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Disclosing Sociocentric Thinking Through Conceptual Analysis

Concepts are one of the eight basic elements of human thinking. We cannot think without them. They form the classifications, and implicitly express the theories, through which we interpret what we see, taste, hear, smell, and touch. Our world is a conceptually constructed world. And sociocentric thinking, as argued above, is driven by the way groups use concepts.

If we had thought using the concepts of medieval European serfs, we would experience the world as they did. If we had thought using the concepts of an Ottoman Turk general, we would think and experience the world that he did.

In a similar way, if we were to bring an electrician, an architect, a carpet salesperson, a lighting specialist, and a plumber into the same building and ask each to describe what he or she sees, we would end up with a range of descriptions that, in all likelihood, reveal the special "bias" of the observer.

Or again, if we were to lead a discussion of world problems between representatives of different nations, cultures, and religions, we would discover a range of perspectives not only on potential solutions to the problems, but sometimes as to what a problem is in the first place.

It is hard to imagine a skilled critical thinker who is not also skilled in the analysis of concepts. Conceptual analysis is important in a variety of contexts:

  1. The ability to identify and accurately analyze the range of distinctions available to educated speakers of a language (being able to distinguish between meanings of words, given educated usage).

  2. The ability to identify the difference between ideological and nonideological uses of words and concepts (being able to figure out when people are giving special, unjustified meaning to words based on their ideology).

  3. The ability to accurately analyze the network of technical meanings of words that define the basic concepts within a discipline or domain of thinking (being able to analyze the meanings of words within disciplines and technical fields).

Many problems in thinking are traceable to a lack of command of words and their implicit concepts. For example, people have problems in their romantic relationships when they are unclear about three distinctions: 1) between egocentric attachment and genuine love; 2) between friendship and love; and (3) between misuse of the word love (as exemplified by many Hollywood movies) and the true meaning of the word love shared by educated speakers of the English language.

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