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Ways We Think : From the Straits of Reason to the Possibilities of Thought (Paperback) (Emma Williams)

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"The idea chat children's learning outcomes will benefit From developing their potential as independent, critical thinkers is something of a truism. The prevailing conception of critical thinking in educational theory can seem equally truistic: it concerns the acquisition of more or less formal `transferable skills,' and `dispositions' that the properly formed critical thinker can put to use in any domain of inquiry. In this bold and original book Emma Williams convincingly shows that this conception of critical thinking is anything but a commonsense understanding of ourselves as thinking beings, but is deeply rooted in the intellectualist and rationalist tradition of modern Western philosophy. While that tradition foregrounds an instrumental and technological vision of thinking, and a disengaged and representational model of human inquiry, Williams champions a phenomenological account of human thinking that attempts to do justice to it as at once responsive, receptive, and contextual, as well as productive, creative, and open."

Simon Glendinning, Professor of European Philosophy, European Institute, LSE

The Ways We Think is concerned with the issue of developing thinking in education. It seeks to move beyond current predominant approaches, which take their cue from a limited conception of both the experience of thinking and the human being who thinks. This approach is referred to throughout the text as `rationalistic,' designating both its abstracted, disengaged conception of the human being and its representational, intellectualised image of the ways we think.

In order to offer a more adequate conception of thinking, the author investigates the philosophical accounts of Gilbert Ryle, Martin Heidegger, John Austin, and Jacques Derrida. She argues that these thinkers provide accounts that strive to open up the `possibilities' of human thought, in the sense of revealing both what makes thought happen and what happens when we think. The conclusion explores how thinking education might thereby be reconceived, in ways that are richer than rationalism, and indicates how this alternative conception of thought might be translated into the classroom. The result is a method that provides new possibilities and new avenues for an education that takes its cue from the ways we think, in all their variety.

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