[C10] History of critical thinking

Critical thinking is now regarded as one of the central aims of education. But how did the concept of critical thinking come about? Many people think that the idea of critical thinking can be traced back to the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates, who often asked questions that challenged people's beliefs. As for the English term "critical thinking", a popular view is that it was coined by the American educator and philosopher John Dewey, who wrote about critical thinking and reflective thinking in his 1910 book How We Think.

However, the actual history of critical thinking is somewhat more complicated. First, many of the so-called Presocratic philosophers were reflective and critical in their discussion about the nature of the universe. So we might regard them as even earlier pioneers of critical thinking. Second, John Dewey not only used the term "critical thinking" before 1910, but there were also other authors who used it before him in their writings about education and philosophy. The meaning of "critical thinking" at the turn of the twentieth century was shaped by various traditions of linguistic usage, including literary criticism, science and medicine, and Kantian philosophy.

For more detailed discussion about the history of critical thinking, please refer to this article by Dr. Joe Lau:

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