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Asian Philosophies of Critical Thinking Essay

EXTENDED ESSAY

Asian Philosophies of Critical Thinking Essay: divergent or convergent to western
establishments?

MAY 2003

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Abstract

The research question of this extended essay came across at a very early
stage in my life. Having been born and developed from a family with all its
members being University instructors and professors, I was often involved
in arguments related to the lack of critical thinking in Asian cultures. As
I got older, having had the chance to emerge in different cultures, I
started to develop my own viewpoints and answers. I started to wonder about
the truth between the real differences of Asian and Western philosophies of
critical thinking. This extended essay, intended to be a research and
investigation, bearing the title “Asian Philosophies of Critical Thinking:
divergent or convergent to Western establishments?” is in fact however
merely just a summary of my viewpoints and answers which I have developed
throughout the years.

In the first section of the essay, “Logical Tradition in India and China” I
will attempt to give evidence of critical thinking in two Asian cultures
that I have chosen; namely India and China. In India, I will argue that
critical thinking is clearly visible in historical texts such as the Caraka
and Nyayasutra. This is presented as the well-known five-membered argument,
a system of logical deduction, similar to the Aristotelian syllogism found
in the west. In China I would focus mainly on the two schools of logical
thought, the Mohists and the Logicians. For the Mohists I would argue that
critical thinking is a vital element in the building of what they call
“mental models.” For the Logicians, I would study deeply the writings of
Hui Shih and Kungsun Lung, I would show that in fact both of them developed
systems of logical and paradoxical thinking that could well serve as the
foundations of modern science.

If critical thinking is clearly presentable in these Asian cultures then
why are there still concerns for introducing it to them? This is the
question I intend to answer in the latter section “Needham’s Grand Question
and Fuller’s Interpretation.” During this section, I would also show that
discussions of modern science seem to enable us to see how the tradition of
critical thinking arose and how they were promoted or discouraged. I would
cover how Asian historical, economic, social and cultural factors have a
big influence on their development of critical thinking. Lastly I would
show how the prioritization of a civilization has a devastating effect on
deciding the future road they intend to walk.

In conclusion, I would argue that since the philosophy of a culture is but
an abstract and theoretical expression and justification of the culture’s
decision to choose one set of priorities over another, Asian philosophy and
critical thinking are neither necessarily divergent nor necessarily
convergent to western establishments.

Contents

|Introduction |4 |
| | |
|Logical Tradition in India and |4 |
|China | |
| | |
|Needham’s Grand Question and |7 |
|Fuller’s Interpretation | |
| | |
|Asian Philosophy and Critical |8 |
|Thinking: Divergence or | |
|Convergence? | |
| | |
|Conclusion |9 |
| | |
|Bibliography |10 |
| | |
|References |11 |
| | |

Asian Philosophies of Critical Thinking: divergent or convergent to western
establishments?

By Clement Ng

Introduction

It is widely recognized nowadays that critical thinking has become a
necessary ingredient in all levels of education.

Educators and educational
policy makers agree that one of the desirable goals of education is that
students are able to think critically. Throughout the past few years, many
have felt the need to consider critical thinking more seriously in
educational programs. At the moment several different acts are being
considered around the world by various factors and agencies. The core of
these proposed acts is the idea that the students are able to think
critically and independently. Although there are widespread disagreements
on what critical thinking actually is,1 there is an agreement that it has
become very important in the world overwhelmed by huge amounts of
information.
Some Western educators who teach at schools or universities in a number of
Asian countries have voiced their difficulties and problems they encounter
while trying to teach critical thinking and other related skills to Asian
students.

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Bruce Davidson (1998) argues that a set of Japanese cultural
factors act as a kind of barrier against teaching critical thinking to
students. Atkinson (1999) goes so far as to argue that critical thinking is
culturally specific, and is a part of the social practices of the West
having no place within Asian cultures, which do not adopt such practices.
What .

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EXTENDED ESSAY Asian Philosophies of Critical Thinking Essay: divergent or convergent to western establishments? MAY 2003 Abstract The research question of this extended essay came across at a very early stage in my life. Having been born and developed from a family with all
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