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Book Review: A Workbook For Arguments – A Complete Course In Critical Thinking [2nd Ed.] by David R. Morrow & Anthony Weston

WorkBookForArguments1.jpg
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
March 1, 2017

Having read A Rulebook For Arguments by Anthony Weston and finding it quite useful, the prospect of reading a book along very similar lines but offering more expanded thought seemed quite intriguing.  Thankfully, the following book delivered in spades.

A Workbook For Arguments – A Complete Course In Critical Thinking by David R. Morrow & Anthony Weston is a very comprehensive, incisive, and detailed foray into what it takes to create a critical thinker.

Not only does A Workbook For Arguments contain the text from A Rulebook For Arguments with further extensions which help the reader become more robust with the content broken down, but it also features simple, and yet acute advice for the individual to become more apt in argumentation.

In conjunction with that the authors break down about half the exercises in the book with model responses in the back of the book.  Most of these exercise detail real world issues one is likely to hear often, detailing the pros and cons of whatever answers were employed, and how each of those may affect an individual or society as a whole.

Also included in the book is a rundown of some of the most common fallacies, which is also useful since fallacies are employed far more often than most realize, and aren’t really taught in school, when in all actuality they should be.  Knowing these fallacies is vital to understand not only someone else’s argument and their inherent flaws, but also in constructing and fine-tuning one’s own.

Arguably, the most important part of this book is that from the beginning it guides the reader through the steps in constructing a critical argument in a very logical fashion.  Consistently throughout the book, new topics continually build on the prior ones, rather than there being no coherent design.

Personally, this is the kind of book whose contents should be mandatory to learn in school and should definitely not be overlooked for homeschooling, autodidacts and self-teachers.

Simply stated, anyone who is seeking to employ critical thinking, use logic in argumentation and become more robust in most key aspects of argumentation should get this book, if not file it under careful consideration.  If you think about it, even if it was priced at double or triple the price, it would STILL be worth it, because college courses covering the same subject are often more costly, and offer barely a fraction of what’s here, IF they offer anything of such high quality.

If you happened to have read A Rulebook For Arguments, and appreciated it, then get this one.  You will not regret it.  It’s worth it in more ways individuals could imagine.
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Suggested Book Review Reading:

Socratic Logic V3.1 by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.
How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren
Philosophy 101 – An Introduction To Philosophy Via Plato’s Apology by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
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This article is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Zy Marquiez and TheBreakaway.wordpress.com.

Book Review: Socratic Logic [V3.1] by Peter Kreeft PhD

An Indispensable Piece For The Autodidact; A Vital Component To Education For Individuals Of All Ages

socraticlogic
TheBreakaway
Zy Marquiez
January 17, 2017

Having not taken a logic course since the university, attempting to find a book on logic that would be ‘worth its weight in gold’ took a bit of time, but this particular book has more than delivered in spades.

Socratic Logic by Peter Kreeft PhD is an essential reading for anyone who values the use of logic.  In fact, going one step further, this book should be read by everyone, because we could all benefit from it in many ways.  Mostly though, most of us have not been taught logic in elementary nor high school, and rarely in college, especially how it was taught in the past.   This is taking place because logic, as well as the trivium have been nigh completely removed from most school curriculums and when they do have these courses, they are merely a facsimile of it, and nowhere near the quality of logic taught in times past.  You can conjecture yourself why this has taken place.

Moving forward, this particular book showcases a very in-depth approach into all the nuances that logic involves, while also keeping it simple so to speak.   Describing the book as ‘simple’ might be a misnomer, but when compared to The Organon by Aristotle, which is a much more complex/demanding read, this seems like a ‘walk in the park’.

Kreeft makes it a point to give the individual everything they might need to comprehend logic, sprinkled generously with many real world examples, historical quotes and issues that will make the book quite practical in its application once the concepts are mastered and implemented into one’s repertoire.

Socratic Logic serves as an excellent jump-off point into the realm of logic due to the pragmatic approach taken by Kreeft.

As the author himself states, the book is: simple, user friendly, practical, linguistic, readable, traditional, commonsensical, philosophical, constructive, clearly divided, flexible, short, selective, interactive, holistic, and classroom oriented [if the individual so decides], and those descriptions were rather apt.

Conveniently, the book also features a differentiation where one can find the basic sections (B) and the philosophical sections (P) marked in the table of contents.  This helps greatly in focusing on whatever specific area the reader might want to hone their skills in.

Also of note, the book – as mentioned by Kreef – may be used in at least 10 different ways:

[1] the basics only
[2] the basic sections plus the philosophical sections
[3] the basic sections plus the more advanced sections in logic
[4] the basic sections plus the practical application sections
[5] the basic sections plus any two of these three additions
[6] all of the book
[7] all or some of it supplemented by a text in symbolic logic
[8] all or some of it supplemented by a text in inductive logic
[9] all or some of it supplemented by a text in rhetoric or informal logic
[10] all or some of it supplement by readings in and applications to the great philosophers

What one gathers from the book will depend greatly on how much time one chooses to spend on it.  Socratic Logic may be studied independently for an autodidact, or used for schooling.  The book can be studied in single class lessons, once a week class lessons, semester formats, etc.

Another useful element in the book is that if featured a healthy amount of exercises throughout the book in order to further buttress one’s understanding of the material.  This definitely helps hammer in the concepts shown in the book with precision.

Taking all into account, Socratic Logic should have been the book taught in school.  In fact, it should be taught to everyone because our society lacks logic in myriad ways.  Then again, that is what happens with the removal of classical education and logic from the common-to-the-rotten-core type of school system we’re all “lucky” to have.

In the information age not being educated and not knowing foundational pieces of essential knowledge such as logic that venture into every crevice of our lives is folly.

And if conventional schooling continues on the downhill grade it’s at, knowledge in areas such as this will be worth more than its weight in gold, and that’s not an understatement.  With the student loans costing over a trillion dollars, and with real education dissipating right before our eyes within the conventional establishment, taking your education into your hands is not only responsible, but vital.

To seek or further one’s education is a choice, and luckily Socratic Logic makes it an easy to choice to make.

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Suggested resources reviewed below for those seeking ideas to self-teach and become autodidacts:

7 Phenomenal Books For Homeschoolers, Self-Directed Learners & Autodidacts
13 Great Reasons To Study Logic
The Trivium – The Liberal Arts Of Grammar & Rhetoric by Sister Miriam Joseph Ph.D.
How To Read A Book – The Classic Guide To Intelligent Reading by Mortimer J. Adler & Charles Van Doren
Philosophy 101 – An Introduction To Philosophy Via Plato’s Apology by Peter Kreeft Ph.D.
The Complete Workbook For Arguments – A Complete Course In Critical Thinking [2nd Ed.] by David R. Morrow & Anthony Weston
The Imaginative Argument – A Practical Manifesto For Writers by Frank L. Cioffi
Sherlock Holmes – The Complete Stories by Arthur Conan Doyle

The following books reviewed below cover the disturbing issues within the public schooling system:

Rotten To The Common Core by Dr. Joseph P. Farrell Ph.D.& Gary Lawrence
Dumbing Us Down – The Hidden Curriculum Of Compulsory Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
A Different Kind Of Teacher – Solving The Crisis Of American Schooling by John Taylor Gatto
Weapons Of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto
Drilling Through The Core, by Sandra Stotsky & Contributors

 

How A Generation Lost Its Common Culture

young graduates students group

Source: MindingTheCampus.org
Professor Patrick Deneen
February 2, 2016

My students are know-nothings. They are exceedingly nice, pleasant, trustworthy, mostly honest, well-intentioned, and utterly decent. But their brains are largely empty, devoid of any substantial knowledge that might be the fruits of an education in an inheritance and a gift of a previous generation. They are the culmination of western civilization, a civilization that has forgotten nearly everything about itself, and as a result, has achieved near-perfect indifference to its own culture.

It’s difficult to gain admissions to the schools where I’ve taught – Princeton, Georgetown, and now Notre Dame. Students at these institutions have done what has been demanded of them:  they are superb test-takers, they know exactly what is needed to get an A in every class (meaning that they rarely allow themselves to become passionate and invested in any one subject); they build superb resumes. They are respectful and cordial to their elders, though easy-going if crude with their peers. They respect diversity (without having the slightest clue what diversity is) and they are experts in the arts of non-judgmentalism (at least publically). They are the cream of their generation, the masters of the universe, a generation-in-waiting to run America and the world.

Related: The Chaos of College Curricula

But ask them some basic questions about the civilization they will be inheriting, and be prepared for averted eyes and somewhat panicked looks. Who fought in the Peloponnesian War? Who taught Plato, and whom did Plato teach? How did Socrates die? Raise your hand if you have read both the Iliad and the Odyssey. The Canterbury Tales? Paradise Lost? The Inferno?

Who was Saul of Tarsus? What were the 95 theses, who wrote them, and what was their effect? Why does the Magna Carta matter? How and where did Thomas Becket die? Who was Guy Fawkes, and why is there a day named after him? What did Lincoln say in his Second Inaugural? His first Inaugural? How about his third Inaugural?  What are the Federalist Papers?

Some students, due most often to serendipitous class choices or a quirky old-fashioned teacher, might know a few of these answers. But most students have not been educated to know them. At best, they possess accidental knowledge, but otherwise are masters of systematic ignorance. It is not their “fault” for pervasive ignorance of western and American history, civilization, politics, art and literature. They have learned exactly what we have asked of them – to be like mayflies, alive by happenstance in a fleeting present.

Related: Courses without Content

Our students’ ignorance is not a failing of the educational system – it is its crowning achievement. Efforts by several generations of philosophers and reformers and public policy experts — whom our students (and most of us) know nothing about — have combined to produce a generation of know-nothings. The pervasive ignorance of our students is not a mere accident or unfortunate but correctible outcome, if only we hire better teachers or tweak the reading lists in high school. It is the consequence of a civilizational commitment to civilizational suicide. The end of history for our students signals the End of History for the West.

During my lifetime, lamentation over student ignorance has been sounded by the likes of E.D. Hirsch, Allan Bloom, Mark Bauerlein and Jay Leno, among many others. But these lamentations have been leavened with the hope that appeal to our and their better angels might reverse the trend (that’s an allusion to Lincoln’s first inaugural address, by the way). E.D. Hirsch even worked up a self-help curriculum, a do-it yourself guide on how to become culturally literate, imbued with the can-do American spirit that cultural defenestration could be reversed by a good reading list in the appendix. Broadly missing is sufficient appreciation that this ignorance is the intended consequence of our educational system, a sign of its robust health and success.

Books for Book-o-Phobes

We have fallen into the bad and unquestioned habit of thinking that our educational system is broken, but it is working on all cylinders. What our educational system aims to produce is cultural amnesia, a wholesale lack of curiosity, history-less free agents, and educational goals composed of content-free processes and unexamined buzz-words like “critical thinking,” “diversity,” “ways of knowing,” “social justice,” and “cultural competence.”

Our students are the achievement of a systemic commitment to producing individuals without a past for whom the future is a foreign country, cultureless ciphers who can live anywhere and perform any kind of work without inquiring about its purposes or ends, perfected tools for an economic system that prizes “flexibility” (geographic, interpersonal, ethical).

In such a world, possessing a culture, a history, an inheritance, a commitment to a place and particular people, specific forms of gratitude and indebtedness (rather than a generalized and deracinated commitment to “social justice”), a strong set of ethical and moral norms that assert definite limits to what one ought and ought not to do (aside from being “judgmental”) are hindrances and handicaps.

Regardless of major or course of study, the main object of modern education is to sand off remnants of any cultural or historical specificity and identity that might still stick to our students, to make them perfect company men and women for a modern polity and economy that penalizes deep commitments. Efforts first to foster appreciation for “multi-culturalism” signaled a dedication to eviscerate any particular cultural inheritance, while the current fad of “diversity” signals thoroughgoing commitment to de-cultured and relentless homogenization.

We Must Know…What?

Above all, the one overarching lesson that students receive is the true end of education: the only essential knowledge is that know ourselves to be radically autonomous selves within a comprehensive global system with a common commitment to mutual indifference. Our commitment to mutual indifference is what binds us together as a global people. Any remnant of a common culture would interfere with this prime directive:  a common culture would imply that we share something thicker, an inheritance that we did not create, and a set of commitments that imply limits and particular devotions.

Ancient philosophy and practice praised as an excellent form of government a res publica – a devotion to public things, things we share together. We have instead created the world’s first Res Idiotica – from the Greek word idiotes, meaning “private individual.” Our education system produces solipsistic, self-contained selves whose only public commitment is an absence of commitment to a public, a common culture, a shared history. They are perfectly hollowed vessels, receptive and obedient, without any real obligations or devotions.

They won’t fight against anyone, because that’s not seemly, but they won’t fight for anyone or anything either. They are living in a perpetual Truman Show, a world constructed yesterday that is nothing more than a set for their solipsism, without any history or trajectory.

I love my students – like any human being, each has enormous potential and great gifts to bestow upon the world. But I weep for them, for what is rightfully theirs but hasn’t been given. On our best days, I discern their longing and anguish and I know that their innate human desire to know who they are, where they have come from, where they ought to go, and how they ought to live will always reassert itself. But even on those better days, I can’t help but hold the hopeful thought that the world they have inherited – a world without inheritance, without past, future, or deepest cares – is about to come tumbling down, and that this collapse would be the true beginning of a real education.

Read More At: MindingTheCampus.org


Patrick Deneen is David A. Potenziani Memorial Associate Professor of Constitutional Studies at Notre Dame.