Lecture 3 09/27/2012
Critical Sociological Thinking
The intellectual roots of critical thinking can be traced to Socrates, over 2,500, years ago
“The unexamined life is not worth living”
“the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing
Socrates Discovered people often could not rationally justify their claims to
knowledge, instead they:
Gave inadequate evidence
Provided contradictory beliefs as support
Often relied on those in authority as their source of proof of their claims
Socrates developed a mode of inquiry that focused on importance of:
Closely examining reasoning & assumptions
Analyzing basic concepts
Tracing out implications not only of what is said but of what is done as well
And he was willing to die for it
The agenda set by Socrates for critical thinking is one that we follow today, when
Question what we hold to be true
Sort out beliefs that are logical and reasonable, from those that lack adequate evidence or a rational
Refer to baseline for critical sociological thinking: ask these questions:
What is the most fundamental issue/concept here?
From what point of view should I approach this problem?
Is this a credible source of information?
Does it make sense for me to assume this?
How could I check the accuracy of these data? From these data may I infer this?
Is this piece of information consistent with that piece of information?
Can I be confident in the conclusions I reach?
Why bother with critical thinking?
Memorization vs understanding
Evaluation info + evaluating our thought (in a disciplined way) = helps us refine our thou