Critical Thinking and Humanist Values

You cannot think well unless you have a goal in mind. Having a goal requires you to have values.

The reason we try to think critically is so that we can make good decisions that will benefit us and hopefully others. I am a Humanist, so the framework in which I make my decisions is, good for me, good for my family, good for my society and good for the world in which I live. And yes, I do consider all of that when I make my decisions.

My point is that in order to make good decisions, we have to have some set of values that allows us to deem certain decisions good and others bad. Those are value judgements that require a value system.

Most of us make decisions by weighing the pros and cons. And again, that’s about what is good and what is bad and those are value judgements and we  have to have a set of values that help us make those value judgements.

Moral judgement isn’t enough though. We also have to know what is true. Here’s why. Moral judgements don’t occur in a vacuum. They are determined by what you think is true and false about the situation you are judging. If you mistakenly believe something is true that isn’t, your moral judgement will be flawed as well.

Humanism values critical thinking precisely because it helps us to not only organize and prioritize our values realistically, but also because it encourages us and reminds to base our decisions on what is true and to change our minds if we find out we are mistaken.  Our goal isn’t to be right or to be seen as right, but to do good.

And this brings us back to the question of what is good. Humanism bases our values on compassion. But it isn’t enough to have a value system, you also need to prioritize certain values above others so that when you have a tough decision to make you know what you consider to be ultimately good. In other words, what is your ultimate goal?  For me, as a Humanist, my ultimate goal or good is to live my life fully, love other people and leave the world a better place. This is what I aspire to.

Knowing what my ultimate good is helps me make difficult decisions precisely because when all other things are equal – I can use these goals as a way to decide which path to take and feel pretty good about it.

To learn more about how a Humanist combines compassion based ethics, critical thinking and personal responsibility into a holistic approach to life, consider taking Living Made Simpler at Humanist Learning Systems.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...