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Critical Thinking Skills

Clarify & deepen

Before acting, it is necessary to know how to clarify a situation, a problem, an objective, a directive. To do this, various "cognitive" skills will be implemented during the dialogue by all participants. 

Common sense is the best shared thing in the world" but we do not conduct our reason following the same paths said Descartes. However, for meaning to be clear, we must conduct our reason well.


Clarifying the dialogue consists of using the following operations:

  • analyze: break down a message into its simpler elements in order to recompose it and more easily grasp the whole

  • synthesize: collect a complicated speech to draw the essential and identify the intention of the person who carries it

  • to interpret: in order to be able to appropriate the meaning when it is general or vague

  • explain: to check that the meaning is shared by all

  • identify assumptions: so that the anchors of each appear through the speech and that everyone understands "from where we speak"

  • argue: in order to build sound judgments and avoid hasty judgments or gratuitous assertions

  • produce examples: to avoid abstract flights and return to the concrete

Update and resolve issues

Let's take the broad sense of the problem: a problem is considered to be anything that hinders a project. In the practice of dialogue, several projects are possible: to get to know each other better together, to deepen a subject, to solve a problem (precisely), to collect information, to validate a hypothesis, to make a decision, to build an action plan...


Therefore anything that gets in the way of these projects will be flagged as issues worthy of attention. Let's list the main problems we encounter during the dialogue:

  • form of the question itself (rhetoric, implicit presuppositions, manipulation, confusion, question disguised as an affirmation, question "from the judge or the policeman, question to attract attention...)

  • avoidance of the question out of fear (fear of giving the wrong answer, of appearing ridiculous, of offending others, of judging or being judged by others)

  • duplicity, hidden agenda, bad faith, lie

  • confusion, slippage of meaning, loss of meaning

  • emotional outburst, overreactivity

  • power struggles, ego conflicts, defense of self-image

  • inconsistency, logic errors, cognitive biases

  • force of habit, automatic thinking, magical thinking

  • obsessions

  • stressful emergency


It will therefore be a question, during the dialogue, of raising all these problems and dealing with them hic et nunc.


One of the principles of dialogue in philosophical practice is that someone's problem de facto becomes everyone's problem. Everyone is thus invited to identify it, contemplate it, even enjoy it. Then the problem is transformed into one or more questions to which answers will have to be provided, which we will call working hypotheses.


Each well-argued hypothesis is submitted to the filter of question-objections which will enable them to be explored in greater depth and their outlines to be distinguished. These hypotheses are then submitted for evaluation by the group, which will decide whether or not the proposed hypotheses are relevant.


Everyone is thus invited to see the problems and to see themselves if necessary as a problem for themselves or others (or both).

To question

The questioning is what allows to move the thought: any problem can be turned in the form of a question which will bring as many hypotheses to solve it.


Questioning is also learning to discover oneself and others, to clarify a situation, a problem, an attitude, an intention, an argument.


However, questioning is not easy because often we "load" our questions with too many things: we introduce presuppositions which strongly orient the answer, we drown the question by mixing it with an affirmation or worse a criticism that we hear in this way mitigate. However, a question should remain what it is: an invitation to deepen, to clarify, to precision, to action. A question is what is called a speech act: at the same time as the question is formulated, a requirement is posed to others: that of answering this question.

So a good question will be one in which the questioner's opinion does not come through.


The objection is a form of problematization but more specific: it is limited to seeing a problem as to the truth of a clear and determined hypothesis. To put it simply, an objection consists in saying what is false in a hypothesis and not, as is generally thought, in giving an opinion different from that proposed.

But of course in order to see the falsity of a hypothesis it is first necessary to explore it, to understand it, therefore in a certain way to see what in it is true or at least has meaning in the "system" of that who pronounces it. Because if we start from the presupposition that we always put a little of ourselves in our assertions, whatever they are, then to object to a hypothesis is also to discover the person who proposed it. In this we do not depart from the "know thyself" inscribed on the frontispiece of the temple of Delphi.


A concept is a word that synthesizes a proposition. It is therefore the result of an operation of synthesis, summary or choice among other words. For example, in relation to the proposition "the pupils do not dare to raise their hands because they are afraid of giving the wrong answer and of being badly seen by their classmates", the concept chosen by the subject could be: "self-image". , "fear", "judgment", "error". It is therefore more the process of choice that led to the concept than the concept itself that interests us. Because by making a choice the subject shows his preferences, his system of values, his anchorings which may not be elucidated. He reveals his being.


In this a concept does not have to be "philosophical". Any word is fine, provided it is general enough to be understood by common sense. In other words, a concept is neither more nor less than a common noun.

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