The subject is complex, and several different definitions exist, which generally include the rational, skeptical, unbiased analysis, or evaluation of factual evidence.
Critical thinking is self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking.
It presupposes assent to rigorous standards of excellence and mindful command of their use.
It entails effective communication and problem-solving abilities as well as a commitment to overcome native egocentrism The earliest documentation of critical thinking are the teachings of Socrates recorded by Plato.
He established the importance of asking deep questions that probe profoundly into thinking before we accept ideas as worthy of belief.
He established the importance of seeking evidence, closely examining reasoning and assumptions, analyzing basic concepts, and tracing out implications not only of what is said but of what is done as well.
His method of questioning is now known as "Socratic questioning" and is the best known critical thinking teaching strategy.
In his mode of questioning, Socrates highlighted the need for thinking for clarity and logical consistency.
κριτικός = kritikos = "critic") derives from the word critic and implies a critique; it identifies the intellectual capacity and the means "of judging", "of judgement", "for judging", and of being "able to discern".
2,500 years ago who discovered by a method of probing questioning that people could not rationally justify their confident claims to knowledge.