Posts Tagged ‘creative thinking’

Here’s a lovely little talk by John Cleese on the subject of creativity.  While watching it I was struck that many of Cleese’s points applied equally well to the sort of problem solving we think of as central to critical thinking. Readers of RAIL may recall earlier discussions of this topic that can be found here and here about the (supposed) distinction between the two. This video extends those discussions nicely.

No matter where one comes down on the question of the relationship between critical and creative thinking, there are some interesting suggestions here. Of particular interest should be his remarks on space, time, quiet, and humor–all of which (though I think the last especially) are in increasingly short supply. Some of the psychology is a little dated (the video was shot in the 1980’s, I think), but the advice is still interesting and worthy of consideration.


The end is worth hanging on for, as it affords a political edge to the talk.

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Dear colleagues,
You are cordially invited to submit proposals for the ESTIDIA workshop entitled ‘Critical dialogue revisited: Challenges and opportunitieshttp://www.afahc.ro/Simpozion/info.html to be held within the framework of the international conference ‘Redefining community in intercultural context’ (RCIC’12) organised by the Air Force Academy in Brasov, Romania, on 14-16 June 2012
A primary goal of this workshop is to reflect on the state-of-the-art regarding European and International expertise on dialogue as an art, an interaction technique, a scientific method of enquiry and a problem-solving tool. It is an invitation to explore and discuss the nature, scope and role of language and communicative mechanisms in reflecting and shaping ideas, cultural identities and cross-cultural relationships through dialogue.

The workshop is intended as a multicultural and interdisciplinary gathering of researchers, practitioners and students. The following are just some of the topics we propose to explore: (more…)

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For those who may not be aware of it yet, The Reasoner is wonderful, interdisciplinary, monthly publication devoted to matters that fall largely within the sphere of formal logic and research on reasoning.  Because the focus is so often on formal methods this may not seem, at first, to be the kind of thing that most argumentation theorists naturally would be inclined to look at, but I find it often contains vignettes, short articles, and interviews that ofter serious food for thought to those with interests in informal logic, argumentation, and critical thinking.

A case in point is the most recent issue (vol. 5 no. 11), which contains a fascinating interview with mathematical logician Wilfrid Hodges and a sharp little essay attacking the distinction between critical and creative thinking by A. Minh Nguyen. (Readers of this blog may recall similar ruminations offered in this post from April of 2010).  To whet your appetite, here’s a quote from the Hodges interview:

I have no patience at all with the view of Kant, followed by Frege and some modern writers, that logic studies how we ought to think and psychology studies how we do think. A logician can tell you that if you reason by rule X, then you will sometimes find yourself deducing false conclusions from true premises. It does follow that if you want never to deduce false conclusions from true premises, you ought not to use rule X. So for example you ought not to use rule X in a research paper in pure mathematics. But in real life, where time and memory are often limited and premises are often dubious in one way or another, rule X might be for practical purposes exactly what you need. One of the major achievements of logic of the last fifty years is to start taking seriously the constraints under which we reason, and the different aims that we can have in our reasoning. This expansion of logic gives many openings for collaboration between logicians and cognitivists [i.e. cognitive scientists].

The interview moves from considerations like this one to a discussion of the relationship between logic and cognitive science, and includes an interesting discussion of the logic of the medieval Arab philosopher Ibn Sina.

The Reasoner is an open access publication. Its present and past issues as well are all downloadable in .pdf format free of charge.

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As anyone who has attended one of Erik Krabbe‘s talks knows, doodles, sketches, and cartoons are signs of great genius. I first had the pleasure of seeing his drawings in a CRRAR summer seminar a few years ago. I have to admit that being engaged by the various drawings he used there, and in the talks of his that I’ve had the good fortune to attend since then, has inspired me to re-incorporate that sort of visual element in my own classes. Being a former art major with a drawing background before converting to philosophy, I had used drawings as what I then thought of as a crutch when I first started teaching. I later abandoned the practice when I felt more secure in my role as a teacher. It turns out that I may have been terribly wrong to toss out such a powerful pedagogical tool. My drawings, it seems, were in no way a crutch. On the contrary, if Sunni Brown (the speaker in the video) is right, they are a pedagogical enhancement.  Not only are doodles often funny and engaging, she claims, but they enhance focus as well as other dimensions of critical thinking too.

While the pedagogical dimensions are interesting, equally if not more interesting is the claim that human beings may have an innate “sense” of visual literacy that develops in a regular and predictable way.  Those working on visual argumentation may find this part of the talk very salutary indeed.

All in all, it’s an interesting 6 minutes of video.  Enjoy.

Edit: Today this video popped up in my Twitter feed courtesy of @LilyLivingstone. It perfectly illustrates the pedagogical power of the doodle in mathematics. Good stuff!

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