Proponents of critical thinking derive their theory from the ancients, especially Socrates, who discovered by a method of probing questioning that people could not rationally justify their confident claims to knowledge. His method of questioning is now known as ‘Socratic Questioning’ and is the best known critical thinking teaching strategy. In his mode of questioning, Socrates highlighted the need in thinking for clarity and logical consistency.
In the Renaissance, Francis Bacon, in England, recognized explicitly that the mind cannot safely be left to its natural tendencies. In his book The Advancement of Learning, he argued for the importance of studying the world empirically.
Some fifty years later in France, Descartes wrote what might be called the second text in critical thinking, Rules For the Direction of the Mind. In it, Descartes argued for the need for a special systematic disciplining of the mind to guide it in thinking. He articulated and defended the need in thinking for clarity and precision; developed a method of critical thought based on the principle of systematic doubt. Every part of thinking, he argued, should be questioned, doubted, and tested.
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