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Chapter 5. The First Four Stages of Deve... > Stage One: The Unreflective Thinker—...

Stage One: The Unreflective Thinker—Are You an Unreflective Thinker?

We all are born as unreflective thinkers, fundamentally unaware of the role that thinking is playing in our lives. Most of us also die this way. At this unreflective stage, we have no useful conception of what thinking entails. For example, as unreflective thinkers we don't notice that we are continually making assumptions, forming concepts, drawing inferences, and thinking within points of view. At this stage, we don't know how to analyze and assess our thinking. We don't know how to determine whether our purposes are clearly formulated, our assumptions justified, or our conclusions logically drawn. We are unaware of intellectual traits and so are not striving to embody them.

At this stage poor thinking causes many problems in our lives, but we are unaware of this. We think of our beliefs as truth. We think of our decisions as sound. We lack intellectual standards and have no idea what such standards might be. We lack intellectual traits, but are not aware that we lack them. We unconsciously deceive ourselves in many ways. We create and maintain pleasant illusions. Our beliefs feel reasonable to us, and so we believe them with confidence. We walk about the world with confidence that things really are the way they appear to us. We judge some people to be “good” and some to be “bad.” We approve of some actions. We disapprove of others. We make decisions, react to people, go our way in life, and do not seriously question the thinking we do or its implications.


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