Is Arguing Critical Thinking?

Arguing your point is not critical thinking, that’s a competitive debate. Critical thinking is the ongoing [open ended] objective discovery of truth in a systematic fashion, and requires standards of thought, various tools and methodologies of inquiry, and a myriad of character traits that places the pursuit of truth above personal feelings and biases. However, arguing is usually engaged in because of biases and emotional attachments to particular outcomes that support a person’s identity, safety, and freedom. It may often feel like a necessity for open ended thinkers to use arguing to defend their objective reasoning from those who are biased and emotionally compromised, but that is an impossible battle for the truth seeker to win, because while competitive thinking can support open ended inquiry, open ended inquiry cannot support competitive thinking. As mentioned, there is a place for [competitive] arguing as a tool that supports critical thinking, and it is known as dialectical thinking; but it is merely one of many tools used in the open ended pursuit of objective truth. One might argue that without arguing, how are we to correct skewed and biased thinking? Thankfully, that is the job of the various universal standards of thought, tools and methodologies (of which dialectical thinking is but one of many), and intellectual character traits; they each contain self-correcting attributes within them. Additionally, problem solving is the other tool that is often taught as critical thinking, and while it can be an important facet of critical thought, it is just that, a facet, and not the entirety. 

Have you come to associate critical thinking with arguing your opinions? Why or why not? Were you ever formally taught universal standards of thought, intellectual character traits, and the various methodologies of inquiry? Do you see value in learning them? How might they add value to your own progression as an individual?

  1. Universal Intellectual Standards
  2. Intellectual Character Traits
  3. Tools and terms of critical thinking

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