Does reality cover anything beyond what we know of human life?

Reflecting on this unit’s lectures, (1)how do you respond when someone expresses a viewpoint different than yours? (2)Are you compelled to raise your voice, retreat, listen more closely or just become agitated?(2) How do others respond to you? (4)What are some effective ways for dealing with these differences? (5)What ideas do our lectures and readings give you? ssignment. Use the book “the 7 habits of highly effective people by stephen covey” to answer only question 4 along with lecture notes.
Thank you.
Lecture Notes below. Please use whatever information you have on critical thinking to answer if necessary.
Critical thinkers are:
Truth seeking
Critical thinkers want to know the truth. In their quest, they are willing to consider and even accept ideas that undermine their assumption or self-interest. These thinkers follow reason and evidence whenever they lead.
Open-minded
A skilled critical thinker not only recognizes that people disagree-but also values this fact. He or she respects the right of others to express different views. Beyond seeking out a variety of viewpoints and thinking for signs of bias.
Analytical
The critical thinker recognizes statements that call for evidence. He or she is alert to potential problems. In addition, the critical thinker foresees possible consequences of adopting a point of view.
Systematic
Staying organized and focused are two more qualities of a critical thinker. He or she is willing to patiently gather evidence, test, ideas and stay with a tough or complex question.
Self-confidence
Because he trusts his intellectual skills, the critical thinker is willing to seek truth, listen with an open-mind, and do the hard and useful work of thinking.
Inquisitive
The critical thinker wants to know. She is hungry for facts and concepts. He is willing to explore the universe of ideas even before he knows how to apply the insights gained.

Mature
As a mature person, the critical thinker possesses a wisdom born of experience. Understanding that a problem can have several solution- even solution that seem to contradict each other, he resist the desire to reach quick, superficial answers and is willing to suspend judgement when evidence is incomplete.

A well cultivated critical thinker:
1. Raises vital questions and problems, formulating them clearly and precisely.
2. Gathers and assesses relevant information, using abstract ideas to interpret effectively
3. Comes to well-reason conclusion and solution, testing them against relevant criteria and standards.

The info above is from a link:
Please use this link to view a presentation on: Critical Thinking
This material is adapted from: Foundation for Critical Thinking www.criticalthinking.org

Critical Thinking & Bias
The Popular Notion
You’ve probably heard this expression – critical thinking. Most websites describe it as using all your mental abilities – to notice, to analyze, to compare, to get examples, to point to evidence, and so on. Generally it means being keenly analytical and focused. You’ll also find courses on the Net (that cost you money) in how to think critically. Also, when you search the Net, you’ll find over 10 million websites that turn up!
I’ll let you explore these on your own. They have good things to say, but, as far as I have found so far, not one of them deals with the BIG PROBLEM in thinking:
We don’t want to think.
I’m not talking about motivation. Certainly, we need motivation when we’re tired or just lazy. And I’m not talking about deliberate retreats from thinking, for example, when we’re sunbathing or listening to a concert or enjoying our children.
Rather, I’m talking about certain questions we simply will not let surface. There are areas in all our lives where we feel some confusion deep down but we won’t take a look. We can feel that we have some questions, but we won’t let ourselves think about them. We are biased against them.
Here are five basic ways we refuse to entertain questions:[1]
1. Obsession
Everyone gets obsessed now and then, but for most people there are some obsessions that suppress the very questions that might heal their obsessions. They don’t want to think about their obsessions. For example,
An argumentative man may admit that he can be defensive, but prefer not to ask himself what he so compulsively defends. He may go to his grave consoled by having always steadfastly held his ground, but ignorant of having always desperately – but unsuccessfully — wanted his father to respect his opinions.
An anal-retentive mother, always telling everyone what they should be doing, will not wonder why a mess or disorder threatens her so. She may laugh at her obsession for order, but never reflect on why she’s so obsessed. Perhaps she has a daughter who suffers from unpredictable epileptic seizures, or perhaps she grew up under parents whose main mode of communication was yelling. She doesn’t want to take a clear-eyed look at her obsession.
Mr. Milquetoast finds comfort in going along with the flow, but he won’t hear his inner voices that see bad water ahead. It’s not that he is too stupid to foresee problems; rather, his obsession with pleasing others and calming relationships diverts his intelligence away from avoidable disasters in the future.
These neurotic habits may just irritate others, but they powerfully inhibit the questions that could liberate the obsessed person from this psychic prison. We can find patent evidence that obsessed people resist thinking about their obsession by visiting the waiting room of any psychologist’s office. They are aware enough to admit they have a problem, but it usually takes a therapist months of tactical talking to slip behind their refusal to think about their obsession.
2. Egotism
Where obsessed neurotics avoid learning indeliberately, through repression, egotists avoid learning deliberately, through suppression. (Notice that difference: Repression is a largely unconscious avoidance of certain questions, while repression is a deliberate refusal to consider certain questions.) Egotists earnestly ignore anything that might benefit others at their expense. Egotists are not stupid. They have the brains to make things better all around, but they dedicate their brains to getting just whatever they can for themselves. They suppress their imagination about the well-being of others. In short, egotists don’t want to think of what benefits other individuals.
We all experience egotistic impulses:
We really don’t listen much to others because we assume our preoccupations are more important.
We set boundaries to what we’ll think about: “I’m not the sort of person who would be concerned about the handicapped.”
We avoid thinking that our job perks may be excessive.
We connive to make comments only when it will advance our reputations, and we spontaneously suppress even thinking about what might make someone else look good.
Egotism is powerfully self-sustaining. Egotistical impulses set up defenses that grow stronger over time. The more frequently we obey these impulses, the more habitual our egotism becomes. The more intelligently we pursue this course, the more we rationalize an “I did it my way” approach to life. And the more successful we are in getting what we want, the more recognition we receive from others who themselves value egotism. As a result, we hardly have to think at all about suppressing selfless thoughts.
3. Loyalism
Where egotists avoid learning what benefits other individuals, loyalists avoid learning what benefits other groups. So loyalists are not egoists. To their fellows, they can appear quite selfless. They set aside personal interests for the sake of others, but only to a point the point where another group’s interests are at odds with their own. Their field of moral vision is wider than personal advantage, but it is still limited by a line that divides an “us” from a “them.” They don’t want to think of what benefits other groups.
Loyalists can belong to groups of any size. For example:
Loyal employees avoid wondering whether their company’s usefulness has come to an end – even when it has.
Loyal Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc., spontaneously defend their practices and priorities – often despite concrete evidence that greater spiritual depth is found in other congregations.
Loyal patriots measure their commitment by how effectively their nation dominates other nations.
Like egotism, loyalism is self-sustaining, but even more powerfully. Where egotism thrives on securing strong personal habits, loyalism thrives on strong social and cultural ties. Indeed, in an ironic twist of human affectivity, the very camaraderie that can liberate the egotist will only imprison the loyalist. Egoists have only themselves to overcome, and their liberation is usually welcomed by their friends. But loyalists have to overcome the loyalism of their friends, who tend to gang up on dissenters.
Loyalists thrive on cultural myths. We speak of these myths as “what we all know”: What White People Do. How Muslims Act. What Homosexuals Are Really After. How Communism Works. The simpler the picture, the stronger the myth and the more unrelated to actual lives. Plain experience doesn’t undermine the myth for loyalists because they already rely on the myth to filter their plain experiences of foreigners, letting in only the data that proves the myth to be true.

4.Commonsensism
By commonsensism I mean our tendency to trust our common sense as sufficient for all problems. It’s the bartender doling out advice with the beer; it’s the politician promising immediate action to voters’ problems. Ironically, common sense commonly lacks the sense to dig deep into the nature of things. Nor does common sense scan history very deeply. It hopes to change behaviors without bothering to change the minds that were shaped and strengthened by generations of forebears.
Typically, commonsensism shows in the assumption that it’s always better to take some action than no action at all. No doubt, tackling immediate problems is often better than sitting around planning global solutions. But is it better in every case? Do we not we make things worse when we tackle immediate problems without some knowledge of the general nature of the problem and its particular history?
Common sense looks to the practical, the interpersonal, the immediate, and the palpable. And these vary widely, place to place, culture to culture. Common sense easily spots the quick and dirty solution but is blind to the slower but cleaner view afforded by wider perspectives. In complicated situations, it doesn’t bother to peel back layers of erroneous assumptions among participants. It is chronically vulnerable to the Myth of the Simple – the assumption that progress must be based on simple strategies, simple principles. This is true of anyone who prides themselves in relying on common sense above all. They don’t want to think about the history or the complexity of situations.
Here are examples of how commonsensism appears in various people’s worlds:
Whose World The Simple Myth The Complex Reality
Automobile Sales-person “Our company will simply go out of business if we don’t sell more cars!” The purchase of an automobile is essentially an exchange agreement: The buyer gives the seller money in exchange for a safe and reliable car. What ensures a company’s long-term viability is that it effectively and consistently meets the terms of this agreement.
Taxpayer “Getting a tax refund is wonderful.” The IRS collected interest on their overpayments – money lost to the taxpayer.
Smoker “Not everyone who smokes gets cancer.” Common sense assumes that statistical odds are abstract speculations. In fact they are concrete and reliable predictors of events which, in this case, will likely bring on a host of avoidable problems, including death.
Anybody I can predict how well I would perform in any situation. You are poor at estimating your competence and the difficulty of complex tasks.[1]
A more immediate example is your experience of taking this course. You’ve made it this far, and it hasn’t been a leisurely saunter through a meadow.
It’s been an uphill climb, and you’ve often had to rest to get your bearings. You may be impatient to finish the course. All this is your direct experience of the bias of common sense against deep thinking. It infects everyone. It accounts for all kinds of disagreements about what to do, even among people deeply committed to doing what’s really better.

5.Secularism
In Latin, saeculum means an epoch or a lifetime – meaning time-bound human existence. In English, secular has come to mean worldly or at least non-religious. However, secularism is a bias in our intelligence that avoids thinking about anything that may be beyond or above the world of our experience. We can include it as a type bias against thinking because it is actually part of human nature to think about reality beyond this world:
1. Is beauty about anything beyond human life as we know it? We easily appreciate beauty; we can never have enough. Yet we can still avoid letting beauty ignite any desire in our hearts to see, hear, touch and live within an ultimate harmony in everything.
2. Does understanding relate to anything beyond human life as we know it? We know what it means to understand. It’s figuring how things might work and for what purpose. Yet, the universe itself understandable. It has an order, a complex of laws and probabilities that we can understand. Is our universe itself – including our understanding – the result of an understanding beyond the human?
3. Does reality cover anything beyond what we know of human life? Everything we know began. Each thing we know depended on something else to appear. Everything depends on other things to continue existing. Does reality include something that depends on nothing, and on which everything depends?
4. Does good refer only to the objects of our making and appreciating, or might our ability to make and appreciate be itself a good – made and appreciated by something beyond our human selves?
5. Is friendship restricted to our relations to one another or might the universe be place made by a lover for the sake of friendship? More urgently, our failure to achieve global peace prompts questions like these: Are we really self-sufficient or do we need to look beyond the human for help? Are the many disasters we witness in history the result of people assuming that humans are self-sufficient?
To be human is to feel inner desires for beauty, understanding, reality, goodness, and friendship, and to feel them in such a way that we always desire more. As we pursue them, we transcend the selves we are to become ever more artistic, understanding, creative, helpful, and friendly.
The question lurks in our very desires: Shall I let my self-transcendence go all the way? The prospect is indeed scary; holiness can be feared –which explains the allure of the secularism bias that says, “Well, I just won’t think about all that right now.”

The Effects of Not Wanting to Think
The key effect of these biases against thinking is an intellectual blind spot. When we don’t ask questions that are relevant, confusing situations continue to confuse and we don’t ask why. Problems remain unsolved even when everyone agrees that the problems exist. For example, consider the following concerns:
1. What’s going on in our schools, hospitals, and law courts?
2. What’s going on with my spouse, parents, or child?
3. What’s going on in my career, my health, my recreation?
4. What’s going on in health care insurance?
5. What’s going on in the Middle East?
What these situations mean is identical to what people mean by them, and what people mean by them is often distorted by bias in their intelligence. Meanings can be filtered by obsessions, distorted by egotism or loyalism, skimmed over by commonsensism, or assumed to be about human life only. So when we try to make things better but selectively turn our blind eye to certain aspects of things, good will and generosity are not enough. Things usually get worse.
In any discussion about situations like these, we will find people more or less blind in these ways. A few may see clearly the areas where their vision is blurred by bias, and another few may be totally blind to certain issues, but most of us have somewhat fuzzy images of our blind spots. So our deliberations drag on, and our resolutions seem fraught with compromise.
Worse yet, these biases have all the self-propagating features of viruses. Once they settle into a suitable host site, they infect our other intellectual organs. We get used to them. We consider them at first rather trivial, then somewhat benign, then a strength, and eventually a source of pride. Here we spread the virus to others. We brag about being a little compulsive, or “taking care of Number One,” or loyal to the death, or being someone of “total common sense,” or being completely “worldly-wise.” Parents teach these biases to their children; teachers press them on their students.
In any of these cases – obsession, egotism, loyalism, commonsensism, or secularism – the presence of intellectual blind spots explains why people with the same natural rights, the same equality of opportunity, the same intellectual potential, even the same commitment to religious values can come to very different conclusions about what is better.

Subjectivity and Objectivity
To think critically about bias solves an age-old problem about whether objectivity is better than subjectivity. We often hear people say, “That’s just your subjective opinion; you need to be objective.” The assumption here is that subjectivity is bad and objectivity is good.
But there’s a bug in the butter. Wouldn’t you trust a woman of intelligence and character? Wouldn’t you sit up and listen closely to a man who has written beautiful poetry or who just won the Noble Prize for Peace?
This is because we trust the subjectivity of people who are unbiased—whose attention doesn’t get fixated on petty things, whose concerns are as much for others as for themselves, whose efforts dig deeply into complex problems so as to heal them at their roots, who are aware of a desire for holiness. Wouldn’t you be inclined to think of them as objective persons?
The point is simple: Objectivity is not the opposite of subjectivity. It is the result of unbiased subjectivity. So when people tell you, “You’re just being subjective,” you can say, “So are you. And I trust your subjectivity to be objective because I think your view is unbiased.”
Critical Thinking
So how might our thinking be truly “critical?” Mainly by being self-critical. That is, the more we notice how obsession, egotism, loyalism, commonsensism, and secularism infect our natural thinking processes, the better able we are to face important questions ourselves. To think critically means monitoring our own thinking first to see if there are questions we won’t ask.
The more aware we are of how these five biases are in our own lives, the more quickly we will spot them in others. When people say or write things we find odd, or exaggerated, or self-serving, or overly dramatic, we can more quickly ask ourselves how they may be biased in their thinking.
So whenever you hear the expression, “Think Outside the Box,” translate this mentally as “Think Outside the Bias.” In other words, liberate your mental creativity by unveiling questions that you habitually cover over; aim to liberate the creativity of others by helping them bring their deeply buried questions up into the light.

The Critical Thinking Community
Bloom’s Taxonomy (Revisited)
In 1956 Bloom’s Taxonomy headed a group of educational psychologists who developed a classification of levels of intellectual behavior important in learning. This became a taxonomy including three overlapping domains; the cognitive, affective and psychomotor.
Cognitive learning is demonstrated by knowledge recall and the intellectual skills: comprehending information, organizing ideas, analyzing and synthesizing data, applying knowledge, choosing among alternatives in problem-solving and evaluating ideas or actions. This domain on the acquisition and use of knowledge is predominant in the majority of courses you take in college.
Bloom identified six levels within the cognitive domain, from the simple recall or recognition of facts, as the lowest level, through increasingly more complex and abstract mental levels, to the highest order which is classified as evaluation. The pyramid below represents a model of the revised Bloom’s taxonomy.

The Effects of Not Wanting to Think
Not wanting to think about certain things produces an intellectual blind spot in people. The effects of these blind spots are unsolved problems. For example, consider the following concerns:
• What’s going on in our schools, hospitals, and lawcourts
• What’s going on with my spouse, parents, or child
• What’s going on in my career, my health, my recreation.
What these situations mean is identical to what we mean by them, and what we mean by them is distorted by our obsessions, our egotism, our loyalism, and our activism. So when we try to make things better but selectively turn our blind eye to certain aspects of things, things usually get worse.
In any discussion about situations like these, we will find people more or less blind in these ways. A few may see clearly the areas where their vision is blurred by bias, and another few may be totally blind to certain issues, but most of us have somewhat fuzzy images of our blind spots. So our deliberations drag on, and our resolutions seem fraught with compromise.
Worse yet, these biases have all the self-propagating features of viruses. Once they settle into a suitable host site, they infect our other intellectual organs. We get used to them. We consider them at first rather trivial, then somewhat benign, then a strength, and eventually a source of pride. Here we spread the virus to others. We brag about being a little compulsive, or “taking care of Number One,” or loyal to the death, or being someone of “total common sense.” Parents teach these biases to their children; teachers press them on their students.
In any of these cases – neurosis, egotism, loyalism, or activism — the presence of intellectual blind spots explains why people with the same natural rights, the same equality of opportunity, the same intellectual potential, even the same commitment to religious values can come to very different conclusions about what is better.
Critical Thinking
So how might our thinking be truly “critical?” Mainly by being self-critical. That is, the more we notice how obsession, egotism, loyalism, and activism infect our natural thinking processes, the better able we are to face important questions ourselves. We can become critical of our own blind spots.
The more aware we are of how these four biases are in our own lives, the more quickly we will spot them in others. When people say or write things we find odd, or exaggerated, or self-serving, or overly dramatic, we can more quickly ask ourselves how they may be biased in their thinking.

With appreciation to Tad Dunne for another insightful lecture.

________________________________________
[1] I take this material from Bernard Lonergan’s Insight: A Study of Human Understanding. The Collected Works of Bernard Lonergan, v. 3. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1997. It originally appeared in 1957 (London: Longmans, Green & Todd). See “Dramatic Bias,” ch. 6, sec. 2.7, “Individual Bias,” “Group Bias,” and “General Bias,” ch. 7, secs. 6-8, pp. 214-26, 244-56. In later works, he refers to them variously as (1) “the neurotic,” (2) “the individual egotist,” (3) “group egoism,” and (4) “the overconfident shortsightedness of common sense.” See “Healing and Creating in History,” and “Mission and the Spirit,” in A Third Collection, (New York: Paulist Press. 1985. Pages 100-09, 23-34). For brevity, I have named them obsession, egotism, loyalism, and activism, respectively.

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