Sunday, February 10, 2013

A philosopher who promotes critical thinking

By Mathew Goldstein

Here is an audio excerpt of the Critical Thinking Crash Course presentation by Dr. Peter Boghossian to the Agnostics and Atheists at Intel on May 11 of last year. Peter Boghossian's blunt criticism of faith based reasoning while working as a professor of philosophy at Portland State University has sometimes been deemed to be too judgmental to comply with academic norms by some of his peers at PSU. But Peter Boghossian recognizes that knowledge cannot be divorced from judgement and he is not deterred. He presses on with his "street epistmology" of trying to encourage critical thinking among his students and any audience that will finance his travel ($1500).

“I’m advocating that there are certain processes that will more closely help [people] to align their beliefs with reality; faith is an unreliable process. It will not help you come to reliable conclusions. It will decrease the possibility you come to that,” Boghossian says. He says of his critics: "“Here’s what they don’t understand: Ideas do not require dignity. People require dignity. There’s a difference between attacking an idea and attacking a person. Attacks on faith are not like attacks on race." We need more advocates of critical thinking like Peter Boghossian. Critical thinking requires restraint and discipline, it is about applying constraints. But many people prefer to be free of such constraints and just believe according to their fancy, so it needs to be taught and learned.

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