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Successful People Don’t Just Listen to What People Tell Them, They Have These 7 Critical Thinking Habits

Successful People Don’t Just Listen to What People Tell Them, They Have These 7 Critical Thinking Habits

Ever been stuck with trying to get to a solution, but not getting anywhere? If you nod affirmatively, you may be lacking in critical thinking. What you have to remember about critical thinking though, is that you will not get from 0 to 100 in just a second. There are many skills that you need to learn and understand before you can get to use your brain this way : you inquire into and enquire about all the facets of a problem, before actually getting to solve it, keeping your “judgment” well out of the way.

Why Is Critical Thinking So Hard To Achieve?

The toughest thing about critical thinking is the fact that you need to suspend your judgment while you do so, keeping your very open to the thought that the belief you have about something, can in the next instant, proven to be wrong or incorrect. Also, as a critical thinker, you are in a way deviating from the norm, which means all the things that your peers believe and even want you to believe, can, in fact, be incorrect. The very basis of critical thinking is an almost continuous back and forth between making theories or beliefs, and then trying to accept or eliminate what works and what doesn’t. [1]

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Are You On The Right Path To Critical Thinking?

Despite the difficulty of critical thinking, it is becoming more and more of a valued tool in the professional field – perhaps because there is a dearth of critical thinkers. So to see whether you are the next best thing since sliced bread when it comes to critical thinking, you should try to take The California Critical Thinking Disposition Inventory – a psychological test that can be used to measure whether people are disposed to think critically or not, by measuring seven different thinking habits, or essential skills. [2]

  1. Truth-seeking: Are you a flame carrier for truth, and nothing but? Do you try and understand how things actually are instead of believing hearsay?
  2. Open-mindedness: Is new information acceptable, good or just bad to you? Do you give new ideas, even if they “sound” weird or wrong, a fair chance? Or are you closed to modernity?
  3. Analyticity: Do you try and find and understand the reasons behind things? Are your decisions gut-based or do they have pros and cons behind them?
  4. Systematicity: Are you orderly in your approach of problem-solving? Do you break down a problem into parts and then tackle them one by one?
  5. Confidence in Reasoning: Do you always defer to other people or is your own belief more important to you? Are you confident in your own judgment and do you think that you have reasons for your confidence? Do you like to evaluate your own thinking?
  6. Inquisitiveness: Do you question, and question often? Are you full of curiosity?
  7. The Maturity of Judgment: Do you take time in reaching a conclusion or do you jump to conclusions? Do you try and analyze things from different perspectives and take other people’s experiences into account, instead of just valuing yourself above it all?

So the essential skills needed in critical thinking are analyzing, applying the standards, classifying, seeking further information, logical deduction, predictions and finally and most importantly: “transforming” the conclusions into knowledge. [3]

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The Tools Used In Critical Thinking

Frankly, critical thinking is basically a series of tos and fros between theories or beliefs and their elimination or acceptance. From the birth of a belief to its eventual binning or acceptance, there are many a tool one can use that keep the judgment suspended till the scales of justice, science and logic list on one side.

  • A Sound Argument: Much like a pros and cons list, an argument is when we present a list of whys and why nots for a belief and then reach a sound conclusion: the statement about what should be done or believed. Arguments, however, need to be proven.
  • Deductive Reasoning: Deductive reasoning often follows a set of conclusions after a sound argument; you can then, following logic, “deduce” what those conclusions now state in their entirety. Sometimes though, deductive reasoning is unable to prove something by mere logic.
  • Inductive Reasoning: So when arguments and deductive reasoning refuse to provide a solution, this is where inductive reasoning steps in. Starting with eliminative and enumerative reasoning and then moving onto abductive reasoning: a logical happening that happens by “chance” but basically can be traced back to the very problem we are trying to solve. Not quite gut, but somewhere close.

How To Put Critical Thinking To Use

What have been stated above are beliefs. Now for you to put critical thinking to use, you need to internalize and channelize these theoretical principles and apply them to your daily thought processes. Be unafraid – state your opinions, ask your questions, admit to being wrong, own up to thinking that you are right, be ready to be questioned in return and lastly: know that your belief system is not infallible.

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Once you start to apply critical thinking, you may end up discovering that what you believed in is actually a falsification. Chin up, cheer up and be critical. The ultimate goal or aim of critical thinking is not to break something but to build something even more awesome in place. [4]

Don’t be wary of being in the wrong. If all the great minds thought like that and refused to question their own theories or the one of the greats before them, the world would still be thought of as flat, with the sun revolving around it…

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Featured photo credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jdlasica/8137944472/in/photolist-dp86ns-daCddA-daCdqW-dp7W7p-daCdcJ-daCahn-fPZ51a-7VmKUi-daCanc-daCasM-5A1b59-5AC41U-dp7Wi2-6iDT9c-59YrP5-5sTzRQ-7unjGA-7uirSx-54ZKPQ-EixX1V-Du4fYm-RJXHou-Eiy2gP-DZEA9h-Du4kZU-87VWBH-QRzUB3-8hUVRV-aksfAD-5WbiCG-bWsMy5-es2SBd-5A1b5U-7NthYi-4yjxQV-DPEZpp-59Ys6o-9bEq8v-QfdyK-5RizKx-4z24FY-4yWKu6-d9XJSe-4z23Pm-4yWLqX-8QuTjg-bBnnBF-ggBEsp-4x7MLg-4xBaCk via flickr.com

Reference

[1] Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: Critical Thinking
[2] Insight Assessment: CCTDI
[3] University of Michigan: Critical Thinking Skills
[4] University of Hong Kong: Improving Critical Thinking

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Published on October 30, 2020

11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

11 Essential Philosophy Books That Will Open Your Mind

There are numerous ways to build your mindset, but none are as profound as reading philosophy books. Through these books, some of the greatest minds around ask questions and delve deep into thought.

While there isn’t always a clear and distinct answer to the many questions of philosophy, the entire field is a gateway to a higher sense of self. It gets you to think about all manner of things.

Below, we cover some of the essential philosophy books that are best for those who are just starting or looking to expand their mind.

How To Choose a Good Philosophy Book

Before getting to this list, we’ve researched ideal philosophy books to help you expand your mind.

We’ve found that the best philosophy books excel in the following criteria:

  • Complexity – Philosophy isn’t a subject that you can’t dive into immediately and understand everything. The books that we selected are great for people making the first leap.
  • Viewpoint – With philosophy, in particular, the author’s views are more important than in your standard book. We want to ensure the viewpoints and thoughts being discussed still hold up to this day.
  • Open-mindedness – Philosophy is all about asking perplexing questions and unraveling the answer. You might not reach a conclusion in the end, but these books are designed to get you to think.
  • Culture – The last criterion is culture. A lot of these books come from early philosophers from centuries ago or possibly from recent years. These philosophy books should paint a picture of the culture.

1. Meditations

    One that you’ll find on many of these types of lists is Meditations and for good reason. It’s the only document of its kind to ever be made. The book focuses on the private thoughts of the world’s most powerful man who advises himself revolving around making good on his responsibilities and the obligations of his position.

    We know enough about Marcus Aurelius to know that he was trained in stoic philosophy and practiced every night on a series of spirituality exercises. These exercises were designed to make him humble, patient, empathetic, generous, and strong in the face of whatever problem he had to face off. And he faced plenty of problems since he was basically the emperor of roughly a third of the planet.

    All of that is poured into this book, and you are bound to remember a line or more that will be applicable in your life. It’s a philosophy book staple.

    Buy Meditations here.

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    2. Letters From a Stoic

      Similar to Marcus Aurelius, Seneca was another powerful man in Rome. He was a brilliant writer at the time and was the kind of guy to give great advice to his most trusted friends. Fortunately, much of his advice comes in letters, and those letters happen to be in this book. The letters themselves provided advice on dealing with grief, wealth, poverty, success, failure, education, and more.

      While Seneca was a stoic, he has a more practical approach and has borrowed from other schools of thought for his advice. As he said when he was alive, “I don’t care about the author if the line is good.” Similar to Meditations, there are several brilliant lines and advice that are still relevant to this day.

      Buy “Letters From a Stoic” here.

      3. Nicomachean Ethics

        Aristotle was a famous Greek philosopher at the time with profound knowledge. He’s named after a form of logic as well called Aristotelian logic. Through this book, Aristotle writes about the root of all Aristotelian ethics. In other words, this book contains the moral ideas that form a base for pretty much all of western civilization.

        Buy “Nicomachean Ethics” here.

        4. Beyond Good & Evil

          Friedrich Nietzsche played a big role in the philosophical world. He was one of the leading philosophers of the existential movement, and it all came through this particular book. He is a brilliant mind. However, the issue with a lot of his work is that it’s all written in German.

          Fortunately, this book is one of the slightly more accessible ones since it’s translated. Within the book, he breaks down the paradoxes of conventional understandings of morality. By doing this, he sets the stage for a lot of the 20th-century thought process that followed.

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          Buy “Beyond Good & Evil” here.

          5. Meditations on First Philosophy

            In Meditations on First Philosophy, René Descartes breaks his book down into six meditations. The book takes a journalistic style that is structured much like a six-day course of meditation. On day one, he gives instructions on discarding all belief in things that are not guaranteed. After that, he tries to establish what can be known for sure. Similar to Meditations, this is a staple and influential philosophical text that you can pick up.

            Buy “Meditations on First Philosophy” here.

            6. Ethics

              Written by Benedict de Spinoza, this came at a time during the Age of Enlightenment. Enlightenment was a movement that dominated the world of ideas in Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries and with that, many schools of thought emerged and were presented through books.

              Out of the many influential philosophy books published back then, Ethics dominated during this period as it discussed the basis of rationalism. Even though we’ve developed further beyond that, Ethics can introduce new ways of thinking from this particular school of thought.

              Buy “Ethics” here.

              7. Critique of Pure Reason

                Immanuel Kant is another great philosopher who brought together two of history’s biggest opposing schools of thought into a single book. Those schools being rational thought and empirical experiential knowledge—knowledge gained through experience.

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                In Critique of Pure Reason, Kant explores human reason and then works to establish its illusions and get down to core constituents. Overall, you can learn more about human behavior and thought processes and thus, open your mind more to how you think and process everything around you.

                Buy “Critique of Pure Reason” here.

                8. On the Genealogy of Morals

                  Another piece of work from Nietzsche that is accessible to us is On the Genealogy of Morals. According to Nietzsche, the purpose of this book is to call attention to his previous writings. That said, it does more than that so you don’t need to worry so much about reading his other books.

                  In this book, he expands on the cryptic aphorisms that he brings up in Beyond Good and Evil and offers a discussion or morality in a work that is more accessible than a lot of his previous work.

                  Buy “On the Genealogy of Morals” here.

                  9. Everything Is F*cked

                    The only book on this list that’s been written in the past few years, this book by Mark Manson aims to explain why we all need hope while also accepting that hope can often lead us to ruin too.

                    While many of the books on this list are all practical, this one is the most realistic one since not even the greatest of philosophical minds could predict things like technology, Twitter, and how our political world has shaped.

                    Manson delivers a profound book that taps into the minds of our ancestral philosophers, such as Plato, Nietzsche, and Tom Waits, and digs deep into various topics and how all of it is connected—religion and politics, our relationship with money, entertainment, and the internet.

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                    Overall, this book serves as a challenge to all of us—a challenge to be more honest with ourselves and connect with the world in a way we’ve never tried before.

                    Buy “Everything Is F*cked” here.

                    10. Reasons and Persons

                      One of the most challenging philosophy books to read on this list, Reasons and Persons will send you on quite the trip. Through a lot of painstaking logic, Derek Parfit shows us some unique perspectives on self-interest, personhood, and whether our actions are good or evil.

                      Considered by many to be an important psychological text around the 20th century, the arguments made about those topics will open your mind to a brand new way of thinking.

                      Buy “Reasons and Persons” here.

                      11. The Republic of Plato

                        Written by Plato himself, this book is the origin of political science and offers a brilliant critique of government. As you would expect, the critique is still important today. If you’re looking to understand the inner thoughts of Plato, this is one of the best books around.

                        Buy “The Republic of Plato” here.

                        Final Thoughts

                        Philosophy books take a while to digest as they provide profound knowledge and leave you with many questions. With many of these philosophy books, you need to take your time with them, and you might have to read through them a few times as well. And with every read, your mind will only expand.

                        More Books to Open Your Mind

                        Featured photo credit: Laura Chouette via unsplash.com

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