As critical thinkers, we must be careful not to assume that things are actually the way they are represented in human life. The human mind has a strong predisposition to fallibility and is highly susceptible to vested interest. Human nature and vested interest are to be found at work in all professions and disciplines, and in all domains of human life. To understand a field of knowledge, including professional knowledge, we must understand it realistically. To contribute to it productively, we must view it as an imperfect construction. To use it effectively in our daily life, we must internalize the mode of thinking integral to the profession, and be aware that when we or others think, we do so with fallible human minds operating in a world of power struggles and vested interest.
This is not an argument for cynicism but, rather, for healthy skepticism. This chapter presented one possible set of beginning points from the perspective of which we can begin to appreciate the limitations of human professional knowledge and of the conditions under which human professional knowledge is constructed and applied.
To the extent that we are committed to the development of fair-mindedness, we are committed to professional knowledge being acquired and used to minimize human suffering, to meet basic human needs, to preserve rather than destroy the environment, to contribute to a more just world, and to serve rational rather than irrational ends.
We are historically far from accomplishing the ideal, and far less consideration is being given to narrowing this large gap than is deserved. We need to grant full credit to the powerful modes of thinking implicit in the best practices of professions, but we also must recognize that, for those modes of thinking to flourish, they must develop out of a realistic critique of present practice.