Difference Between Thinking and Critical Thinking
Thinking and Critical Thinking
The Two Think-Tanks: Thinking and Critical Thinking
Every human being is capable of thinking, but some say that only a handful are able to do critical thinking. What’s the difference?
Thinking is the mental process, the act and the ability to produce thoughts. People think about almost everything and anything. They often think of people, things, places, and anything without a reason or by a trigger of a stimulus. Meanwhile, critical thinking often means “thinking about thinking.” In a sense, it is a deeper thinking about a particular issue or situation before actually deciding and acting.
In a given situation, thinking is an action that requires the person to form a thought about that situation. Any thought can be formed even without facts or evidence. When critical thinking is applied, the mind is open to all considerations, assumptions, and details before actually forming a thought or an opinion. A person who is a critical thinker regards the subject itself and all its aspects like the methods of collecting facts or motivation behind the facts. A person who employs critical thinking often adds the question “why” to “who, what, where, and when” in a particular situation.
To illustrate, imagine a person in a bookstore. This person can pick out a book and think that the book is good upon first impression. A critical thinking person would open the book, read some passages, and read about the author before actually deciding whether to buy the book or not. The customer might often wonder why the title is given or why the author chose to write this particular piece of literature.
A thinker may accept facts or realities upon faith or without examination and analysis of the issue. These facts or realities are often perceived as “truth” and cannot be criticized or modified. In this situation, there is no need of evidence or the effort to produce it and its examination.
Critical thinking is the opposite of all of these. It often requires a lot of time, questions, and considerations. It also involves a longer process before arriving at a conclusion or decision.
Persons who apply critical thinking are often open-minded and mindful of alternatives. They try to be well-informed and do not jump early at conclusions. Critical-thinking persons know and identify conclusions, reasons, and assumptions. They use clarifying and probing questions in order to formulate their reasonable situations and arguments. They often try to integrate all items in the situation and then draw conclusions with reason and caution. They also have good judgment on the credibility of sources, the quality of an argument aside from developing and defending their stand. If asked, these people can clearly articulate their argument with all its strengths and weaknesses.
Critical thinking is an on-going process and activity. This skill is learned by active practice and constant use. Exposure to controversial issues and thought-provoking situations stimulate the mind to do this skill. The skill is then applied upon careful examination of an issue or situation. Meanwhile, thinking can be done in an instant without any given proof and/or justification.
Critical thinking follows logic, accuracy, and process while thinking sometimes occurs with faith and personal opinion. The former requires evidence and further actions of examination and analysis while the latter does not. So it’s up to you to think and decide.
1. Both thinking and critical thinking are mental processes.
2. Thinking can be classified as an action while critical thinking can be said to be a skill.
3. Critical thinking is used with caution while thinking can be spontaneous.
4. A critical thinker is able to identify the main contention in an issue, look for evidence that supports or opposes that contention, and assess the strength of the reasoning while a thinker may solely base his belief on faith or personal opinion.
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