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2019 Critical Thinking Blog

Drs. Linda Elder and Gerald Nosich, Senior Fellows of the Foundation for Critical Thinking, have regularly published new articles, essays, and various musings to The Center for Critical Thinking Community Online since mid-2019. This page lists posts that were made through the end of 2019.

While a few (mostly shorter) entries will be posted here in full, most complete posts (which can run multiple pages in length) will be found at the Community Online.

Entries from Other Years

FULL ENTRY: Letters from a Stoic - Linda Elder

Dec 13, 2019

In his book, Letters From A Stoic, Seneca [in addressing his student] says "Judging from what you tell me and from what I hear, I feel that you show great promise.You do not tear from place to place and unsettle yourself with one move after another. Restlessness of that sort is symptomatic of a sick mind. Nothing, to my way of thinking, is better proof of a well-ordered mind than a man's ability to stop just where he is and pass some time in his own company...[with regard to reading] You should extend your stay among writers whose genius is unquestionable, deriving constant nourishment from them if you wish to gain anything from your reading that will find a lasting place in your mind...So always read well-tried authors, and if at any moment you find yourself wanting a change from a particular author, go back to ones you have read before."

Taken from Letters from a Stoic by Seneca (circa 65 ACE). My version is published by Penguin Classics, NY: 2004, pp. 33-34)

Critical Writing - Gerald Nosich

Dec 10, 2019

[Some background: I am finishing a book on Critical Writing: Using the Concepts and Processes of Critical Thinking to Write a Paper. It will be published by Rowman and Littlefield, probably in Fall, 2020.  The following is adapted from an earlier draft of the book.]

An initial and crucial early step in writing a paper is to come up with the main thing you will be trying to say in it, often called a “thesis statement” (or sometimes just “thesis.”)  Usually the topic or idea a student starts with is an extremely general one.  A challenge then is, starting with a vague, unfocused topic, to find a specific, crisp, plausible thesis statement. Books on writing recommend a number of ways of finding a thesis statement. Usually they suggest brainstorming, or clustering ideas together, or free writing. Though these may sometimes result in a well-defined thesis, they are at best hit-or-miss.  They work by associative thinking, by letting ideas pop into your head, and—for students, often—waiting for inspiration to come and hoping for the best. . . .

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