Critical thinking is a concept that has been developing for the last 2500 years. It is the process of competently and keenly understanding, analyzing, applying, and synthesizing information taken from experience, observation, reasoning , reflection, as a leader to action. In a characteristic form, it is rooted on general intellectual principles that exceed subject matter divisions like; precision, accuracy, clarity, good reasons, sound evidence and relevance. It comprises the investigation of the arrangements of thought seen in all thinking. Critical thinking is amalgamated in a chain of intertwined approaches of thinking which include; mathematical reasoning, moral thinking, philosophical thinking, anthropological thinking, scientific reasoning, and historical thinking. Basically, critical thinking has two components. The first component is a set of information and processing/ belief making skills. The second component is the routine of using those skills to guide actions.
Critical thinking differs according to the drive that causes it. When rooted in egotistic interests, it’s often shown in the clever manipulation of one’s concepts for vested interests. In such a situation, it is logically inconsistent though it appears practically correct. When it is rooted in fair-mindedness, it is generally of an advanced order intellectually even though it may be subject to idealism by those that are accustomed to its selfish use. We can also say that critical thinking of any type cannot be said to be universal to any individual as everyone is prone to incidents of irrational thought. This takes us further to its quality which is a matter of degree and is reliant on the depth and quality of practice in a given area of thinking. Therefore, we can say that no one is a total critical thinker. As such, one can be a critical thinker to a certain degree, with certain insights as well as blind spots and subject to certain propensities towards self-delusion. It is for this reason that the process of development of critical thinking abilities is an endeavor of a life time.
We should also understand that critical thinking is self-disciplined and guided and endeavors to reason at the utmost standard of quality and in a fair minded way. Individuals who think critically continually endeavor to live rationally, empathically and reasonably. Such individuals keep in mind the faulty nature of human thinking especially if it’s left unchecked. They struggle to surpass the power of the sociocentric and egotistic inclinations. They use tools offered by critical thinking. Such principles and concepts empower them to assess, analyze, and improve thinking. What’s more, they work hard to develop the intellectual principles of intellectual humility, civility, integrity, empathy, confidence and sense of justice in reason.
Such individuals realize that critical thinking doesn’t stop at a point no matter how skilled you are but is subject to improvements and common mistakes in biases, reasoning, prejudices, human irrationality, self-interest, vested interest and distortions. They endeavor to improve the world by whichever way they are capable and contribute to a more civilized society. More importantly, they recognize the kind of complicities they will face if they are to achieve that. They avoid thinking in unsophisticated ways about complex matters and work hard to correctly consider the needs and rights of others who have relevance to the subject in question. They appreciate the complexities in growing as thinkers and obligate themselves to a practice of improvement throughout their lives.