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1.8. Critical Thinking


How To Invent (Almost) Anything > 1. Analytic Invention > 1.8. Critical Thinking

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Critical Thinking is a general school of thinking that goes back to Socrates, Thomas Aquinas and Descartes. Its basic tenet is to think rigorously about any given topic (and its dread enemy is sloppy thinking).

To use critical thinking, consider the clarity, accuracy, relevance, depth, breadth and rationality of any arguments. Also understand the different viewpoints that may be taken, and how each may result in a different interpretation, based on different assumptions, concepts, goals and other information.

With critical thinking, you should discover and challenge all suppositions and test all arguments and conclusions. You should thus ‘leave no stone unturned’. The inner critic that can be an enemy of a ‘soft creative type’ is the friend and mentor of the critical thinker (which is a strange paradox, as both can come up with creative and practical ideas).

Some of the questions you can ask in critical thinking include:

  • What is your objective? What are you really trying to achieve?
  • From what viewpoint are you considering the situation?
  • On what information are you basing decisions? Where did this information come from?
  • How clearly factual is the information? All of it?
  • How logically are you analysing and arguing?
  • What are the scientific bases? How soundly are they proven?
  • What concepts are you using? How valid are they?
  • What are the underlying assumptions? What are the implications of using them?

Other logical/analytic tools:

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