A Confucian Conception of Critical Thinking


Abstract
This article proposes a Confucian conception of critical thinking by focussing on the notion of judgement. It is argued that the attainment of the Confucian ideal of li necessitates and promotes critical thinking in at least two ways. First, the observance of li requires the individual to exercise judgement by applying the generalised knowledge, norms and procedures in dao to particular action-situations insightfully and flexibly. Secondly, the individual's judgement, to qualify as an instance of li, should be underpinned and motivated by the ethical quality of ren that testifies to one's moral character. Two educational implications arising from a Confucian conception of critical thinking are highlighted. First, the Confucian interpretation presented in this essay challenges the perception that critical thinking is absent from or culturally incompatible with Chinese traditions. Secondly, such a conception advocates viewing critical thinking as a form of judgement that is action-oriented, spiritual, ethical and interpersonal.
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DOI 10.1111/1467-9752.12228
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