As individuals, we are defined by thinking, and how we make choices is determined by our patterns of thinking and knowledge. We can develop standards for our thinking by using critical thinking. This will heighten the quality of thought. As Kirby points out, “the more we know and the better we can think with our knowledge, the more successful we are likely to be” (2007).
Critical thinking cannot be understood or defined without first examining the act of thinking itself. Surprisingly, even the greatest scientists in the world have difficulty truly understanding the thought processes of the human brain. “What goes on in your head when you have a thought ... the answer must still be: we do not really know,” said author Gerald Edelman and Nobel laureate at the commencement of this millennium. We know a good deal about neuroelectrochemical processes and parts of the brain, but we still have so much to learn. We have greater knowledge of the universe’s basic principles, of our bodies, and of atoms than we do of the workings of our brains (Richard Paul, 2006). If we are unable to explain thinking in a physical sense, we are able to define it more easily as one of the brain’s activities that can possibly be communicated.
Our mental processes improve in quality thanks to critical thinking. As a result our capability of creating and effectively communicating our thoughts is also improved. A concept so complex and rich is difficult to boil down into a basic definition. To be concise, the skill of refining one’s thought process using analysis, evaluation, and improvement is critical thinking. Most people think critically only rarely, because the skill is learned: the desire and ability to evaluate one’s thoughts have to be taught. Most people unconsciously think without analyzing or reasoning.
People who think critically have a good deal in common. Their goal of applying conceptualization and reason to their thoughts is their effort to avoid being ruled mentally by...