Thinking needs premises to get off the ground. A critical thinker, in turn, aims to reflect upon their assumptions bringing them to light and then either consciously accepting them after thorough validation or discarding them as unjustifiable. Being able to see the underlying assumptions behind our practices and theories is the first step toward dreaming up other possible ways of behaving and thinking.
This module focuses on developing students’ critical and analytical thinking skills. This will be done through introducing various thinking patterns, becoming familiar with their vocabulary, and exposing their premises and pre-commitments. We will discuss four problems where there is a clash of well-known explanatory frameworks and the theories or methods supporting them. Although the module is focused on skill development, students will not only make progress as rigorous thinkers and writers but will also get to learn about crucial debates in various disciplines.
The first two sessions focus on questions about writing history and the politics of memory through the example of the Fall of the Berlin Wall, thus scrutinizing the notions of fact, narrative, and myth. The second topic (sessions 3 & 4) concerns aesthetics and sociology and the question of what we gain by engaging with artwords; this debate, in turn, will serve as an introduction to notions such as the autonomy of art or cultural capital. Thirdly (sessions 5 & 6), we will talk about whether consciousness can be reduced to the physical, thereby becoming familiar with key concepts such as necessity and contingency. Finally, we will address arguably the most fundamental question in life: that of love. We will look at psychoanalytic, feminist, and socio-economic explanations of why love hurts, thus learning about notions such as structuralism, autonomy, and modernity.