Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Gerald Dworkin — On Critical Thinking

We need courses devoted to such matters because we are living in a time where the dangers to informed and rational thought are not so much bad or sloppy thought but a poisoning of the flow of reliable information. It is not the transition from premises to conclusion that is often at fault but the premises themselves....
A sound argument is one whose logical form is valid and whose premises are true. The conclusion of a sound argument then follows from the premises and is true both deductively and representationally.

Simple, but a lot of things are in play and it takes a sharp mind with careful training to detect the problems. This is particularly the case when ordinary language is employed, which is most of the time in persuasion. Scientific method has been designed to reduce this risk, but there are also plenty of ways that scientific reasoning can go wrong, too.

Rigor in thinking requires training to acquire and apply. It also requires the ability to handle nuance.

Without such training most people are unable to follow an argument and critique correctly. As a result, persuasion based on rhetorical is often substituted successfully for rational argumentation based on logic and data that are genuine.

There is a difference between "data" and data. Fake news based on dubious or even bogus sources is an example, but this is a rather egregious one. There are a lot more subtle ways to persuade using sophistry.

3 Quarks Daily
On Critical Thinking
Gerald Dworkin | Distinguished Professor of Philosophy Emeritus at the University of California, Davis

26 comments:

Noah Way said...

Fine arts training is based on rigorous observation, which is the basis for critical analysis.

Tom Hickey said...

Fine arts training is based on rigorous observation

Yes, especially detail and nuance.

Matt Franko said...

Pffffffftt...

Matt Franko said...

Yeah Noah a lot of oscilloscopes laying around in the Art Degree departments,

Bob said...

Lumping propaganda, misinformation, puff pieces, satire and reporting errors as "fake news" has done wonders for critical thinking.

Tom Hickey said...

There is a fast range of training, different types useful for different tasks.

So-called primitive people lived and still live their entire lives under conditions in which most people in civilization would last at most a couple of days.

Artists can see color variation that a scientist would need an instrument to detect. Same with musicians and sound variation. So-called primitive people have a similar sensibility that allows them to survive and prosper (relatively) in a hostile environment with lots of dangers all the time.

Architects appreciate subtleties of space that other cannot easily detect without training, and they also have the material systems skills to design structures that structural sound, efficient, and cost-effective. They are both artists and scientists.

I could go on.

Tom Hickey said...

Lumping propaganda, misinformation, puff pieces, satire and reporting errors as "fake news" has done wonders for critical thinking.

The challenges of the times are waking a lot of people up to the need for critical thinking. Increasingly, it is "question authority," and "trust and also verify."

Twitter has actually been a good resource for bringing a lot of this to light and to attention, at least if people aren't hunkered into silos.

Noah Way said...

a lot of oscilloscopes laying around in the Art Degree departments

As there are at Harvard's MBA program, Yale Law, and Stanford's Political Science department.

Franko, calling you an idiot would be an insult to idiots.

Matt Franko said...

“Artists can see color variation that a scientist would need an instrument to detect. ”

They never quantify it though.... don’t wanna do math....

Noah all Art Degree programs you’ve listed there.... those are all the morons running things at present....

jrbarch said...

It’s amazing really – the same dim mind, that so long ago worked out how to get fire from a stick, or flint stone; barely six thousand years of cognition for modern man, a blink of the eye in 4.543 billion years for the earth .... landed a man on the moon (and brought back a few rocks). Hooked everyone up with cell phones – but what are people really saying to one another? And created all the problems in this world. The same mind, completely capable of devising solutions – but we have to learn not to interfere first. Me me me me me has to give way to US! We are on this planet all together – should not we learn to get along? It is humanity that needs to grow; to make peace with itself. It is impossible to be at peace with other people when you are not at peace with yourself. Who can defend humanity other than human beings?

War, greed, is not our essence. They are our weakness, not our strength. Be very clear about this. They are our smoke, not our fire, light, understanding, or passion. At our very core is peace, clarity, serenity, dignity and know-how. It was cooperation that got us through the last six thousand years – not war. War has never achieved anything in human history that could not have been better achieved by peace. Therein lies the hidden treasure of a human being; something that could make the last six thousand years look like we were all asleep; the amazing potential of self-knowledge: - for ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve’, gifted with planet earth, to find out who they really are .... where they really are. To illuminate that mind that first found how to generate light and warm the hands, with the illumination of the self. There is no better time .....

Tom Hickey said...

Its' OK if scientists choose to live in a monchrome and monotone world world wrt sensibility. But some of them don't and also train themselves in the arts in order to become multi-dimensional rather than remain uni-dimensional. But it's a personal choice.

Matt Franko said...

“War, greed, is not our essence.”

For some people it obviously is... c’mon...

Matt Franko said...

JR,

Here is James Mattis US secdef:

“If you fuck with me, I'll kill you all"-Mattis

He probably thinks you are the one who is fucked up.... not him....

You’re not going to change these people....

Tom Hickey said...

How do you change psychopaths and sociopaths? Can't treat them as normal.

Matt Franko said...

“Greed”

Here is Steve Schwarzman:

“When he pursues deals as the chief executive of Blackstone Group, he says, he wants to "inflict pain" on and "kill off" his rivals. Mr. Schwarzman said he views each deal as a contest to the death. His intended message to the market: Blackstone will get what it wants at the price it wants to pay. Mr. Schwarzman likes battles to play out quickly. "I want war -- not a series of skirmishes," he said of his philosophy. "I always think about what will kill off the other bidder."

He probably thinks you guys are fucked up...

Matt Franko said...

“How do you change psychopaths and sociopaths? “

That’s why I always took math and material science....

jrbarch said...

Matt -

I know very well, where human beings can end up (the what) – but we have to understand why; how did they get there?

Suppose, just for one moment, what I am saying is true: - the essence of every human being that has ever come and gone on this planet is peace; and this because the essence of every rock, every tree, everything, even the 'darkness' – is Divine. I am just one little voice among many many voices on this planet to say something like this; and that life is a road to understanding and experiencing this - it is not far from us. What prevents this understanding from blossoming is the mind; and what allows it to blossom is the heart.

Then, one has to ask, how could a human being wander so far away from their essence, that out of fear and a clinical dose of egoism, they would bark (regardless of their public position) what Mattis is reported to have said.

It is the responsibility of James Mattis to change his mind; not mine or anyone else’s. People have to change themselves. My job is to simply speak from my own experience.

Mattis got to his understanding by listening to his mind. I can assure you it was not by listening to his heart.

Mind and heart are not a thesis Matt.

Every day, we write in the pages of our life our story. You can write from the heart or you can write from the mind. Both are relevant in their own world. Mind is the judge of what is written from the mind and heart is the judge of what is written from the heart; mind has no idea how to read or understand the language of the heart (witness Mattis) but heart is a universal language that encompasses all others.

When the last page is written and the book closes, will you look to your mind or your heart? Mind fades away like the vapour that it is; the ego is broken like a pencil. Only true love goes with you. That’s my reading of ‘eye of the needle’ .... there is only one thing that the human heart can truly love. Learning that it is said, is everything. Mission accomplished!

Andrew Anderson said...

How do you change psychopaths and sociopaths? Tom Hickey

More pertinent, how do we prevent them from doing damage to the economy?

With government privileges for private credit creation?

With only a single payment system they can wreck?

The problem isn't the psychopaths and sociopaths but those who create and enable them, i.e. those who support government privileges for the banks?

How the Dominant Business Paradigm Turns Nice People into Psychopaths

Noah Way said...

That’s why I always took math and material science....

Which partly explains your ignorance.

Bob said...

Mattis is a moderate compared to others in Washington... oh well.

Matt Franko said...

Lol well I’m not technically ignorant in material systems !

You guys are ones going all around saying everything is a conspiracy theory not me...

Tom Hickey said...

You guys are ones going all around saying everything is a conspiracy theory not me...

Because if it is not expressible in as a deterministic function, you can't see it, and if you can't see it, it doesn't exists. Yet Paul's letters, even those whose authenticity is controversial among scholars, are authoritative.

Cognitive dissonance?

Andrew Anderson said...

I agree there's a conspiracy but it's directed from Satan, i.e.:

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Ephesians 6:12-13

Noah Way said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Noah Way said...

Cognitive dissonance?

The Dunning-Kruger Effect.

jrbarch said...

Have the courage to understand.

‘War begins in the minds of men’ – then spills out into the world.

Mind is the personal real estate of each human. We are so used to blaming everyone and everything else, even god for what goes on in there; always making excuses – pointing the finger when three fingers point back at us.

Wake up in the morning and first of all, perhaps just for a moment, there is peace. Then mind jumps in – starts telling you who you are, what you have to do today, who this person is and who that person is, blab la bla all day long. Mind has you by the neck and is driving you around like a lawn mower, all day long – stressing you out. There is a monkey on your back, whipping you - yet you call yourself an independent person. Mind creates your reality for you without even asking by your leave. Mind can take you out into the desert and dump you there; then laugh at you and tell you it is all your fault. Mind rules you all day long and you don’t even realise. This is Kali Yuga – the age of iron (materialism) when intellect is confused.

It is though mind’s job is to lead you as far away from the heart as it possibly can. Because it knows the heart holds within it the true self of a human being. Mind will have to become a servant.

Everyone thinks the world is a very sophisticated place – and technologically speaking, it is. But the fundamentals remain. Mind thinks the world of egoism, its world is the only reality. Mind is unenlightened and wrong.

I am not the first one to say this. Within each human the heart calls out – what you are looking for is within. Your reality, the only reality there is, is within you. Mind has no clue. Right up to the last breath.

Mind argues back and forth about this and that; egos clash. Mind needs to learn how to be still and begin to experience what is inside. Real peace too, is a possibility. Then the mind will change its mind about just about everything – see the potential of the creativity of the self. When it understands the value of a human being. It is only the heart in a human being that knows how to build a better world. Mind has had its chance and screwed things up royally.

Without the heart, mind is useless – like a parachute with the central piece of fabric missing. That’s why fear is there – to tell you something is missing.