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The Book review: Smart Thinking by Mathew Allen
Smart Thinking: Skills for Critical Understanding and Writing 2E is a practical step-by-step guide to improving skills in analysis, critical thinking, and the effective communication of arguments and explanations. The book combines an accessible and straightforward style, with a strong foundation of knowledge. The text treats reasoning as an aspect of communication, not an abstract exercise in logic.
The book not only provides detailed advice on how to practise analytical skills, but also demonstrates how these skills can be used in research and writing. In particular, it emphasises how to develop arguments that are coherent and that take account of their audience and context.
Smart Thinking is designed to provide a simple, but not simplistic, guide for the development of critical thinking and analytical skills. It combines the undoubted strengths of the informal logical approach with a newer—but often-overlooked— insight: that reasoning and analysis are always communicative acts.
I would not pretend that one can easily resolve the epistemological tensions between, on the one hand, the commonly held commitments to objective judgment and truth that underpin ‘logic’ as a mode of analysis and, on the other, the social relativism and intersubjectivity that a communicative-theory approach demands. However, from a pragmatic point of view, there is considerable profit to be gained from letting these two distinct approaches jostle alongside one another
There is an inner logic, and we’re taught to stay far from itSmart Thinking
It is simple and elegant, but it’s cruel and antithetic
And there’s no effort to reveal it …
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