Planning and Creating Your Reasoning

Although, in practice, reasoning, knowledge, research, and analysis are all inextricably bound together, it is also true that, from time to time, we divide our reasoning tasks up in a way that allows us to sit down and prepare an analytical text containing arguments and explanations. What we have learnt about reasoning so far makes us much more effective in such preparation, and this chapter briefly discusses two ways in which we can go about it. However, always remember that the key to good reasoning is not a 'method' or program of steps to follow but an attitude—a keenness to think things through. The advice that follows is designed principally to 'jog' your mind into this sort of keenness and should be applied judiciously, on the basis of the particular skills and needs that apply to you as an individual smart thinker.

In this chapter:

1 We will consider some of the key questions that can help us determine the external context in which our argument or explanation fits. Then, revisiting the planning method from chapter 3, we will look at the questions that are most useful in guiding the reasoning in the text we are preparing.

2 We conclude with a short example of the way that the analytical structure format can be used, not to represent our entire argument and explanation, but instead as a 'plan' of ideas and relationships that can then be used to assist in actually writing the narrative flow of our reasoning.

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The key analytical questions

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