During this season of high octane exam stress students are considering how to argue critically and structure a logical argument. One of the best blogs (and certainly one of my favourites) to investigate with this in mind is Maria Popova’s brilliant Brain Pickings which covers book reviews and discusses philosophical ideas (and a blog one can only aspire to). You can also follow Maria on @brainpicker on Twitter or her enlightening blog on @brainpickings. In How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently post Dennett suggests how to compose a successful critical commentary:

  1. You should attempt to re-express your target’s position so clearly, vividly, and fairly that your target says, “Thanks, I wish I’d thought of putting it that way”.
  2. You should list any points of agreement (especially if they are not matters of general or widespread agreement).
  3. You should mention anything you have learned from your target.
  4. Only then are you permitted to say so much as a word of rebuttal or criticism.

Moreover, Daniel also has suggested seven famous tools for thinking available at: http://schoolofthinking.org/2013/06/daniel-dennetts-seven-tools-for-thinking/ which include use your mistakes, respect your opponent, don’t waste your time on rubbish and Employ Occam’s Razor (you’ll have to select the link for an explanation better than I could ever attempt)…


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Daniel, critically voyaging into consciousness