Revisiting the Art of Critical Thinking : A critique on the Argumentative Approach in College Philosophy




Bérubé, Micaël

Curious about the reasons behind the mitigated interest for the art of thinking, the author offers several hypotheses. He begins by sketching a portrait of the logic taught in CEGEPs, a logic associated to the argumentative approach based on the concept of argument. He describes the components of this approach supported with examples and a table using a tree diagram to allow for a detailed critique of it. As an alternative, the author suggests a theoretical approach designed to build and test an explanatory system, a theory, that is, a network of interconnected theses in a relationship not unlike that a living organism, which is illustrated in diagrams modeling a ‘nervous system’. Pointing out the inherent advantages of such an approach in the Philosophy course – simplicity, close connection to the actual thinking process, ability to impede unconsidered opinions and genuine usefulness for students – the author responds to various objections and proposes that the theoretical approach be tested by teachers in their classrooms. In ending, he shares a vision of philosophy adapted to the needs of students, pointing out the gaps that only a genuine philosophy, supported by theoretical logic, can bridge.


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