As a small boy discovering the world of philosophy and sciences I learnt to think for myself. The answers that I could not find in the Bible, novels, comics and encyclopedia were somewhere else. The most important lesson of every philosophical book I read was always to wonder and perceive whatever you were reading or observing as if it was the first time. Then after perception, you would have an impression in your mind and process it for yourself to work out what it was, in short thinking.
Now thinking is more than just deep processing of impressions of perceptions and stimuli. The human mind and the brains are such complex phenomena in our existence that not everything is yet understood. From old cults, religions to Plato and a given person on the street now, when you ask “can you explain how the human mind works?” there is no standard answer. There are as many explanations and experiences as there are people it seems.
To get to explanations and descriptions of experiences and processes there is something that you must do. As is common in research and academics, usually also in conversation every question is followed by an answer. To ask a question is simple. In general there are two often asked questions, first “why?” and second “what is it?” Small children do it all the time and in their early years they are fast learners.
The question “why?” is a critical question and one of the most important one’s in human existence. By asking “why?” the asking person asks for the reason or cause or both. When you extend asking this question to a way of thinking you go further. In critical thinking you ask “why?”, “why so?”, “why in such a …?” until you know everything related to the reasons, causes, effects and the surrounding factors.
The question “what is it?” is an analytical question and just as important as the previous question. By asking “what is it?” the asking person asks for a description of what is perceived. Analytical thinking in a nutshell does just that. “What is it?”, “what is it exactly?”, “what does it do or make?”, “how does it work or survive?” and so on. Analytical thinking is therefore very useful for understanding what is observed and processes in a given situation.
What is interesting here is that critical thinking and analytical thinking are also part of human nature, to an extent. Just look at the history of humanity when the first humans were nomadic or semi-nomadic and lived as hunter-gatherers. To survive as a hunter-gatherer you have to develop an understanding of why and how A leads to B. As a hunter-gatherer you have to develop an understanding of how tools and weapons work in your advantage to survive many potentially dangerous situations.
By refining and improving your critical thinking ability and analytical thinking ability you can gradually increase your understanding of many situations to your own benefit. Just like logic, critical thinking and analytical thinking can be perceived as tools of the human mind next to imagination and intuition among others. The benefit of using a tool often depends on how skilled you are at using the tool in question. The best tool users are the craftsmen and crafts-women, the professionals of their trades.
There is something else that needs to be clear. Yes critical and analytical thinking are part of human nature, to an extent. Yes critical thinking and analytical thinking are abilities which can be learned and improved. Additionally you have to do it yourself. I have mentioned this in a previous post titled “The Value of Doing Things Yourself”. No one is going to open up your skull, surgically enhance your brains and voilà, you are an improved version of yourself. If you do not have the attitude and self-belief to do things yourself you cannot develop yourself.
In short the importance of critical thinking and analytical thinking is as important as thinking itself. Critical thinking and analytical thinking extend to more than deep processing. By asking specific questions you can start searching and researching for answers and develop an understanding of many things. Add to that the fact the critical thinking and analytical thinking are also part of human nature and can be refined and improved as abilities. Of course you have to do it yourself if you really want to develop yourself.
Creating understanding is important and understanding is based on critical and analytical thinking, hence their importance…
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