Most of us are not trained to think critically. We are taught to read, write, and do arithmetic in grade school and these are necessary for thinking in a critical way. But they do not themselves constitute critical thinking. In middle school and high school, we are taught a fair number of facts and, if we do a lot of math and science, some methods of thinking. But cramming our heads full of facts is not an education in how to think logically, much less an education in critical thinking. Rather, having a lot of facts in our heads provides us with the material that is thought about either clearly or unclearly, either logically or illogically, either critically or uncritically. We are also taught about expressing ourselves in writing. However, expressing ourselves is consistent with expressing ourselves in an illogical and disorderly manner, and the sad truth is that many of us express ourselves in an illogical and disorderly manner.

While we cannot engage in critical thinking without being able to think in an orderly manner, orderly thinking is not in itself all there is to critical thinking. After all, we can think in an orderly manner and do so without being the least bit critical. A person who can recite the rules and regulations of Robert’s Rules of Order is thinking in an orderly way without being at all critical. So, just as critical thinking is more than deliberation and more than reflection, so too is it more than orderly thinking. To get from orderly thinking to critical thinking we must add, as the definition of critical thinking above suggests, the ability to recognize, classify, analyze and construct arguments. That is what critical thinking is. Since most of us have never engaged in this kind of thinking, we need to study what it is.

This course utilizes the only complete system of classical Aristotelian logic text in print: Socratic Logic: Socratic Method, Platonic Questions, and Aristotelian Principles. The “old logic” is still the natural logic of the four language arts (reading, writing, speaking, and listening). Its exercises expose students to many classical quotations, and additional chapters introduce philosophical issues in a Socratic (focused conversational inquiring) manner and from a commonsense, realistic point of view. This course is aimed, not only at building a strong foundation in logic, but at learning how to apply logic through critical thinking: the cognitive ability to recognize, classify, analyze, and construct arguments. The appropriate goal is not to become an argumentative bully; it is, rather, to combine critical thinking abilities with compassion, kindness, and reflection in a way that is beneficial to ourselves, our intimates, and all those with whom we come in contact. ORDER NOW