Reasoning and Thinking


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Reason and imagination rely on similar mental processes. Aristotle, for example, stated that phantasia imagination: that which can hold images or phantasmata and phronein a type of thinking that can judge and understand in some sense also exist in some animals. But this is not yet reason, because human imagination is different. The recent modern writings of Terrence Deacon and Merlin Donald , writing about the origin of language , also connect reason connected to not only language , but also mimesis.

Other results are consciousness , and imagination or fantasy. In contrast, modern proponents of a genetic predisposition to language itself include Noam Chomsky and Steven Pinker , to whom Donald and Deacon can be contrasted. As reason is symbolic thinking, and peculiarly human, then this implies that humans have a special ability to maintain a clear consciousness of the distinctness of "icons" or images and the real things they represent. Starting with a modern author, Merlin Donald writes [45].

A dog might perceive the "meaning" of a fight that was realistically play-acted by humans, but it could not reconstruct the message or distinguish the representation from its referent a real fight. In classical descriptions, an equivalent description of this mental faculty is eikasia , in the philosophy of Plato. What Klein refers to as dianoetic eikasia is the eikasia concerned specifically with thinking and mental images, such as those mental symbols, icons, signes , and marks discussed above as definitive of reason.

This thinking dianoia is " Both Merlin Donald and the Socratic authors such as Plato and Aristotle emphasize the importance of mimesis , often translated as imitation or representation. Donald writes [48]. Imitation is found especially in monkeys and apes [ In Michael Davis's account of the theory of man in this work.

It is the distinctive feature of human action, that whenever we choose what we do, we imagine an action for ourselves as though we were inspecting it from the outside. Intentions are nothing more than imagined actions, internalizings of the external. All action is therefore imitation of action; it is poetic Donald like Plato and Aristotle, especially in On Memory and Recollection , emphasizes the peculiarity in humans of voluntary initiation of a search through one's mental world.

Memory, shared with some animals, [51] requires a consciousness not only of what happened in the past, but also that something happened in the past, which is in other words a kind of eikasia [52] " Klein writes that, "To become aware of our having forgotten something means to begin recollecting. This permits voluntary recall of mimetic representations, without the aid of external cues — probably the earliest form of representational thinking.

In a celebrated paper in modern times, the fantasy author and philologist J. Tolkien wrote in his essay "On Fairy Stories" that the terms "fantasy" and "enchantment" are connected to not only " Looking at logical categorizations of different types of reasoning the traditional main division made in philosophy is between deductive reasoning and inductive reasoning.

Formal logic has been described as the science of deduction. A subdivision of Philosophy is Logic.

Logic is the study of reasoning. Deduction is a form of reasoning in which a conclusion follows necessarily from the stated premises. A deduction is also the conclusion reached by a deductive reasoning process. One classic example of deductive reasoning is that found in syllogisms like the following:.

The reasoning in this argument is valid, because there is no way in which the premises, 1 and 2, could be true and the conclusion, 3, be false. Induction is a form of inference producing propositions about unobserved objects or types, either specifically or generally, based on previous observation. It is used to ascribe properties or relations to objects or types based on previous observations or experiences , or to formulate general statements or laws based on limited observations of recurring phenomenal patterns.

Inductive reasoning contrasts strongly with deductive reasoning in that, even in the best, or strongest, cases of inductive reasoning, the truth of the premises does not guarantee the truth of the conclusion. Instead, the conclusion of an inductive argument follows with some degree of probability. Relatedly, the conclusion of an inductive argument contains more information than is already contained in the premises. Thus, this method of reasoning is ampliative. A classic example of inductive reasoning comes from the empiricist David Hume :.

Analogical reasoning is a form of inductive reasoning from a particular to a particular. It is often used in case-based reasoning , especially legal reasoning. Analogical reasoning is a weaker form of inductive reasoning from a single example, because inductive reasoning typically uses a large number of examples to reason from the particular to the general.

For example:. Abductive reasoning, or argument to the best explanation, is a form of reasoning that doesn't fit in deductive or inductive, since it starts with incomplete set of observations and proceeds with likely possible explanations so the conclusion in an abductive argument does not follow with certainty from its premises and concerns something unobserved. What distinguishes abduction from the other forms of reasoning is an attempt to favour one conclusion above others, by subjective judgement or attempting to falsify alternative explanations or by demonstrating the likelihood of the favoured conclusion, given a set of more or less disputable assumptions.

For example, when a patient displays certain symptoms, there might be various possible causes, but one of these is preferred above others as being more probable. Flawed reasoning in arguments is known as fallacious reasoning.

Bad reasoning within arguments can be because it commits either a formal fallacy or an informal fallacy. Formal fallacies occur when there is a problem with the form, or structure, of the argument. The word "formal" refers to this link to the form of the argument. An argument that contains a formal fallacy will always be invalid.

An informal fallacy is an error in reasoning that occurs due to a problem with the content , rather than mere structure , of the argument. Philosophy is sometimes described as a life of reason, with normal human reason pursued in a more consistent and dedicated way than usual. Two categories of problem concerning reason have long been discussed by philosophers concerning reason, essentially being reasonings about reasoning itself as a human aim, or philosophizing about philosophizing. The first question is concerning whether we can be confident that reason can achieve knowledge of truth better than other ways of trying to achieve such knowledge.

The other question is whether a life of reason, a life that aims to be guided by reason, can be expected to achieve a happy life more so than other ways of life whether such a life of reason results in knowledge or not. Since classical times a question has remained constant in philosophical debate which is sometimes seen as a conflict between movements called Platonism and Aristotelianism concerning the role of reason in confirming truth. People use logic, deduction , and induction , to reach conclusions they think are true.

Conclusions reached in this way are considered, according to Aristotle, more certain than sense perceptions on their own. This leads to the question of what types of first principles , or starting points of reasoning, are available for someone seeking to come to true conclusions. In Greek, " first principles " are archai , "starting points", [61] and the faculty used to perceive them is sometimes referred to in Aristotle [62] and Plato [63] as nous which was close in meaning to awareness or consciousness.

Empiricism sometimes associated with Aristotle [65] but more correctly associated with British philosophers such as John Locke and David Hume , as well as their ancient equivalents such as Democritus asserts that sensory impressions are the only available starting points for reasoning and attempting to attain truth.

6 Critical Thinking Steps

This approach always leads to the controversial conclusion that absolute knowledge is not attainable. Idealism , associated with Plato and his school , claims that there is a "higher" reality, from which certain people can directly arrive at truth without needing to rely only upon the senses, and that this higher reality is therefore the primary source of truth. Philosophers such as Plato , Aristotle , Al-Farabi , Avicenna , Averroes , Maimonides , Aquinas and Hegel are sometimes said to have argued that reason must be fixed and discoverable—perhaps by dialectic, analysis, or study.

In the vision of these thinkers, reason is divine or at least has divine attributes. According to Hegel, " Since the 17th century rationalists , reason has often been taken to be a subjective faculty , or rather the unaided ability pure reason to form concepts. For Descartes , Spinoza and Leibniz , this was associated with mathematics. Kant attempted to show that pure reason could form concepts time and space that are the conditions of experience.

Kant made his argument in opposition to Hume, who denied that reason had any role to play in experience. After Plato and Aristotle, western literature often treated reason as being the faculty that trained the passions and appetites. Reason has been seen as a slave, or judge, of the passions, notably in the work of David Hume , and more recently of Freud. Rousseau first proposed, in his second Discourse , that reason and political life is not natural and possibly harmful to mankind.

What, other than reason and civil society, "best suits his constitution"?


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Rousseau saw "two principles prior to reason" in human nature. First we hold an intense interest in our own well-being. Secondly we object to the suffering or death of any sentient being, especially one like ourselves.

Logical Reasoning

We become dependent upon each other, and on relationships of authority and obedience. This effectively puts the human race into slavery. Rousseau says that he almost dares to assert that nature does not destine men to be healthy. All the same, Rousseau understands such corrections to be only ameliorations of an essentially unsatisfactory condition, that of socially and intellectually corrupted humanity. This quandary presented by Rousseau led to Kant 's new way of justifying reason as freedom to create good and evil. These therefore are not to be blamed on nature or God. In various ways, German Idealism after Kant, and major later figures such Nietzsche , Bergson , Husserl , Scheler , and Heidegger , remain preoccupied with problems coming from the metaphysical demands or urges of reason.

Tips on How to Prepare for Your Logical Reasoning Test

Many writers such as Nikos Kazantzakis extol passion and disparage reason. In politics modern nationalism comes from Rousseau's argument that rationalist cosmopolitanism brings man ever further from his natural state. Another view on reason and emotion was proposed in the book titled Descartes' Error by Antonio Damasio. In it, Damasio presents the " Somatic Marker Hypothesis " which states that emotions guide behavior and decision-making. Damasio argues that these somatic markers known collectively as "gut feelings" are "intuitive signals" that direct our decision making processes in a certain way that cannot be solved with rationality alone.

Damasio further argues that rationality requires emotional input in order to function. There are many religious traditions, some of which are explicitly fideist and others of which claim varying degrees of rationalism. Secular critics sometimes accuse all religious adherents of irrationality, since they claim such adherents are guilty of ignoring, suppressing, or forbidding some kinds of reasoning concerning some subjects such as religious dogmas, moral taboos, etc.

Religious adherents sometimes respond by arguing that faith and reason can be reconciled, or have different non-overlapping domains, or that critics engage in a similar kind of irrationalism:. Some commentators have claimed that Western civilization can be almost defined by its serious testing of the limits of tension between "unaided" reason and faith in " revealed " truths—figuratively summarized as Athens and Jerusalem , respectively.

Objective Reasoning – Systems Innovation

He was particularly influenced by the great Muslim philosopher Al-Farabi. To consider to what extent Eastern philosophy might have partaken of these important tensions, Strauss thought it best to consider whether dharma or tao may be equivalent to Nature by which we mean physis in Greek.

According to Strauss the beginning of philosophy involved the "discovery or invention of nature" and the "pre-philosophical equivalent of nature" was supplied by "such notions as 'custom' or 'ways ' ", which appear to be really universal in all times and places. The philosophical concept of nature or natures as a way of understanding archai first principles of knowledge brought about a peculiar tension between reasoning on the one hand, and tradition or faith on the other. Although there is this special history of debate concerning reason and faith in the Islamic, Christian and Jewish traditions, the pursuit of reason is sometimes argued to be compatible with the other practice of other religions of a different nature, such as Hinduism , because they do not define their tenets in such an absolute way.

Aristotle famously described reason with language as a part of human nature , which means that it is best for humans to live "politically" meaning in communities of about the size and type of a small city state polis in Greek. For example For nature, as we say, makes nothing in vain, and humans are the only animals who possess reasoned speech [ logos ]. Voice, of course, serves to indicate what is painful and pleasant; that is why it is also found in other animals, because their nature has reached the point where they can perceive what is painful and pleasant and express these to each other.

But speech [ logos ] serves to make plain what is advantageous and harmful and so also what is just and unjust. For it is a peculiarity of humans, in contrast to the other animals, to have perception of good and bad, just and unjust, and the like; and the community in these things makes a household or city [ polis ].

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For as humans are the best of all animals when perfected, so they are the worst when divorced from law and right. The reason is that injustice is most difficult to deal with when furnished with weapons, and the weapons a human being has are meant by nature to go along with prudence and virtue, but it is only too possible to turn them to contrary uses. Consequently, if a human being lacks virtue, he is the most unholy and savage thing, and when it comes to sex and food, the worst. But justice is something political [to do with the polis ], for right is the arrangement of the political community, and right is discrimination of what is just.

Aristotle's Politics a 1. Peter Simpson's translation, with Greek terms inserted in square brackets. The concept of human nature being fixed in this way, implied, in other words, that we can define what type of community is always best for people. Logic is a universal part of the human experience — agriculture would be impossible without inductive reasoning about weather and sunlight, and construction would be impossible without mathematics and deductive reasoning about what makes a structure sturdy.

Formalized logic has appeared in several places with more or less similar results. The Greek philosopher Aristotle is credited with being the first to develop a formal system of logical reasoning, but there were already people in India and China working on formal logic long before Aristotle was born. The Indian, Chinese, and Greek systems were all remarkably similar in their rules, which suggests that there may have been some mutual influence despite the distance.

Traders and travelling scholars may have brought ideas about logical reasoning with them all over the world, allowing for rapid development of new ideas. Logic may seem like a stuffy, abstract discipline used only by philosophers and lawyers, but it has had a profound influence on the history of science and technology as well. Spock was raised on Vulcan and trained to be perfectly rational, ignoring all emotion and concentrating on logical reasoning instead. This represents a widespread trope in popular culture — that logic and the emotions are at odds with each other the head pulling one way and the heart pulling in another.

That is, they bring together bits and pieces of evidence to develop a theory about what probably happened in a particular crime. Reduction and induction. Deduction and induction. Greek logic and Chinese logic.


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Toggle navigation. Page Menu. Translate this page from English Helping Students Assess Their Thinking by Richard Paul and Linda Elder There are two essential dimensions of thinking that students need to master in order to learn how to upgrade their thinking.


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They need to be able to identify the "parts" of their thinking, and they need to be able to assess their use of these parts of thinking , as follows: All reasoning has a purpose All reasoning is an attempt to figure something out, to settle some question, to solve some problem All reasoning is based on assumptions All reasoning is done from some point of view All reasoning is based on data, information, and evidence All reasoning is expressed through, and shaped by, concepts and ideas All reasoning contains inferences by which we draw conclusions and give meaning to data All reasoning leads somewhere, has implications and consequences The question can then be raised, "What appropriate intellectual standards do students need to assess the 'parts' of their thinking?

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