Acts of the Mind
According to St. Thomas the first thing that falls in the intellect is being. Nevertheless, this statement can be viewed as angelism since it asserts that human knowledge has its ultimate perfection from the start. His works further show that he has a strong conviction that intellect can neither be known nor understood without some imagined thing. This argument is best illustrated by Bergson who stated, “Our intellect, as it issues from nature, has for its object in the undifferentiated solid.” The term solid is not taken as Euclidean abstraction, but as a mass of matter with some reality or another. Therefore in the context of the above phrase the solid is not viewed be distinctly unit and the term undifferentiated is taken in its broadest sense.
The first act done on the undifferentiated solid is to establish that “this thing is not that.” This point can be termed as the moment when our intellect visualizes the concept of “thing and other.” “Thing” emerges from the point the undifferentiated solid is viewed limited while “other” immediately it accepts of opposition. In the second act, “thing” and “other” are considered in general terms as relative designations, for instance “this” and “that”. This simply means that one individual’s thing is another’s other.
During the third stage, the subsequent sub division of the undifferentiated solid into thing and other warrants the assumption that “thing” and “other” is one by means of negating the differences. “One” is divided, and represents the negation of this division.
Critical thinking can be defined as the intellectual process of skillfully conceptualizing, applying, synthesizing and evaluating information obtained through reasoning, reflection, communication, observation or experience. It is guided by universal intellectual norms that transcend subject matter differences: accuracy, relevance, sound evidence, good reason, fairness, precision, consistency and depth. In general, it involves self-discipline, self-guidance and self-motivation aimed at achieving high standards of excellence and proper use of the same.
It involves a through examination of all elements involved in our reasoning and moral judgments. In essence, moral judgments and convictions arise from our pre-reflective understanding of values and are nurtured by our caring attitude and by critical reflection. Sensitivity in moral reflection allows us to cherish moral judgments hence avoid being hardened by our experiences. Moral sensitivity breeds reflection that transcends over all facets of our existence, primarily our affective experiences that have developed an awareness of main values and commitment. One school of thought that supports this argument is critical realism that suggests that experience is the beginning of knowledge.
Critical thinking is influenced by the motivation behind it. When established in self-centered motives, it’s often intended to manipulate ideas and systems to serve ones vested interests. Under such conditions, it is usually intellectually flawed irrespective of its success. When it’s based on fairness and integrity, it is of a higher intellectual ranking but subject to the charge of idealism.
Critical thinking entails man’s endeavor to achieve excellence in reasoning and thought, however, it varies from one individual to the next. This is attributed to the fact that we are all fall prey to our own egocentric and socioeconomic tendencies. In essence, no one is a full critical thinker and we ought to engage ourselves in series of self-improvement. It is for this reason that mastering of critical thing skills is a lifetime obligation.