January 22, 2011

A Reasoned Mind

Critical thinking is the skill of deconstructing an idea, stripping it down to the essence of what it is, removing the false premises to identify the truth embedded in the argument. The process requires the removal of emotion from the discussion and reliance on sound judgment and logic from the beginning of the argument to the end. This skill is largely removed from the public discussion of any issue of importance. We don't ask in depth questions or demand substantive answers from our leaders.

On these lines, German pastor during Hitler's rise, Dietrich Bonhoeffer had this reputation.
Bonhoeffer openly thought things through and taught his students to do the same. They followed lines of reasoning to their thoroughness, so that nothing depended on mere emotion. He accorded theological ideas the same respect that his father accorded scientific ideas, or his brother accorded ideas of jurisprudence. Questions about the Bible and ethics and theology must be treated with the same rigorousness, and all the cant "phraseology" must be identified,exposed and cut away with and discarded." Students found Bonhoeffer extremely open-minded and patient, reserved, ready to consider every fresh problem put to him, taking even the remotest ideas into account." The students learned how to take the time to think things through to the end. His conservative nature, his scholarly eduation and his thoroughness prevented any quick result.
Isaiah 55 stated that Israel would fail for lack of knowledge. Some recent polls have close to 50% of America's youth seeing nothing wrong with socialism. If this was a free response question instead of a multiple choice version, would those who answered even have enough understanding to give a response based in fact? America has likewise succumbed to to materialistic passivity, failing to educate her youth and moving from critical thinking to ambivalent ignorance.

No comments: