On Learning to Think

Knowing how to think demands a set of cognitive skills — quantitative ability, conceptual flexibility, analytical acumen, expressive clarity. But beyond those skills, learning how to think requires the development of a set of intellectual virtues that make good students, good professionals, and good citizens. I use the word ‘virtues,’ as opposed to ‘skills,’ deliberately. As Aristotle knew, all of the traits I will discuss have a fundamental moral dimension. I won’t provide an exhaustive list of intellectual virtues, but I will provide a list, just to get the conversation started... love of truth... honesty... fair-mindedness... humility... perseverance... good listening... perspective taking and empathy... wisdom.

Barry Schwartz, "What 'Learning How to Think' Really Means," The Chronicle of Higher Education - http://bit.ly/1G8lfkk. Schwartz elaborates on each skill and maybe one of the more interesting is his summary of why love of truth is first on his list.

Love of truth is an intellectual virtue because its absence has serious moral consequences. Relativism chips away at our fundamental respect for one another as human beings. When people have respect for the truth, they seek it out and speak it in dialogue. Once truth becomes suspect, debates become little more than efforts at manipulation. Instead of trying to enlighten or persuade people by giving them reasons to see things as we do, we can use any form of influence we think will work. This is what political ‘spin’ is all about.
timothywstanley@me.com