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Thinking Your Way to Freedom

Thinking Your Way to Freedom: A Guide to Owning Your Own Practical Reasoning

Illustrations by Dirk van Stralen
Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Temple University Press
Pages: 304
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  • Book Info
    Thinking Your Way to Freedom
    Book Description:

    Thinking Your Way to Freedomis a critical-thinking textbook with a difference. Rather than focusing exclusively on improving college students' academic achievement, Susan Gardner seeks to dramatically change how students think through issues that are important in their lives beyond school. Gardner created 66 original and entertaining comic strips-featuring her dogs, Diva and Ben-that add a light touch as they encourage intellectual and personal autonomy. Through a clear step-by-step method of practical reasoning, students are taught how to think impartially and how to neutralize invisible biases that limit their freedom of thought and action. With the help of Diva and Ben, readers learn to evaluate the strengths of arguments and to recognize fallacies, all the while avoiding the paralyzing effects of relativism.

    Thinking Your Way to Freedom includes the writing of short essays so that students can improve their critical thinking and writing at the same time. A Teacher's Manual for this book will be available online.

    eISBN: 978-1-59213-868-5
    Subjects: Philosophy, Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. list of comics
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. introduction
    (pp. 1-6)

    How is it possible that even though what we do has lifelong implications for ourselves as individuals, for our loved ones, and for the communities of which we are members, so little of our formal education focuses on analyzing, let alone upgrading, our practical reasoning—the reasoning that leads to action? Why is this the case?

    The answer may lie in the fact that most of us assume that we humans are free in the sense of being self-legislating because of our power of thinking per se. This belief is false. Although the emergence of symbolic language has moved humans...


    • section 1 The Possibility of Freedom
      (pp. 9-22)

      If educators followed all reasonable advice about what they should teach students, they could fill their students’ time with more educational hours and days than they do now, and they would still have suggestions left over. So when the question arises about what students should learn, it is important that it be couched in terms of necessary conditions. We need to ask, “What is it that is essential that students learn? What is it that, if it were left out, educators could be charged with being irredeemably irresponsible?”²

      Obviously, the knowledge and fundamental skills that are necessary for making a...

    • section 2 Impartial Thinking
      (pp. 23-46)

      Impartiality is necessary in order to ensure that the answers that you give to the value questions with which you are confronted are your answers and not answers that have been borrowed—subliminally or otherwise—from your parents, peers, reference groups, or culture. Impartiality, in other words, requires that you learn how to eliminate your own biases. Thus, the questions that now require our attention are these:

      1. How can we free our decision making from the undue influence of the external environment?

      2. How can we know if we have brought that about? Since all thinking is, as it were, invisible,...


    • section 1 Learning the Intricacies of Practical Reasoning
      (pp. 49-188)

      Intelligence can be described as the capacity to efficiently locate means that will lead to ends that are already predetermined. Wisdom, by contrast, can be defined as the capacity to choose a coherent set of ends, or values, that will lead to the creation of who it is you want to become. Treatises that focus on theoretical reasoning do so with the view to enhancing your intelligence; treatises such as this one that focus on practical (or value) reasoning do so with the view to enhancing your wisdom. Wisdom and autonomy can be viewed as flip sides of the same...

    • section 2 Thinking and Writing Your Way to Truth
      (pp. 189-206)

      Your biases are not your own. What you believe to be true may very well be a function of the massive persuasive forces to which you are constantly subjected. If you seek the dignity of becoming your own person, then you must strive to wash out bias. You can do this only by subjecting all opinions, claims, and judgments to the strongest possible opposition and then embracing the position that is least vulnerable to falsification by counterexample. In other words, you must seek to embrace that which ranks highest on a global sufficiency scale—i.e., the position that is the...

  8. appendix I Answers to Exercises
    (pp. 207-232)
  9. appendix II Analyzing Arguments
    (pp. 233-254)
  10. appendix III Examples of Good Arguments
    (pp. 255-264)
  11. appendix IV What ʺGoodʺ and ʺPoorʺ Thinkers Look Like
    (pp. 265-266)
  12. appendix V Answers to Pre-tests and Post-tests
    (pp. 267-268)
  13. notes
    (pp. 269-272)
  14. glossary
    (pp. 273-276)
  15. index
    (pp. 277-280)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 281-282)