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Reading notes from "Beyond Feelings"

Reading notes from Beyond Feelings: A Guide to Critical Thinking:

  • The relationship between feeling and thinking: feelings need to be tested before being trusted, and thinking is the most reasonable and reliable way to test them.
  • As the desirable qualities suggest, critical thinking depends on mental discipline. Effective thinkers exert control over their mental life, direct their thoughts rather than being directed by them, and withhold their endorsement of any idea—even their own—until they have tested and confirmed it. John Dewey equated this mental discipline with freedom. That is, he argued that people who do not have it are not free persons but slaves to whim or circumstance:
    If a man’s actions are not guided by thoughtful conclusions, then they are guided by inconsiderate impulse, unbalanced appetite, caprice, or the circumstances of the moment. To cultivate unhindered, unreflective external activity is to foster enslavement, for it leaves the person at the mercy of appetite, sense, and circumstance.
  • Writing may be used for either of two broad purposes: to discover ideas or to communicate them.
  • Get rid of self-conceit. For it is impossible for anyone to begin to learn that which he thinks he already knows.
  • There are two habits that impede knowledge: assuming and guessing. Because assuming stifles curiosity and guessing denies the importance of evidence, neither is likely to lead to knowledge.
  • It is a fundamental principle of critical thinking that ideas are seldom of equal quality. Solutions to problems vary from the practical to the impractical, beliefs from the well-founded to the ill-founded, arguments from the logical to the illogical, and opinions from the informed to the uninformed. Critical thinking serves to separate the more worthy from the less worthy and, ultimately, to identify the best.
  • Three tips that can help you improve the quality of your opinions:
    1. Understand how opinions are formed.
    2. Resist the temptation to treat your opinions as facts.
    3. Monitor your thoughts to prevent the uncritical default mode from taking charge.
  • Chance favors the prepared mind. - Louis Pasteur
  • Use the following summary of the guidelines for persuasion as a checklist whenever you wish to present your ideas persuasively:
    1. Respect your audience.
    2. Understand your audience’s viewpoint.
    3. Begin from a position you have in common with your readers.
    4. Take a positive approach.
    5. Understate your argument whenever possible.
    6. Concede where the opposing side has a point.
    7. Don’t ignore any relevant facts.
    8. Don’t overwhelm your readers with arguments.
    9. Focus on the argument best calculated to persuade your audience.
    10. Never use anargument you do not believe is sound or relevant.
    11. Allow time for your view to gain acceptance.