalism, like compelling debate, is based on a clear understanding of facts and the logical construction of one's argument. And that is what the Socratic Method and The Sophist Tradition is all about.
The Socratic Method is the preferred way to examine issues.
In the Socratic mode of questioning, postulations, ideas or arguments are examined for their clarity and logical consistency by systematic analysis of facts, assumptions and logical methodology to support a conclusion.
Socratic analysis is accomplished by means of a series of probing questions that systematically examine the quality of an argument or conclusion.
Understanding the quality of information, argument or one's conclusions, is fundamental to critical thinking -- and the goal of critical editing.
Socrates’ practice was followed by the critical thinking of Plato (who recorded Socrates’ thought), Aristotle, and the Greek skeptics, all of whom emphasized that things are often very different from what they appear to be.
Only the trained mind is prepared to see through the way things look to us on the surface (delusive appearances) to the way they really are beneath the surface (the deeper realities of life.)
From this ancient Greek tradition emerged the need, for anyone who aspired to understand the deeper realities, to think systematically, to trace implications broadly and deeply; for only thinking that is comprehensive, well-reasoned, and responsive to objections can take us beyond the surface.
Means Of Analysis
The common denominators of Critical Thinking requires, for example, the systematic monitoring of thought; that thinking, to be critical, must not be accepted at face value, but must be analyzed and assessed for its clarity, accuracy, relevance, depth, breadth, and logical validity. All reasoning occurs within points of view and frames of reference.
All reasoning proceeds from some goals, objectives, and has an informational base. All data, when used in reasoning, must be interpreted. That interpretation involves concepts, that concepts entail assumptions, and that all basic inferences in thought have implications, and each of these dimensions of thinking need to be monitored where problems of thinking can occur.
The result of the collective contribution of the history of critical thought is that the basic questions of Socrates can now be much more powerfully and focally framed.
In every domain of human thought, and within every use of reasoning within any domain, it is now possible to question:
• ends and objectives
• the status and wording of questions
• the sources of information and fact
• the method and quality of information collection
• the mode of judgment and reasoning used
• the concepts that make that reasoning possible
• the assumptions that underlie concepts in use
• the implications that follow from their use
• the point of view or frame of reference within which reasoning takes place
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Published: Monday December 24, 2012 6:00 pm EDT
American Experience Section
Article Length: 519 Words
Reading Time: 2 Minutes
Pagan Roots – Religious Foundations – Commercial Appeal
Christmas In America
Today the world celebrates Christmas. For many, the commercial kerfuffle surrounding modern Christmas traditions seem out of step with the holiday’s deep religious foundations.
Christmas day, December 25 has been a federal holiday in the United States since 1870.
Christmas had its origin in a pagan winter solstice festival, which the church co-opted to promote the new religion. Many of the old pagan customs crept into the Christian celebration. Emperor Aurelian tried to initiate a holiday known as The Birth of the Unconquered Sun, on Dec. 25, 274.
Today we know that Aurelian’s winter solstice festival was instituted well after Christians had already been associating that day with the birth of Christ. Aurelian’s festival, marking the time of year when the length of daylight began to increase, was intended to breathe life into paganism.
Then Came St. Nicholas
The Puritans didn’t believe excessive celebration was appropriate. However, by the mid 1800’s the newer immigrant settlers had brought many of their holiday rituals and traditions with them. The celebration of Christmas took hold.
One of those traditions was celebrating Saint Nicholas’ birthday, December 6th. This is the day when Old Saint Nick would ride his white horse down from Heaven and fill good children’s shoes with gifts “to prepare their hearts for the coming of the Christ Child.” Over the years, Saint Nicholas’ visit migrated to Christmas Eve and his name changed to Santa Claus.
So, whether you are celebrating the birth of The Christ, or pagan lust, or the riches of affluence — Christmas is a time of joy, family and sharing.
May All Your Christmases Be White.
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