Intellectual Perseverance Definition Essay

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Critical thinking is the ability to evaluate observable phenomena, research findings, data, sources, and opinions objectively and independently, regardless of outside influence or any personal bias interfering with your judgment about something/someone or a specific issue or source. A good critical ‘’thinker improves the quality of his or her thinking by skilfully taking charge of the structures inherent in thinking and imposing intellectual standards upon them.’’

The first quote above involves three interwoven phrases and suggests that critical thinking analyses evaluate and lastly improve our way of thinking. Paul and Elder suggested a framework of thinking, made up of three components; The elements of thought, the intellectual standards, and the intellectual traits. The elements of thought are parts of thinking we use when discussing something to grasp the topic. An example of this is; purpose, meaning that we should set a goal for a particular topic, attempting to figure out something, which requires questioning facts and beliefs. One’s point of view, such as the perspective one takes whilst discussing a particular topic. For instance, we can think about the educational system from a student’s point of view rather than the teacher's. Gathering related evidence that may support the arguments we come up with, make assumptions or hypotheses about a particular topic, and interpret our conclusions. According to Paul and Elder, it is essential that an individual can identify these elements of thought and then later assess his/ her use of these parts of thinking.

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The ability to master the nine Universal intellectual standards is an asset to a good critical thinker. If all of these standards are infused and become part and parcel of one's thinking it is assured that one would be able to reason things out better. Thus, these intellectual standards reflect the reasoning level/ quality of a particular individual. Clarity, accuracy, precision, relevance, depth, breadth, Logic, significance, and Fairness are all intellectual standards of critical thinking. To evaluate our elements of thought we should ask several questions based on these intellectual standards such as; Is the vocabulary of a particular source understandable? / could you give an example? (Clarity). Are there any sources to verify whether that’s true or not? /Is the statement based on facts? (Accuracy). Could you be more specific? For example, asking what gender I’m talking about (Precision). How is it helping us with a particular issue? / is this relevant to the question? (Relevance). Which problems are we taking into account, family, education? (Depth). Were all viewpoints considered? One should consider alternative and opposing viewpoints (Breadth). Does it make sense? / Are the thoughts well combined and do they mutually support each other to make sense? (Logic). Which of these facts are most crucial? We may have many ideas however these may not be equally important (Significance). Am I taking into consideration other’s opinions or thinking? One should keep in mind others' opinions and not have personal vested interests (Fairness).

Furthermore, Intellectual Traits are the result of consistent application of the Intellectual standards (which were previously discussed) to the ‘parts’/ elements of thinking. The Intellectual Traits are; Intellectual Humility, Intellectual Courage, Intellectual Empathy, Intellectual Integrity, Intellectual Perseverance, Confidence in Reason, and Fair-mindedness. Intellectual humility is being open-minded, the ability to accept that at times you may be wrong, as at times we unconsciously approach different situations the same way based on our knowledge. The world we live in Is very complex, therefore there are many perspectives on a given situation. If we don’t take into consideration others' perspectives, we make many errors and keep ourselves from learning and growing intellectually. Intellectual courage is addressing particular ideas even though it might imply, getting out of your comfort zone or your pre-assumptions. Empathy is when we get into the shoes of others to understand how they might feel, therefore intellectual empathy is reasoning from others' points of view. Intellectual integrity is having the courage to follow certain reasons and evidence wherever they may lead to reach the best decision in any given situation. Intellectual perseverance is the ability to remain focused or determined regardless of the many obstacles one may face. Rational thinking is motivated by individuals being encouraged to voice their reasons resulting in more confidence in their reasoning. One last intellectual trait suggested by Paul and Elder is, fair-mindedness. This trait is important in developing the ability to confront reasonings and situations with a fair look, without the influence of our biases of personal knowledge.

To sum this all up, Repetitive, habitual use of these intellectual traits, helps in intellectual growth and one would be able to gather relevant information and be able to asses and interpret it effectively, one will not think twice to raise vital questions and question those with more knowledge. One will be able to come up with reasonable conclusions to any given situation, but most importantly one would be very objective and open-minded when dealing with different complex problems or when communicating with others.

As the quote suggests, critical thinking makes ‘’thinking better’’. However, I’m sure that many of us one day or another have made a quick judgment about a person or a particular situation, based on what others have told us. Then when we get to know this particular person better or hear another side of the story, we regret our decisions. Like personal biases, there are a variety of other barriers that hold us back from thinking critically, and at times it may be very difficult to acknowledge these as they are unconscious. Below I’ll be outlining some of the most common barriers. Firstly, moving outside our comfort zone. Having a clear set of beliefs, worldviews, and opinions may help us to make sense of what’s going on around us, and provide comfort and guidance, preventing individuals from questioning or moving forward even when new evidence or facts emerge that place these particular beliefs in question. An example of this is Galileo’s conflict with the catholic church in the 1540s. Galileo proposed the Heliocentric theory, the church felt threatened by his view of the universe and stubbornly rejected his theory and clung to the belief that Earth was at the center of the universe. This not only made them personally sort of ignorant but inhibited the common people’s intellectual growth, as they kept on believing that the sun orbits around the earth. Reluctance to criticize those with more expertise is another barrier to critical thinking some students think it is rude to question academics who they know are more expert than them. However, nowadays critical analysis is an expected activity in most universities. This reluctance to criticize those with more expertise is very worrying, especially in societies in general. For instance, governments must be criticized by the people, or else these will never improve and only further harm societies. This is why we should never accept authority without question. Reluctance in general leads to insufficient focus and attention to detail, lack of practice, and generalizations. This will only result in poor criticism and passive societies. Ignorance is one of the most harmful barriers, as it only leads to fabricated/ made-up information and this may be very costly not only to a particular individual but to society in general. Another common barrier is mistaking information for understanding. This suggests that many of us prefer facts and straight answers rather than learning the skills that help us make well-founded judgments, without taking into consideration that there may be more than 1 answer/ solution to a question/ situation. Students in school tend to mistake information for understanding, as they only study to pass exams and not to learn and develop intellectually.

There are many practical ways and means to foster critical thinking and eliminate its barriers such as recognizing & identifying contradictions and inconsistencies, evaluating arguments and interpretations, detecting personal bias, analyzing meanings of words and phrases in-depth, looking for generalizations, questioning beliefs, and most importantly practice such as being involved in conferences and workshops. Educational systems should also foster critical thinking strategies to encourage students to think critically and not be passive, especially nowadays with the vast social media influence which makes us passive consumers of the media. Teachers should ask frequent questions, however, these shouldn’t have a yes or a no answer, they should be open-ended questions to encourage debate in class. Students not only grow intellectually but will learn to listen to others' perspectives and criticize others if they don’t agree.

By now I have outlined that critical thinking is essential for individuals to grow intellectually and move forward. If our ancestors haven’t been critical in the past many advancements, such as those in technology; the internet which facilitates communication, means of transport; such as cars and planes, advancements in medicine which improved our health and increased life span and social advancements such as rise of democracies or the declaration of human rights.

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Intellectual Perseverance Definition Essay. (2024, February 28). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 23, 2024, from
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