Вы находитесь на странице: 1из 11

Pytheas

Social &
Political
Review

March 2012

In Search for Excellence through Critical


Thinking & Thought Leadership

By Harris A. Samaras

www.pytheas.net
Pytheas
Social &
Political
Review

About the Author Harris A. Samaras

An Economist and presently the Chairman & CEO of Pytheas, an international investment management
organization, Harris has also worked with the Bank of America Group, Thomson Financial BankWatch, and
Moodys Investors Service. His expertise lies primarily in the areas of investment and corporate banking,
private equity and finance, corporate restructuring, risk management and business development, strategic
advisory and thought leadership. His research and extensive publications in these areas range across practice
rather than theory, economic and business thought, entrepreneurship and geopolitics.

He has been an adviser to various governments, central banks, financial institutions, and other corporates and
has been a member of the board of directors of multinational organizations.

Copyright 2012 Pytheas Limited 18 March 2012 2


Pytheas
Social &
Political
Review

The men below statesmen, philosophers, explorers, scientists, generals, inventors, artists,
businessmen have been accused or characterized at some point of their lives as dreamers,
misfits, unreal, unusual, odd, strange, bizarre, enigmatic, eccentric, egocentric, blasphemous,
heretic, radical, even insane and crazy... What is it that they have in common?

Solon Socrates Pericles Pytheas

Leonardo da Vinci Galileo Galilei Thomas Edison Albert Einstein

George Soros Steve Jobs Bill Gates Could it be you?

Intelligence? Yes they can be characterized as intelligent, but Attila the Hun, Ataturk and
Hitler are reported to have been intelligent but their leadership caused the suffering of
millions...

Success? Yes, but success can be very subjective... and, one can almost be certain that their
road to success has not necessarily been to the liking of all those that they came across...
and, the decisions they have taken down the road have indirectly or directly changed the lives
of many and not always for the better...

Lets see,

Solon (638 - 558 BC), the Athenian statesman, lawmaker and poet, the reformer, one of the
seven wise men of Athens, credited with having laid the foundations of Athenian democracy,
believed that a lawmaker should work only on laws that were possible to improve without a
total revolution, the best that they are possible to receive.

At a time when Athens was in disarray poor farmers were becoming serfs of the rich when
they could not pay their debts, and the landless were enslaved and sold abroad; territorial
groups could not be controlled by the weak central government so the city split into factions
Solon took it upon himself to try to fix the city single-handed. He realized that he had to

Copyright 2012 Pytheas Limited 18 March 2012 3


Pytheas
Social &
Political
Review

create a balance between the classes. The vehicle for that balance was the creation of a
middle class. And he wrote the constitution.
It is the
Nothing can withstand the challenge of new times and the power of responsibility of the
state to provide
critical thinking, he argued, and it is critical thinking that will
means and ways for
eventually direct change to the right path. And the constitution is its people to think,
change towards the right path... not think for them

Solon writes in one of his poems:

The New Dimension is peaceful, and all work here just as they do on Earth. Its a
place where learning, knowledge and wisdom are essential to that work.
It is not corrupt like the Earth Plane, and there they are free from all of the
corruption that exists on Earth today.
We created this New Dimension for growing and learning, as we did Earth.
Minds here are advanced, as the knowledge that was acquired on Earth is now
attuned to the minds of New Dimension souls.
It is a slow process for all souls minds to learn and absorb knowledge and
wisdom.
Love is the answer for all kinds of souls to advance in the Universe. Through love,
knowledge and wisdom are well earned.
Critical thinking, the Earth Plane has gotten off track, forgetting or ignoring this
most important key to progress.
We all here in the Universe is working so hard with Earth souls to remind them
that their purpose on Earth is to advance.
First, they must love themselves if they are going to love all of those around
them, if they are going to love other souls, if they are going to help less fortunate
souls with love and kindness. All of this is part of Earth lessons they must learn.
Once this is understood, we will attain peace of soul and mind...
Progress is all that matters in the Universe!

Pericles (495 429 BC), the Athenian statesman during Athens Golden Age (during of which
time Athens experienced a growth in intellectual and artistic learning), orator and General,
the transformer of Athens into an empire and a dominating power, student of Anaxagoras,
believed that only through an open society of humanitarianism, equality and political freedom
a state can flourish. In an open society, he argues, each citizen needs to engage in critical
thinking, which requires freedom of thought and expression and the cultural and legal
institutions that can facilitate this.

During the Golden Age, scientists like Aristarchus, Pythagoras, and Eudoxus, studied the
origins of the universe, the relationship between the Earth, Sun and Moon, that the earth is
constantly moving, the earth orbits the sun in an elliptical orbit and the moon orbits the earth
with the same kind of orbit. Looking down from the North Pole (Aristarchus explains) the
earth spins in a counterclockwise direction on an imaginary line, its
axis, once every day note that, up until and beyond the In an open society
Renaissance, Europe wrongly believed that the earth was flat and all each citizen needs to
the planets including the sun revolved around it. Pythagoras of engage in critical
thinking, which
Samos and later Plato explain why Earth is spherical in shape and
requires freedom of
explain why the eclipses occur... Scientists such was Democritus but thought and
also philosophers before him argue and observe for the first time expression and the
that all matter was made from tiny particles called atoms it wasnt cultural and legal
until two thousand and three hundred years later that John Dalton institutions that can
revived the ancient Greek theory in order to explain chemical facilitate this
observations... Euclid wrote a book The Elements, which was used
for more than two thousand years to teach geometry... Aristotle explains for the first time the
law of gravity... He also, Aristotle, lays the basis of zoology and Theophrastus botany...
Hipparchus invents trigonometry... and later on, Archimedes, discovers the laws of the lever
and pulley... Hippocrates explains that health problems have natural causes and have nothing
to do with gods and daemons... and he operates on patients on a regular basis...

Copyright 2012 Pytheas Limited 18 March 2012 4


Pytheas
Social &
Political
Review

Why has it taken the world more than two millennia to understand? Was it a period of
darkness caused by lack of developed critical thinking skills?

Socrates (469 - 399 BC), the enigmatic classical Athenian philosopher, teacher of Plato,
Xenophon, Alcibiades, Critias and Antisthenes, one of the founders of Western philosophy, the
father of philosophy and to many the father of psychoanalysis, believed that the highest form
of human excellence is to question oneself and others. His insights and examination of key
moral concepts such as good versus evil, justice, beauty, love, virtue (the most valuable of
all possessions), self-realization, were ahead of his time and to a certain extent of our time as
well. Socrates felt, that evil was nothing more than an outcome of ignorance and an
unwillingness to learn about the other side and that those who did wrong knew no better
mainly because they had not developed their critical thinking skills. The best way for people to
live, according to Socrates, is by focusing on self-development. This fits in line with his core
belief that he was merely wise because he knew that he knew nothing, because the person
who assumes that has the answer and assumes that has an accurate grasp of what is logical
is the person that leads himself into tragedy... Critical thinking, he argued, is opposite of
ignorance and conscientious stupidity... Wisdom begins with wondering, thus one must begin
with admitting one's ignorance.

Socrates argued that a philosopher was the only type of person suitable to govern others
because only a philosopher could apply his critical thinking skills into true thought
leadership... He objected to any form of government that did not
conform to his ideal of a perfect republic led by philosophers... Our daemons, our
because one has to have a comprehensive perception of life in order inner voice, is a type
to govern and lead effectively... He often talked that our daemons of externalization of
our subconscious or
(a form of divine madness: a sort of insanity that gives us poetry,
our thinking process
love, mysticism, philosophy), our inner voice, is a type of that we can best
externalization of our subconscious or our own thinking processes control and
that we can control and comprehend only if we possess critical comprehend only if
thought... Socrates explains that the soul, before its incarnation in we possess critical
the body, was in the realm of ideas. There, it saw the things the thought
way they truly were, rather than the pale shadows or copies that we
experience on the idea of the earth of mediocrity that we created for ourselves. By a process
of questioning, the soul can be brought to remember the ideas in their pure form, thus
bringing wisdom.

Socrates, two and a half thousand years ago, preached openly against the 12 gods of
Olympus and for one abstract god, invited others to concentrate on friendship and a sense of
true community (find the common ground, he preached), argued openly against oligarchy and
the priests that through religion they only polarize people, vastly contributed to the field of
epistemology (on analyzing the nature of knowledge and how it relates to connected notions
such as truth, belief and justification we have to not only attend to things literally but also
scientifically), practiced precisely the approach that was meant to liberate the soul and
provide insight into a reality that was larger than our own, pushed democracy and liberty to
its limits, dared to speak against the Athenian democracy because it oppressed and exploited
slaves and women and dared to exclaim (in a society where religion was supreme): how could
a democratic society vote to sacrifice an innocent girl?

Pytheas (4th century BC), a Greek geographer, astronomer and


businessman from the Greek colony Massalia (modern day Whether an explorer
Marseilles), made a voyage of exploration to northwestern Europe of new worlds or an
close to or into the Arctic circle at about 325 BC, travelled around explorer of life, it
requires perfect
and visited a considerable part of the British Isles, the first person
virtue and boldness
on record to describe, the Midnight Sun, the relationship of tides to (courage and
the moon, polar ice, Germanic and Finnic tribes (also from an vigilance) to truly
anthropological point of view), the one who introduced the idea of achieve and enjoy
distant Hyperborea (or Ultima Thule) to the geographic and mystic freedom
imagination.

Copyright 2012 Pytheas Limited 18 March 2012 5


Pytheas
Social &
Political
Review

Pytheas journey is remarkable not just for the fact that he recorded it but because he was a
true explorer chronicling the people he met and places he visited, giving an insightful account
of pre-historic northern Europe and its people. Not until the beginning of the 20th century and
to Arctic explorers Fridtjof Nansen and Vilhjalmur Stefansson were we able to explain and
confirm his descriptions of the many strange and fascinating accounts he had experienced
including the strange mixture of fog, air, ice and water in those wild, windy and frigid seas.
Reaching Greenland, which is part of the North American continent, 1400 years before Leif
Ericson and 1900 years before Christopher Columbus, crowns Pytheas as the Explorer of
explorers. It makes one wonder what kind of skills and leadership charismas one should
possess to achieve what Pytheas achieved two and a half thousand years ago and the despair
and frustration he must have felt when he returned to his hometown only to be tagged a
crazy...

Leonardo da Vinci (1452 - 1519), the Italian Renaissance polymath,


For the development
a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, of a complete mind,
engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and one should study the
writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, science of art, study
epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal, often been described as the art of science,
the archetype of the Renaissance Man, a man of "unquenchable develop his/her
curiosity" and "feverishly inventive imagination", believed that for critical senses,
the development of a complete mind one should study the science of especially learn how
art; study the art of science; develop his/her critical senses, to see, realize that
everything connects
especially learn how to see; realize that everything connects to
to everything else
everything else.

Galileo Galilei (1564 - 1642), an Italian physicist, mathematician,


Philosophy is written
astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the
in this grand book,
scientific revolution, the father of modern observational astronomy, the universe, which
the father of modern physics, and the father of modern science who stands continually
at a period of darkness while facing death and torture by the open to our gaze.
inquisition when he was accused by the Catholic church for But the book cannot
vehement suspicion of heresy, uttered: And yet it moves. be understood
unless one first
Imagine, at a time such were the Dark Ages, a period of intellectual learns to
darkness that lasted for more than five centuries, a handful of comprehend the
language and read
thinkers, such was Galileo Galilei, not only dared to defy torture and
the letters in which
death and the stereotypes of the time but possessed and developed it is composed
those skills that enabled him to think critically and create.

Thomas Edison (1847 - 1931), an American inventor and businessman, whos incredible
ability to come up with a meaningful new patent every two weeks throughout his working
career added more to the collective wealth of the world and had more impact upon shaping
modern civilization than the accomplishments of any figure since Gutenberg; the inventor of
the phonograph, the motion picture camera, a longer-lasting electric light bulb and the first
genuinely safe and economically viable system for generating and distributing light and
power, one of the first inventors to apply the principles of mass production and large
teamwork to the process of invention, often credited with the creation of the first industrial
research laboratory.

His passion and quest for answers, driven by a superhuman desire


to fulfill the promise of research and invent things to serve mankind, Through critical to
often ascribed him as peculiar to the extent that a number of creative thinking and
problem-solving,
medical authorities of the time have argued that he may have
ideas become reality,
been plagued by a fundamental learning disability that went well
and the best way to
beyond his deafness... Others had conjectured that this mysterious have a good idea is
ailment, along with his lack of a formal education, may account for to have a lot of ideas
why he always seemed to think so differently compared to others:
"Always tenaciously clinging to those unique methods of analysis and experimentation with
which he alone seemed to feel so comfortable....

Copyright 2012 Pytheas Limited 18 March 2012 6


Pytheas
Social &
Political
Review

Albert Einstein (1879 - 1955), a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory
of general relativity effecting a revolution in physics, discoverer of the law of photoelectric
effect, father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history,
believed that the development of general ability for independent thinking and judgment
should always be placed foremost, not the acquisition of special knowledge.

Einstein argued that it is not enough to teach a man a specialty. The important thing
Through the specialty he may become a kind of useful machine but is not to stop
not a harmoniously developed personality. It is essential that the questioning.
student acquires an understanding of and a lively feeling for values. Curiosity has its own
He must acquire a vivid sense of the beautiful and of the morally reason for existing
good. Otherwise he, with his specialized knowledge, more closely
resembles a well trained dog than a harmoniously developed person. Education is not the
He must learn to understand the motives of human beings, their learning of facts but
illusions, and their sufferings in order to acquire a proper the training of the
relationship to the individual fellow-men and to the community mind to think

George Soros (1930 - ), a Hungarian-born businessman, investor, financier and billionaire,


Chairman of Soros Fund Management LLC and Chairman of the Open Society Institute,
supporter of progressive-liberal causes and philanthropist, developer of the theory of
reflexivity based on the ideas of Karl Popper and author, is known as the man who broke the
Bank of England (1992) and accused for triggering the Asian Financial Crisis (1997).

Steve Jobs (1955 - 2011), an American businessman, designer and inventor, best known as
the co-founder, chairman, and CEO of Apple Inc., widely recognized as a charismatic pioneer
of the personal computer revolution, and for his influential career in the computer and
consumer electronics fields. After losing a power struggle with the board of directors of Apple
in 1985, he returns in 1997 as its interim CEO when the company is near bankrupt. Under his
leadership, in 1998 Apple becomes profitable and by 2011 it becomes the worlds most
valuable company.

Bill Gates (1955 - ), an American business magnate, investor, philanthropist, and author, co-
founder, former CEO and current chairman of Microsoft, consistently ranked among the
world's wealthiest people, one of the best-known entrepreneurs of the personal computer
revolution.

Soros, Jobs and Gates, have all been characterized by an amazing ability to find the flaws, or
see opportunities, or connect the dots; by an ability to zoom in to details with precision or
zoom out to the big picture; by a constant charisma to flip back in
time or fast forward to the future and by the ability to focus on the We all possess
merits of the idea or innovation before worrying about the business charismas but have
case. All, characteristics of a critical thinker... Whether a World War we ever bothered to
II refugee, or school drop-outs, Soros, Jobs and Gates, mastered develop them or had
the charismas required to achieve and through developing their the curiosity to
critical thinking skills, thinking outside-the-box, thinking master them?
strategically, defying the obvious, against the status quo, thinking
creatively, with passion and purpose established empires against all odds! Three critical
thinkers that have been amongst the most influential of the 20th and 21st century...

So, what does Solon, Pericles, Socrates, Pytheas, da Vinci, Galileo, Edison, Einstein, Soros,
Jobs and Gates have in common? Is it intelligence and brilliance, courage and vigilance,
curiosity and imagination, passion and purpose, vision and creativity? Yes, probably all of the
above but none alone could have made them achieve the remarkable and extraordinary
accomplishments they did achieve, contrary to common belief of their times, practice and
understanding unless they possessed critical thinking skills: To exhaust the answers to their
own questions of ideas, the whys and the whynots, the cans and the cannots, the
hows and the hownots, the whatifs. They are all critical thinkers, acknowledged for their
achievements and accomplishments to the extent that some if not all have been characterized
by either history or by their peers, enemies and opponents as Great men.

Copyright 2012 Pytheas Limited 18 March 2012 7


Pytheas
Social &
Political
Review

Now,

Are all critical thinkers Great men or are all Great men critical thinkers? We seem to
consider a Great man to be someone who had a positive impact on people and society.
Solon, Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi are
unquestionably great men whose actions were beneficial to millions. But then what about the
others? What about Alexander the Great, Attila the Hun, Napoleon, Hitler or Lenin? As
Machiavellian or ruthless as you might want to make them, they all
participated in shaping the world we live in today. They as well must A critical thinker
must argue freely
have possessed critical thinking skills that guided their decisions and
according to
achievements... But the latter cannot be Great from the view of a conscience, above all
true or ideal critical thinker, being influential or a great leader does liberties
not make one into a true critical thinker. Socrates explains it best
through his life and legacy: The critical thinker should possess not only inquiry but also
intellectual integrity, must be humble and with skeptical attitude. A critical thinker cannot be
dogmatic, despotic or nepotistic. A critical thinker must argue freely according to conscience,
above all liberties. A critical thinker is logical thus he cannot be a conqueror of people or a
warmonger. Above all a critical thinker is virtuous.

What about their followers? What about the followers of men and great leaders like Alexander
the Great, Napoleon and Hitler? Yes, it was different times and different circumstances and
one cannot compare with the other, but they all conquered people, made slaves of people,
tortured or killed, in the name of an idea, their own idea that it was not necessarily the idea
of the people they conquered. Well, what about the people that followed these men? In the
case of Hitler, for instance, could he have caused such horrific suffering and death without
millions of unquestioning patriotic followers? Walter Lippmann explains: The German
experiment, except to those who are its victims, is particularly interesting... For the Germans
are the most gifted and most highly educated people who ever
devoted the full strength of a modern state to stopping the Critical thinking is
exchange of ideas; they are the most highly organized people who not an intellectual
ever devoted all the coercive power of government to the abolition option for the few, it
is a necessary tool
of their own intellectual life; they are the most learned people who
for discovering what
ever pretended to believe that the premises and the conclusion of all kind of people we
inquiry may be fixed by political fiat". It was a conditioned lack of have allowed
mass self-awareness, along with love of ease, unwillingness to ourselves to become
dispel social and moral delusions, headlong rush into the mindless
attitude that "everything is okay" that forced the majority of the German people to follow
Hitler. It was lack of the ability to think critically. A whole nation lived in denial, polarized by a
leadership that cleverly and systematically indoctrinated its citizens by selling to them
what they wanted and liked to hear; touched and entertained their complexes, to such an
extent that discrimination was acceptable; elimination of the thinking elements of their
society was made tolerable because they were somehow convinced that they were a threat,
mass murder and torture as a means to an end, bullying and jingoism were all
unobjectionable because the followers lacked critical thought and their leadership lack thought
a society of madness.

What about superpowers? All empires and superpowers, i.e. Sumerian, Persian, Egyptian,
Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Ottoman, British, Soviet, have collapsed and all failed because of a
variety of reasons, but none more prominent than these four: (a) over-extension of limited
resources (i.e., debt); (b) corruption; (c) loss of their vibrant, innovative middle class; and
(d) seriously poor judgment on the part of leadership. These four reasons have one common
denominator: critical thinking, or rather the lack of critical thinking skills. And what about the
dominant and influential superpowers of the present (and their followers)...

What is an idea without critical thinking?

An idea is a thought or suggestion, a concept or mental impression as to a possible course of


action. But how can one make an idea materialize, formed, shaped if he or she does not
possess critical thinking skills? Even the idea itself, how can it be generated if one does not
ask Why?, How? or What if?. And when would one know when is the best When for the

Copyright 2012 Pytheas Limited 18 March 2012 8


Pytheas
Social &
Political
Review

idea to best take shape into a project or be best optimized (optimum scenario for the idea),
adopted, realized?

How can one ask the best Why, How, What if, or When, if that
person is not in a position to identify the aspects and parameters Only the trained
that make that idea a brilliant idea, that is not just an idea but also mind is prepared to
see through the way
a sensible one? How can one be courageous and vigilant and fight
things look on the
for and pursue the right cause, project or idea? How can one be surface to the way
curious enough to become imaginative about lifes pleasures and they really are
rewards? How can one be creative and fulfill his vision with passion beneath the surface
and purpose? How can one become a contributing and productive
member of society but first to himself? How can one respect himself and others? How can one
master the essence of life?

Can a sensible idea emerge without critical thinking? And can an idea be actively and
skillfully conceptualized, applied, analyzed, synthesized, generalized, evaluated, observed,
experienced, reflected, reasoned, or communicated best as a guide to belief and action, with
clarity, accuracy, precision, consistency, relevance, sound evidence, good reasons, depth,
breadth, and fairness, if it is not embraced by a critical thinking process?

It cannot! Critical thinking entails the examination of those structures or elements of thought
implicit in all reasoning purpose, problem, or question-at-issue; assumptions; concepts;
empirical grounding; reasoning leading to conclusions; implications and consequences;
objections from alternative viewpoints; and frame of reference. Critical thinking, in being
responsive to variable subject matter, issues, and purposes, is incorporated in a family of
interwoven modes of thinking such are, scientific thinking, mathematical thinking, historical
thinking, anthropological thinking, economic thinking, moral thinking, and philosophical
thinking.

But, no one is a critical thinker through-and-through or can be, as it depends to the critical
thinkers insights and deficiencies, tendencies and self-delusion, and that is merely why the
development of critical thinking is a life-long endeavor. Also, when
critical thinking is grounded in selfish motives, it is often manifested The development of
in the skillful manipulation of ideas in service of ones own, or one's critical thinking is a
groups, vested interest (e.g., Hitler and Nazism). As such it is life-long endeavor
typically intellectually flawed, however pragmatically successful it
might be. When grounded in Socrates virtue and intellectual integrity, it is typically of a
higher order intellectually, though subject to the charge of idealism by those habituated to its
selfish use.

And, one being a critical thinker does not necessarily mean that he or she will be a successful
business person or a leader of people, unless his or her critical thinking skills are enhanced by
passion, determination, perseverance, courage, hard work, insight and organizational abilities.

The Hellenistic Era philosophers argued that if you are to master the meaning of life, if you
are to be whole as a person and a true member of society, if you are to be a leader and at
least be able to lead yourself to the quest for life and excellence, you will need to develop
your critical thinking skills. On a broader perspective, the spirit of enlightenment and the
renewal of philosophy and what it entails, is dying with the slow death of the cultivation of
critical thinking The demand for true freedom and social justice is fading with the direct
and indirect silence or confinement of those intellectual circles and voices that over time
motivated and gave food for thought (critical thought) for people to live with virtue and
courage and to assume responsibility of own life through creativity, vision, hard work,
planning, innovation in search for excellence!

Copyright 2012 Pytheas Limited 18 March 2012 9


Pytheas
Social &
Political
Review

Critical Thinking Pioneers

From Socrates method of probing questioning, who set the agenda for the tradition of critical
thinking, establishing the importance of seeking evidence, closely examining reasoning and
assumptions, analyzing basic concepts, and tracing out implications not only of what is said but
of what is done as well, the need in critical thinking for clarity and logical consistency to Plato,
Aristotle and the Greek sophists, 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 to the way they really are beneath the surface (the deeper
realities of life). From this ancient Greek tradition of thought emerged the need, for anyone who
aspired to understand the deeper realities, to think systematically, to trace implications broadly
and deeply, for only thinking that is comprehensive, well-reasoned, and responsive to objections
can take us beyond the surface.

Then to the Middle Ages with thinkers such was Thomas Aquinas who to ensure his thinking met
the test of critical thought, always systematically stated, considered, and answered all criticisms
of his ideas as a necessary stage in developing them.

In the Renaissance with scholars such were Colet, Erasmus and More who highlighted the
importance to think critically about religion, art, society, human nature, law, and freedom. And
Francis Bacon who was explicitly concerned with the way we misuse our minds in seeking
knowledge and who in his The Advancement of Learning argued for the importance of studying
the world empirically and the problems in thinking when based on blind rules and poor
instruction. Descartes, who in his Rules for the Direction of the Mind argued for the need in
thinking for clarity and precision with emphasis to base thinking on well-thought through
foundational assumptions.

In the Italian Renaissance, Machiavelli, critically assessed the politics of the day, and laid the
foundation for modern critical political thought. He critically analyzed how government 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.

It was in this spirit of intellectual freedom and critical thought that people such as Robert Boyle,
Isaac Newton, Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler developed a far-reaching framework of thought
which roundly criticized the traditionally accepted world view.

The thinkers of the French Enlightenment, such were Bayle, Montesquieu, Voltaire, and Diderot
who 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 and who valued disciplined intellectual
exchange, in which all views had to be submitted to serious analysis and critique, believed that
all authority must submit in one way or another to the scrutiny of reasonable critical
questioning.

In the 18th century, thinkers like Adam Smith and Kant through the power of critical though and
its tools, produced The Wealth of Nations (applied to economics) and Critique of Pure
Thought (applied to reason) respectively.

In the 19th century, critical thought was extended even further into the domain of human social
life by Comte and Spencer. Applied to the problems of capitalism, it produced the searching
social and economic critique of Karl Marx. Applied to the history of human culture and the basis
of biological life, it led to Darwins Descent of Man. Applied to the unconscious mind, it is
reflected in the works of Sigmund Freud. Applied to cultures, it led to the establishment of the
field of Anthropological studies. Applied to language, it led to the field of Linguistics and to many
deep probings of the functions of symbols and language in human life.

In the 20th century, William Graham Sumner published Folkways, in which he documented the
tendency of the human mind to think sociocentrically. John Dewey agreed and from his work, we
have increased our sense of the pragmatic basis of human thought (its instrumental nature),
and especially its grounding in actual human purposes, goals, and objectives. From the work of
Ludwig Wittgenstein we have increased our awareness not only of the importance of concepts in
human thought, but also of the need to analyze concepts and assess their power and limitations.
From the work of Piaget, we have increased our awareness of the egocentric and sociocentric
tendencies of human thought and of the special need to develop critical thought which is able to
reason within multiple standpoints, and to be raised to the level of "conscious realization." From
the massive contribution of all the "hard" sciences, we have learned the power of information
and the importance of gathering information with great care and precision, and with sensitivity
to its potential inaccuracy, distortion, or misuse. From the contribution of depth-psychology, we
have learned how easily the human mind is self-deceived, how easily it unconsciously constructs
illusions and delusions, how easily it rationalizes and stereotypes, projects and scapegoats.

Copyright 2012 Pytheas Limited 18 March 2012 10


Pytheas
Social &
Political
Review

Sources (Alphabetically)

Alec Fischer Critical thinking, an introduction


Air University Improving leadership through better decision making: Fostering critical thinking
Ebookee Ideas and Opinions by Albert Einstein
Forum on Public Policy Creative and critical thinking in the arts and sciences
Glyn Hughes Squashed Philosophers Discourse on method by Reni Descartes
Glyn Hughes Squashed Philosophers The advancement of learning by Francis Bacon
Glyn Hughes Squashed Philosophers The critiques of pure and practical reason by Immanuel Kant
Insight Assessment Critical thinking, what it is and what it counts
Intered Less than critical thinking
Mount Holyoke College The history of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides, Pericles Funeral Oration
Perseus Digital Library (Tufts University) Plato, Apology
Perseus Digital Library (Tufts University) Plato, Crito page 45
Philip Coppens Socrates, thats the question
Project Gutenberg Apology, Crito and Phaedo of Socrates by Plato
Project Gutenberg Folkways by William Graham Sumner
Project Gutenberg Socrates by Voltaire
Project Gutenberg The advancement of learning by Francis Bacon
Project Gutenberg The descent of man by Charles Darwin
Project Gutenberg The prince by Niccol Machiavelli
Project Gutenberg The Sceptical Chymist by Robert Boyle
Project Gutenberg Utopia by Thomas More
Pytheas Pytheas the explorer
Robert Todd Carroll Becoming a critical thinker
Shoreline Community College Critical thinking at Viterbo
Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Karl Popper
The Creative Mind with Douglas Eby Thinking like Leonardo da Vinci
The Critical Thinking Community A brief history of the idea of critical thinking
The Critical Thinking Community California teacher preparation for instruction in critical thinking
The History Guide Aquinas and Dante
The Critical Thinking Community Defining critical thinking
The Rational Polemicist Fifteen lessons from history
The Schiller Institute Erasmus of Rotterdam, the educators educator
The Skeptic Tank A history of the British secular movement
The Loeb Classical Library The life of Solon by Plutarch
Thomas Edison.com The biography of Thomas Edison
Walden University How to think like Leonardo da Vinci
Wikipedia Leonardo da Vinci
You Tube Athens the birthplace of Democracy

Disclaimer
The above notes have been compiled to assist you; however, actions taken as a result of this document are at the discretion of the reader and not
of Harris A. Samaras or Pytheas Limited.

All rights reserved. The material in this publication may not be copied, stored or transmitted without the prior permission of the publishers. Short
extracts may be quoted, provided the source is fully acknowledged.

Copyright 2012 Pytheas Limited 18 March 2012 11