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He articulated and defended the need in thinking for clarity and precision.He developed a method of critical thought based on the , in which every domain of the present world was subject to critique.Among these scholars were Colet, Erasmus, and Moore in England. Francis Bacon, in England, was explicitly concerned with the way we misuse our minds in seeking knowledge.
His implicit thesis was that established social systems are in need of radical analysis and critique.
The critical thinking of these Renaissance and post-Renaissance scholars opened the way for the emergence of science and for the development of democracy, human rights, and freedom for thought.
His method of questioning is now known as "Socratic Questioning" and is the best known critical thinking teaching strategy.
In his mode of questioning, Socrates highlighted the need in thinking for clarity and logical consistency.
Socrates set the agenda for the tradition of critical thinking, namely, to reflectively question common beliefs and explanations, carefully distinguishing those beliefs that are reasonable and logical from those which — however appealing they may be to our native egocentrism, however much they serve our vested interests, however comfortable or comforting they may be — lack adequate evidence or rational foundation to warrant our belief.
Socrates’ practice was followed by the critical thinking of Plato (who recorded Socrates’ thought), Aristotle, and the Greek skeptics, all of whom emphasized that things are often very different from what they appear to be and that only the trained mind is prepared to see through the way things look to us on the surface (delusive appearances) to the way they really are beneath the surface (the deeper realities of life).
Rather, he critically analyzed how it did function and laid the foundation for political thinking that exposes both, on the one hand, the real agendas of politicians and, on the other hand, the many contradictions and inconsistencies of the hard, cruel, world of the politics of his day Hobbes and Locke (in 16th and 17th Century England) displayed the same confidence in the critical mind of the thinker that we find in Machiavelli.
Neither accepted the traditional picture of things dominant in the thinking of their day.
Another significant contribution to critical thinking was made by the thinkers of the French Enlightenment: Bayle, Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Diderot.
They all began with the premise that the human mind, when disciplined by reason, is better able to figure out the nature of the social and political world.