That history allows us to distinguish two contradictory intellectual tendencies: a tendency on the part of the large majority to uncritically accept whatever was presently believed as more or less eternal truth and a conflicting tendency on the part of a small minority — those who thought critically — to systematically question what was commonly accepted and seek, as a result, to establish sounder, more reflective criteria and standards for judging what it does and does not make sense to accept as true.
Our basic concept of critical thinking is, at root, simple.
Shoddy thinking is costly, both in money and in quality of life.
Excellence in thought, however, must be systematically cultivated.
The concept of critical thinking we adhere to reflects a concept embedded not only in a core body of research over the last 30 to 50 years but also derived from roots in ancient Greek.
The word ’’critical’’ derives etymologically from two Greek roots: "kriticos" (meaning discerning judgment) and "kriterion" (meaning standards).
It involves getting into the habit of reflectively examining our impulsive and accustomed ways of thinking and acting in every dimension of our lives.
All that we do, we do on the basis of some motivations or reasons.
It is possible to live, in other words, without really taking charge of the persons we are becoming; without developing or acting upon the skills and insights we are capable of.
However, if we allow ourselves to become unreflective persons — or rather, to the extent that we do — we are likely to do injury to ourselves and others, and to miss many opportunities to make our own lives, and the lives of others, fuller, happier, and more productive.