I would hate to be a spoil-sport on any day of the year; however, this being either the last days reading of the year 2014 or the first bit of reading for 2015 let’s enter into an agreement. So much for the too often died out “New Year’s Resolution” please as I wish all of our readers — prosperity come upon you in 2015 with all goodness and especially joy.
However I would not even have anything other than pleasant words for everyone with the exception of two gentle reminders: Let’s stop lowering the bar for human decency and acceptable behavior. The other perhaps more challenging is let’s agree to use as much critical thinking as possible for the new year.
Critical thinking is self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way. People who think critically consistently attempt to live rationally, reasonably, empathically. They are keenly aware of the inherently flawed nature of human thinking when left unchecked.
They strive to diminish the power of their egocentric and socio-centric tendencies. They use the intellectual tools that critical thinking offers – concepts and principles that enable them to analyze, assess, and improve thinking. They work diligently to develop the intellectual virtues of intellectual integrity, intellectual humility, intellectual civility, intellectual empathy, intellectual sense of justice and confidence in reason.
They realize that no matter how skilled they are as thinkers, they can always improve their reasoning abilities and they will at times fall prey to mistakes in reasoning, human irrationality, prejudices, biases, distortions, uncritically accepted social rules and taboos, self-interest, and vested interest.
They strive to improve the world in whatever ways they can and contribute to a more rational, civilized society. At the same time, they recognize the complexities often inherent in doing so. They avoid thinking simplistically about complicated issues and strive to appropriately consider the rights and needs of relevant others. They recognize the complexities in developing as thinkers, and commit themselves to life-long practice toward self-improvement. They embody the Socratic principle: The unexamined life is not worth living , because they realize that many unexamined lives together result in an uncritical, unjust, dangerous world.