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The invention of critical thinking often is attributed to the early Greeks, especially to Socrates, some 2,500 years ago. Wherever it began, critical thinking properly is called an invention, as noted by the important 20th-century philosopher of science, Sir Karl Popper. Its emergence in the human species was not inevitable. It found a catalyst in the Socratic method, an approach to solving problems that relies on posing a series of questions the answers to which result in solutions to the problems. Thus, critical thinking can be thought of as an intellectual technology—an artifact designed to accomplish certain ends.

The critical examination of proposed solutions to problems often is hailed as the method of all rational discussion. The idea of criticism is not meant to be one ...

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