The Psychology of Judgmentalism – 3

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Terry Cooper goes on to distinguish between critical thinking and thinking critically. He offers ten features that distinguish the two. Although I won’t cover each here, let me say at the outset that they are from Table 2.2 on page 38 of his book. He says critical thinking is a rational process, one that is capable of both affirming and correcting. It is patient and scrupulously fair, able to critique its own position. Critical thinking can avoid or refrain from emotionality and recognizes when it crosses the line and ceases to be critical (and moves into being “hypercritical”). In contrast, thinking critically is presented as an emotional process that looks to condemn and dismiss, often rushing to judgment, which involves but is not limited to blurring ideas and personalities together in its condemnation of the person rather than the idea or behavior. It is “emotional reactivity masquerading as rationality,” that is “restless until it demolishes” and sees its own process as “above criticism” (p. 38).
For Reflection: Does the distinction Cooper makes between Critical Thinking and Thinking Critically seem helpful to you? How so? In what areas have you seen these differences highlighted?

2 Comments

  1. Cooper’s distinctions between critical thinking and thinking critically seem helpful, and could be used as guidelines when one needs to make judgments. The distinctions can serve as checks to help to keep yourself from being judgmental, because it can be easy to slip into this mode of thinking, particularly in areas that you are passionate. One of the distinctions that stuck out the most to me was that critical thinking knows when to stop, but thinking critically does not stop until it destroys. An area that comes to mind where this is demonstrated is in the extreme pro-life groups that set fire to offices or murder the doctors. Whereas those who critically think about this issue may be pro-life, disagreeing with those who are pro-choice and even likely feeling it is wrong, they can still separate the person from his/her actions and recognize the need to stop and not destroy the person.

  2. I appreciated the distinction, too. They might serve as a useful check if one is at risk of moving too far to an extreme stance and way of relating to others. People are probably at greatest risk in areas of their passion, right?

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