This book has concentrated on the analytical structure format, primarily as a way of learning about reasoning, but also with an eye to its practical application as a tool for helping you plan the creation and presentation of arguments and explanations. Yet it would be wrong to think that the format is, of itself, something essential to reasoning. It is not. This format—along with the idea of analytical questions—is one way of representing the thought processes that we must go through to be smart thinkers. It enables us to see that the key elements of smart thinking are:
• being thoughtful in considering issues in depth and with breadth, and without 'missing' any element of reasoning
• being critical in the way we assess information, not taking things for granted or making easy assumptions, either about the truth of claims or their interrelationships with other claims
• being smart in the way we relate the texts of reasoning to the contexts in which they are produced, presented, and then used
• being aware that 'knowledge' and 'reasoning' represent two perspectives on the same fundamental concept: that we explain and argue about the world in terms of the links between objects and ideas. No one idea or object can be understood except in relation to others.
Smart thinking is not just a method or skill. It is also an attitude. Practising and using the skills, with a clear awareness of what you are doing and a willingness to reflect on and learn about the process of reasoning, will give you the right approach to being a smart thinker, effective in your reasoning and able to achieve your goals through arguments and explanations. Good luck!
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