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Chapter 4. Self-Understanding

The preceding chapters emphasized that:

  • Critical thinking requires the development of basic intellectual skills, abilities, and insights;

  • Becoming a skilled thinker is like becoming skilled in basketball, ballet, or saxophone playing;

  • These skills can be used to serve two incompatible ends: self-centeredness or fair-mindedness;

  • The skills of critical thinking can be learned in a "weak" sense (selfish thinking);

  • We are focused on the development of critical thinking in a "strong" sense (i.e., serving fair-minded thinking);

  • Fair-mindedness requires that we develop a network of interrelated traits of mind;

  • Developing as a thinker is challenging, requiring internal motivation.

Our goal in this chapter is to lay a foundation for understanding better how the human mind works. We will begin by taking a further look at human egocentrism and the obstacle it represents. We then will take a look at some of the most basic distinctions we can use to achieve greater self-command.

Our latent egocentrism asserts itself through each of the basic functions of the mind. We must understand those functions, as they work in relationship to each other.

Only through our practical insight into how our mind operates can we hope to understand, and transform, ourselves.

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