Logical Thinking

Start Free Trial

What is critical thinking?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Critical thinking is a key skill in any walk of life, especially for students at all levels of study, whether basic or advanced. Simply put, critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally, understanding the logical connection between ideas.

This way of thinking encourages students to be active...

This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Get 48 Hours Free Access

participants in the learning process instead of passive recipients of information. Those who engage in critical thinking don't simply allow their brains to be crammed with information; they actually think about what they've been taught and actively question and evaluate the ideas that have been transmitted to them.

Armed with critical thinking skills, it becomes possible for students to engage in problem solving, which is itself a very important life skill. Even those of us not currently engaged in formal education need to solve problems in our lives on a regular basis. Critical thinking makes it a lot easier for us to do this, as it gives us the ability to see our problems from a more objective standpoint. If we're too caught up in our subjectivity, too emotional about dealing with our problems, then it's all too easy to lose perspective, and invariably, the consequences are negative.

In an age of fake news and with the internet positively infested with all kinds of disinformation, critical thinking skills are more important than ever. People need them in order to be able to sort the wheat from the chaff, as it were: to know which pieces of information we're presented with are true and which aren't. Only then will we be in a position to hold reasoned, informed opinions about the subjects that concern us.

Approved by eNotes Editorial
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Critical thinking is reasoning at the highest level. It involves thinking that is often very independent because it rejects immediate acceptance of what is termed conventional wisdom, or "fashionable thinking." Critical thinking involves analyzing, assessing, and reconstructing ideas. Its pitfalls are emotional reactions and biased thought. Being open-minded is, perhaps, one of the greatest challenges nowadays because of the virtual propaganda that is disseminated by various forms of political and social media.

  • Critical thinking involves stepping outside of oneself and gathering information that is relevant. 
  • Then, it involves assessing this information, employing abstract but relevant ideas to assist in interpreting the information.
  • Critical thinking comes to deductive, well-reasoned conclusions, having excluded other irrelevant ideas. These conclusions are then tested against relative standards.
  • Critical thinking is open-minded and logical and independent.
  • Etymologically, the word "critical" derives from two Greek words that mean "discerning judgment based on standards."
Approved by eNotes Editorial