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Westside Toastmasters is located in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, California


True excellence in thinking is not simply the result of isolated intellectual skills. There are inevitable problems in the thinking of persons who, without knowing it, lack intellectual virtues. Instead, they frequently display the traits of the undisciplined mind. To the extent one is unconsciously motivated to believe what one wants to believe, what is most comfortable to believe, what puts one in a good light, what serves one's selfish interest, one is unable to function as a rational person. As you work through this resource, we hope you find yourself internalizing the essential traits. We hope you will resist the influence of both the conformist thinkers around you and the egocentric thinker within you. We hope you will recognize that skilled thinking can be used for good or for ill. We hope you will see that it is the intellectual virtues that guide thinking toward fair-mindedness. Such virtues enable us to enter, in good faith, all viewpoints relevant to a complex issue before coming to final conclusions, to seek out weaknesses in our thinking, to be moved by reasoning that is superior to our own. When possible we have the advantage in seeing all sides and are able to work with them, supporting in each what we see as sound and respectfully disagreeing with that which we see as flawed.

Natural versus Critical Thinking

  • As humans we think; as critical thinkers we analyze our thinking.

  • As humans we think egocentrically; as critical thinkers we expose the egocentric roots of our thinking to close scrutiny.

  • As humans we are drawn to standards of thinking unworthy of belief; as critical thinkers we expose inappropriate standards and replace them with sound ones.

  • As humans we live in systems of meanings that typically entrap us; as critical thinkers we learn how to raise our thinking to conscious examination, enabling us to free ourselves from many of the traps of undisciplined, instinctive thought.

  • As humans we use logical systems whose root structures are not apparent to us; as critical thinkers we develop tools for explicating and assessing our participation in the logical systems in which we live.

  • As humans we live with the illusion of intellectual and emotion freedom; as critical thinkers we take explicit intellectual and emotional command of who we are, what we are, and the ends to which our lives are tending.

  • As human thinkers we are governed by our thoughts; as critical thinkers we learn how to govern the thoughts that govern us.

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