The second virtue of rationality is relinquishment. In order to truly pursue truth and improve our thinking, we must be willing to let go of our preconceived notions and beliefs. It requires humility and a willingness to admit when we are wrong. Relinquishment is about being open to new ideas and evidence, and being willing to change our minds based on that information.

Alessio Frateily

Alessio Frateily

Aug 29, 20237 min read

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The second virtue of rationality is relinquishment. In order to truly pursue truth and improve our thinking, we must be willing to let go of our preconceived notions and beliefs. It requires humility and a willingness to admit when we are wrong. Relinquishment is about being open to new ideas and evidence, and being willing to change our minds based on that information.

It is important to recognize that our beliefs are not fixed and set in stone. We should constantly question and reevaluate our beliefs in light of new evidence. This can be uncomfortable and challenging, as it requires us to confront our own biases and challenge deeply ingrained beliefs. But it is only through this process of relinquishment that we can truly grow and improve our thinking.

The third virtue of rationality is lightness. This refers to the ability to let go of attachments and biases that can cloud our thinking. Lightness is about being able to approach a problem or question with an open mind, free from preconceived notions or emotional baggage.

When we approach a problem with lightness, we are able to see it from different perspectives and consider alternative solutions. We are not weighed down by our own biases or attachments to a particular outcome. This allows us to think more creatively and critically, and to consider possibilities that we may not have otherwise considered.

The fourth virtue of rationality is evenness. This refers to the ability to maintain a balanced and objective perspective in our thinking. Evenness is about being able to consider all relevant information and arguments, without giving undue weight to one side or the other.

When we approach a problem or question with evenness, we are able to evaluate the evidence and arguments in a fair and impartial manner. We are not swayed by emotions or personal biases, but instead rely on logic and reason to guide our thinking. This allows us to make more informed and rational decisions, and to avoid the pitfalls of cognitive biases.

The fifth virtue of rationality is argument. This refers to the ability to construct and evaluate logical arguments. Argument is about being able to present our ideas and beliefs in a clear and coherent manner, and to critically analyze the arguments of others.

When we engage in argumentation, we are able to test the validity and soundness of our own beliefs, and to challenge the beliefs of others. It is through argumentation that we can refine and improve our thinking, by exposing our ideas to scrutiny and critique. This requires intellectual honesty and a willingness to engage in constructive debate and discussion.

The sixth virtue of rationality is empiricism. This refers to the reliance on evidence and observation in our thinking. Empiricism is about basing our beliefs and conclusions on verifiable facts and data, rather than on speculation or intuition.

When we approach a problem or question with empiricism, we seek out relevant information and evidence, and evaluate it objectively. We are not swayed by personal anecdotes or unverified claims, but instead rely on scientific methods and rigorous analysis. This allows us to make more informed and reliable judgments, and to avoid the pitfalls of bias and subjective opinion.

The seventh virtue of rationality is simplicity. This refers to the preference for simple explanations and solutions over complex ones. Simplicity is about seeking the most straightforward and parsimonious explanation, rather than resorting to unnecessary complexity.

When we approach a problem with simplicity, we strive to find the simplest explanation that can account for all the relevant facts and evidence. This allows us to avoid unnecessary complications and assumptions, and to make our thinking more efficient and effective. Simplicity also helps us communicate our ideas more clearly and persuasively.

The eighth virtue of rationality is precision. This refers to the importance of clear and precise thinking and communication. Precision is about being able to define our terms and concepts accurately, and to convey our ideas with clarity and specificity.

When we approach a problem with precision, we strive to use language and concepts in a precise and unambiguous manner. This allows us to avoid misunderstandings and miscommunication, and to convey our ideas more effectively. Precision also helps us to think more clearly and logically, by forcing us to clarify our thinking and eliminate any vague or ambiguous ideas.

The ninth virtue of rationality is rigor. This refers to the importance of thoroughness and attention to detail in our thinking. Rigor is about being meticulous in our analysis and evaluation of evidence, and in our reasoning and argumentation.

When we approach a problem with rigor, we carefully examine all the relevant evidence and consider all possible implications and consequences. We do not take shortcuts or make hasty judgments, but instead engage in a rigorous process of inquiry and analysis. This allows us to make more well-founded and reliable conclusions, and to avoid the pitfalls of sloppy or careless thinking.

The tenth virtue of rationality is patience. This refers to the ability to suspend judgment and delay making conclusions until we have gathered sufficient evidence and considered all relevant factors. Patience is about being able to tolerate uncertainty and ambiguity, and to resist the temptation to jump to premature conclusions.

When we approach a problem with patience, we are willing to take the time to gather all the necessary information and consider all possible perspectives. We do not rush to judgment or make decisions based on incomplete or biased information. This allows us to make more informed and rational decisions, and to avoid the pitfalls of impulsive or rash thinking.

The eleventh virtue of rationality is humility. This refers to the recognition that our knowledge and understanding is limited, and that we are fallible beings who are prone to error and bias. Humility is about being open to the possibility that we may be wrong, and being willing to learn from our mistakes.

When we approach a problem with humility, we are willing to listen to the perspectives and ideas of others, and to consider the possibility that they may have valuable insights or information. We do not cling stubbornly to our own beliefs or dismiss the ideas of others out of hand. This allows us to be more open-minded and receptive to new ideas and information, and to avoid the pitfalls of arrogance and intellectual closed-mindedness.

The twelfth and final virtue of rationality is integrity. This refers to the consistency and coherence of our thinking and beliefs. Integrity is about being true to our own principles and values, and being willing to act in accordance with them.

When we approach a problem with integrity, we strive to ensure that our beliefs and actions are in alignment with our values and principles. We do not compromise our integrity or sacrifice our principles for the sake of convenience or expediency. This allows us to make decisions and take actions that are consistent and congruent with our own sense of moral and ethical responsibility.

In conclusion, critical thinking is an essential skill that can be developed and cultivated through the application of certain frameworks and virtues. The Paul-Elder Critical Thinking Framework and the Twelve Virtues of Rationality provide valuable guidelines and principles for improving the quality of our thinking.

To become better critical thinkers, we can apply the following actionable advice:

1. Embrace curiosity and actively seek out new knowledge and information. Be open to questioning your own beliefs and be willing to relinquish them if they are proven to be incorrect.

2. Practice intellectual humility and recognize that you are fallible and prone to biases. Be open to feedback and different perspectives, and be willing to learn from your mistakes.

3. Strive for clarity, precision, and rigor in your thinking and communication. Define your terms clearly, use language precisely, and thoroughly evaluate evidence before drawing conclusions.

By incorporating these principles into our thinking and decision-making processes, we can become more effective critical thinkers and make better-informed decisions. Critical thinking is a skill that can be developed and honed over time, and by practicing these virtues, we can improve the quality of our thinking and enhance our ability to solve complex problems.

Resource:

  1. "Paul-Elder Critical Thinking Framework — University of Louisville Ideas To Action", https://louisville.edu/ideastoaction/about/criticalthinking/framework (Glasp)
  2. "The Twelve Virtues of Rationality", https://www.readthesequences.com/The-Twelve-Virtues-Of-Rationality (Glasp)

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