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Critical Condition

Replacing Critical Thinking with Creativity

By Patrick Finn
Subjects Education
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Paperback : 9781771121576, 145 pages, June 2015
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781771121590, 145 pages, June 2015
Audiobook : 9781771121125, May 2020
Ebook (PDF) : 9781771121583, 145 pages, June 2015

Table of contents

Table of Contents for Critical Condition: Replacing Critical Thinking with Creativity by Patrick Finn
Preface: An Invitation
Chapter 1 A Foolish Question: Isn't It Time We Replaced Critical Thinking?
Chapter 2 The Baby and the Bathwater: The Birth of Critical Thinking
Chapter 3 A Hitch or Two: Polemic, Violence, and the Case for Critical Thinking
Chapter 4 We Can't Go On Together (with Suspicious Minds)
Chapter 5 An Immodest Proposal: Let's Replace Critical Thinking with Creative, Loving, Open-Source Thought
Chapter 6 “Sure, It Works in Practice, but Will It Work in Theory?”
Chapter 7 Conclusion: An Open Invitation-Some Final Ideas and Questions


Should we stop teaching critical thinking? Meant as a prompt to further discussion, Critical Condition questions the assumption that every student should be turned into a “critical thinker.”
The book starts with the pre-Socratics and the impact that Socrates’ death had on his student Plato and traces the increasingly violent use of critical “attack” on a perceived opponent. From the Roman militarization of debate to the medieval Church’s use of defence as a means of forcing confession and submission, the early phases of critical thinking were bound up in a type of attack that Finn suggests does not best serve intellectual inquiry. Recent developments have seen critical thinking become an ideology rather than a critical practice, with levels of debate devolving to the point where most debate becomes ad hominem. Far from arguing that we abandon critical inquiry, the author suggests that we emphasize a more open, loving system of engagement that is not only less inherently violent but also more robust when dealing with vastly more complex networks of information.
This book challenges long-held beliefs about the benefits of critical thinking, which is shown to be far too linear to deal with the twenty-first century world. Critical Condition is a call to action unlike any other.


Patrick Finn has written a book for the academy, but its implications are much wider. The critical thinking that drove the academics who wanted to ‘teach him a lesson’ by beating him in debate is well represented outside the Ivory Tower as well (think Question Period). But there is a growing awareness—and this book is part of it—that progress, collaboration, and creativity move hand in hand; that the emphasis belongs on ‘and,’ not ‘but.’ Finn is careful to differentiate critical thinking of the constructive kind from the rest; it is puzzling why it gets academics in such a huff. But surely that is a reason for reading it!

- Jay Ingram, science writer and broadcaster, author of The End of Memory: ANatural History of Aging and Alzheimer's (2015), 2015 April