Monday, April 2, 2012

[PL 211] Critical thinking & philosophical thinking

According to Amos Shapira, the CEO of Cellcom, a major cellphone provider in Israel:
The knowledge I use as CEO can be acquired in two weeks.... The main thing a student needs to be taught is how to study and analyze things (including) history and philosophy.
This suggests that studying philosophy is primarily about mastering a set of skills (know-how) rather than mastering a body of information. Do you agree? If so, what are those skills? How do they differ, if at all, from critical thinking skills?


  1. I agree with Amos Shapira, in that studying philosophy is primarily about mastering a set of skills rather than mastering a body of information. I believe that philosophy serves a great purpose by teaching human beings how to think and act for themselves. It probes much further into our thought process than the general sciences do with regard to critical thinking. In preparation for this assignment, I listened to the “Philosophy in Education” clip that was provided. In the clip, Michael Hand and Stephen Boulter justify the need for philosophy to be in all school curriculums. According to them, there are two major benefits of studying philosophy as a student:

    1. The ability to think clearly
    2. To deal with normative inquiry

    To think clearly, we are able to think and act for ourselves. If we must make a decision, we must think clearly to foresee the advantages or consequences of our actions. It is essential for students to learn this skill at a young age and the speakers in the clip believe that philosophy assists in this task. The second benefit of studying philosophy is to deal with normative inquiry. This means that we are to “think carefully about what we ought to do.” This addresses major decisions that include how we are to live, who and what we are to support and what career we might pursue.
    Philosophical thinking really takes shape when someone is told contradictory things and faces a dilemma. In this situation, there is a need for reflection. By thinking clearly and dealing with normative inquiry, we can take the best course of action out of a difficult situation.
    Critical thinking skills differ from philosophy in a number of ways. In my reading, I have found that critical thinking deals primarily with argumentation. On the side of the blog, I found that critical thinking involves analyzing claims, assessing evidence for claims, figuring out how evidence supports claims, questioning what doesn’t make sense, and deciding what is worthy of belief. Without the basis of philosophy, none of these actions would be possible.
    Towards the end of the radio clip, Hand and Boulter agree that teacher training should include a mix of critical thinking as well as philosophical training. In the competitive world that we live it, it is very important to stay one step ahead. By utilizing philosophy and critical thinking skills, we can become well rounded in our thinking and actions.

  2. Philosophy focuses on fundamental problems that deal with reality, existence, knowledge, value, and reason. I feel that philosophy can address problems through systematic approaches which are simple to learn. I believe that studying philosophy can teach an important skill set that includes how to approach problems, viewing arguments from multiple perspectives, and to think around situations. Studying philosophy refines the ability to communicate clearly with others and articulate thoughts in a meaningful way. That skill set is similar to critical thinking skills because you are formulating ideas that are reasoned and well thought out.

  3. Yes, I must say that I agree with Amos Shapira. Philosophy is much different than sitting with a textbook and memorizing definitions, but requires much more of your brains capacity. I would argue that memorizing information and mastering a body of information, is almost a passive way of going about obtaining information. Philosophy on the other hand, is about clear thinking, and helping us interpret not only what we think, but also why we think it. It takes more effort on the part of a student to read a literary piece, and create premises and conclusions based on the reading. In my opinion critical thinking and the skills used in philosophy are very identical. Critical thinking requires the ability to deduce consequences as a result of the knowledge they already possess, and the ability to use information in order to create solutions, as well as seek pertinent evidence to inform our ideas and beliefs. Forming and crafting deductive and inductive arguments, as well as establishing methods of formulating and maintaining our vibrant thoughts fall in line with philosophical skills. The similarities between these two are very apparent because they are in need of one another to genuinely flourish.

    Colleen Fonseca

  4. I do not agree with the idea that studying philosophy is more about mastering a set of skills rather than mastering a body of information. Philosophy is all about wisdom and thinking deeper than the norm. It goes into concepts and roots that are often beyond a regular person who doesn’t think much about philosophy understands. An artist masters a set of skills such as drawing and painting techniques and then uses those skills in a picture, or sculpture. A philosopher comes up with concepts that try to make sense of the world around us (Philosophy in Education). Philosophy teaches about moral values and looks deeper into the concept of “why.” In reference to the quote, yes to be a CEO all one may need to do is memorize a couple of facts and rules and then be taught the skills to do them, as with any other careers. But to study philosophy there is no specific way to do this. Since philosophy is a body of wisdom about the world around us, as a student I think it’s easier to master this body of information by reading it and thinking about how it works. Philosophy is not like subjects such as math or science where one can make flashcards and memorize equations and then use them on an exam. Philosophy goes into much more depth and one can’t really “study” it, but rather experience it in their own way while learning about it. For example when I first learned about Plato’s Allegory of the Cave and I had a test on this topic, I did not just master a set of skills and memorize the allegory. Instead I mastered the information by visualizing the concept in my mind. I think that by mastering the body of information, it is in itself a skill and easier to understand philosophical concepts. We have asked ourselves philosophical questions every day from when we were little such as: “why do I have to go to school?” or “why do I have to learn this subject?” (Philosophy in Education) and experienced the answers to them on our own. We did not understand the answers to these questions just by knowing how to answer it, but rather understanding why by going through the experience and mastering the information.

    Works Cited
    "Philosophy in Education | Podcasts | Philosophy Now." Philosophy in Education | Podcasts | Philosophy Now. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Feb. 2015. .

  5. I agree studying philosophy is primarily about mastering a set of skills (know-how) rather than mastering a body of information. Philosophy does not exactly teach what to think but rather how to think. Philosophy is a discipline that when studied, one should learn how to connect elusive theories and universal ideas with the real objects, ideas, and situations; in order to provide people with a more profound way of thinking or experience. Some of the skills that should be mastered include problem solving, knowing how to ask the right questions, analyzing problems/theories/ideas from multiple perspectives, and weighing the pros and cons of opposing proposals. Critical thinking comes into play with these skills. Critical thinking allows us to effectively utilize our knowledge and intellect in order to come to the most logical and valid conclusion. Thinking critically goes hand and hand with philosophy because it easier and quicker for a philosopher to make reasonable decisions and reach rational beliefs or take justifiable actions.
    The difference though between critical thinking and philosophy is that critical thinking is not the actual process of acquiring information. A critical thinker knows “how” to think as well as is able to construe significant results from what they know. Philosophy helps interpret reality, acquire understanding, and incorporates language to communicate how things should be understood. Studying philosophy helps to develop critical thinking abilities.

  6. I personally agree that philosophy should be taught in schools everywhere. Philosophy is a good way of teaching people, especially students, how to think on their own instead of being forced what to think by others. When students are taught this course, they can use critical thinking in order to develop their own ideas and concepts about life. Also, I believe that philosophy can also help students in their day to day life, not only at school. It can help them at home and in all their other class subjects subjects. They can use philosophy in science to understand why the body works the way it does. Or they can use it in math to grasp why the multiplication table is the way it is, instead of just memorizing all the numbers. Philosophy allows students to understand why things are the way they are, instead of just hoping they believe you when you say “cheating and lying are wrong.” I think the best skill that philosophy has to offer is that it allows people to ask themselves ‘Why’. The why question permits people to really think in depth about why and how certain beliefs came into place. It is much better for a person to understand the meaning of something fully, instead of just believing that other people are correct. I think philosophy in schools allows students to use their minds in a way they wouldn’t normally use it. It gives them the opportunity to figure out how their minds work and helps them understand why they believe and accept certain things in life. I would much rather know why I am doing something, instead of doing it just because I am told to.


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