I've heard it said that Civility may be defined as:
Consciously motivated organizational behavior that is ethical in submission to a higher power (even as an imagined perfect observer).
Love - the will to give of one's self for the sake of another's spiritual (or psychological) growth and well being.
Critical thinking must involve a sufficient amount of bracketing of prior assumptions and the willingness to investigate what might reside in the
realm of an unknown unknown (what we don't yet know we don't even know) free from any sort of contempuous bias prior to investigation. It must deny
ignorance, one's own, in order to cultivate an open mind capable of recieving new information, and evaluating new paradigms. "Myths" in this regard
can therefore be highly informative, particularly those formed around universal principals of truth, justice, Civility and love.
If critical thinking is unwilling to move into novelty, then it is not critical thinking, being blind to new domains of understanding, by cowering in
the dim light of the already known, which represents a slice of reality so thin, relative to all that can be known and understood, as to constitute
ignorance, but an ignorance which is NOT bliss since it's motive force or catalyst is driven by nothing more than ego and the limitations of the self,
and will therefore become hostile when threatened with any new information which might overturn a previously cherished worldview ie: truth is only
relative, and there is no connecting principal, for example.
I think it's also important that if we are to be "smart" that we have the capacity to be not only open minded, but authentic; authentic about what we
know, don't know, in some cases can't know, instead of simply pretending we are smarter than we really are, as if to impress someone - that cannot
bring about critical thinking either, and again gives birth only to ignorance, even intollerance.
Here's a piece of critical thinking for people to ponder - intents and purposes are made apparent in action, even in the form of words typed on a
screen. The human being has an absolutely tremendous evaluative skillset, which see's THROUGH people, either when in person via body language, or even
in "word palaces" like ATS, where we can read between the lines between the lines, to see, not only the mind of a person, but even their heart, and
yes, their capacity for critical thinking.
There's just so much information available, and so much we do not know, even about the human being ourselves and our place in the grand scheme of
things. If critical thinking might help us re-evaluate the entire context and frame of reference for the human being and the "self" within a newfound
Civility, and drive a mutual inquiry capable of bracketing the self long enough to look and listen and learn and better understand, then critical
thinking and reason itself might be the great hero and the redeemer of human history, the logos who's root, is logic.
The only thing we must not do however, is to ASSUME based merely on prior entrenched belief systems while regurgitating standardized, pat responses,
which do not serve the process of either authentic communication or mutual understanding, and which therefore result in a breakdown of Civility, of
love (the "glue" of Civility), while leaving little more than ignorance, in it's wake.
Critical thinking, is a foundation for Civility, which by its very nature ought to instill the willingness and the discipline to "bracket" ego-self,
long enough to really listen, evaluate, and even try on new ideas, while weighing them in the scales of all our prior knowledge and "learning" and
then testing them in the crucible of our own faculty for critical thinking and reason.
And of course the more we know, the more we come to know that we do not know.
So I say that a "beginners mind" (Suzuki Roshi) is a prerequisit for critical thinking, because only a beginners mind can be a truly discerning mind,
capable of slicing through BS in search of truth, and real understanding, of the wholly authentic and not the pretend variety, which gets old really
fast, and is so transparent it's insulting to everyone else's critical faculty, reason, and to their innate sense of Civility and fairness and what is
and is not reasonable.
It's always apparent at the level of the activity, in our case, verbal written communication, which although it contains significant gaps based on
many variables, is nevertheless highly informative, if some people only knew the degree to which this is the case..
edit on 23-1-2011 by NewAgeMan because: (no reason given)