Critical Thinking

I met Al Arnold at a Civil War reenactment where he was selling his book.  His book is about his grandfather who was a slave and who worked for Robert E. Lee as an orderly during the war.  This led Arnold to research the topic of blacks who fought on the side of the Confederacy.  I was intrigued by the subject matter—why would slaves fight for the system that enslaved them?  So I bought Arnold’s book.  And I am glad I did because his book is about much more than the topic that first interested me.

In his Preface, Arnold brings up a topic which should be common knowledge to us all.  He mentions that to think critically of ideas is a goal that we all should attempt to attain but to think critically of others is not. [1]  What struck me is the simple question of:  Why?  What is different between ideas and people where to be critical of one is admirable and to be critical of the other is not?

To think critically of ideas is laudable because our ideas and beliefs can be in error.  We need to be critical of them to correct any mistakes in our beliefs.  In fact that is the way we discover most of the mistakes in our belief system.

So why is it considered to be wrong to think critically of others, even when they are in error?  Evidently there is something special about humans—we are made in God’s image.  It is obvious that our ideas and beliefs are not.


[1]  Al Arnold, Robert E. Lee’s Orderly, A Black Youth’s Southern Inheritance, Murrieta, CA:   Inknbeans Press, 2017, p. xiv.

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