Critical Concepts for Concepts

LOGO FINALQuality IS… an abstract concept.

Why identify the mental glue that secures our past experiences?

If the meaning of concepts is understood, the meaning of quality will follow.


If our understanding of concepts is so critical, then how do we divorce ourselves from the emotional side and concentrate on the criteria and principles for optimal understanding?

  • Avoid concept definitions associated with specific organizations because many qualify as social groups, have their own culture and may harbor hidden agendas.
  • Concepts need criteria to make their definitions clear.
  • Be mindful of the various “word senses”.
  • Create a definitional structure by identifying the complex nature of concepts and their association with other concepts.
  • Further develop the decomposition process suggested by Katz.

Thinking is a concept that has been extensively defined.  At the 8th Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking in 1987 a “definition” emerged from Michael Scrivner and Richard Paul. The following definition is a good example of an explained abstract concept rather that a defined concept. Many of the adjectives are also forms of nouns and are consequently concepts.

“Critical thinking is the intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing synthesizing and/or evaluating information from or generated by observation, experience, reflection, reasoning and communication as a guide to belief and action.”

The potential allied concept nouns in this description are: thinking, discipline, skill, process, conceptualize, application, analysis, synthesis, evaluation, information, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, communication, guide, belief and action.

This is an excellent example of the Containment Model of Conceptual Structure, (concepts are a structured complex of other concepts). If we want to understand Critical Thinking we need to understand the allied concept nouns via a decomposition process that will result in a definitional structure and conceptual patterns. Criteria are needed for the decomposition process.

The following concept map may help to conceptualize my approach.

Next post – summation of Chapter 3


Critical Thinking Definitional Structure

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