Category Archives: Critical Thinking

History of Critical Thinking

Thinking Dimensions | Critical Thinking

Throughout the previous centuries, man has continually pondered the existence of man — his behavior, his beliefs, his hopes and dreams, his analytical processes, his political theories, his ways of processing stimuli, his educational methods, his use of language, and his ability to assess and solve problems.

The road toward progress in critical thinking is lined with some of the most brilliant minds that ever existed. In most if not all cases, their work impacts how we think, how we act, and what we do today. They comprise the pantheon of advanced intellectual explorers.

Here is a timeline containing some of the most important and influential critical thinkers throughout history:

NAME:                                            DATES:  

SOCRATES                                   469-399 BC

One of the founders of Western philosophy. Established method of drawing truth from the minds of others through strong and precise questioning.

PLATO                                         424-348 BC

Disciple of Socrates. Believed that the human mind could and should be trained to sift out distortions and discover truth.

ARISTOTLE                                  384-322 BC

Studied under Plato. One of the most influential scientists in history. Believed in empiricism, that all knowledge comes from experience and evidence, and that perceptions are critical in the shaping of thought processes.

THOMAS AQUINAS                      1225-1274

Believed in the process of self-criticism, and the anticipation of the reaction to his ideas beforehand, in order to gain knowledge and achieve understanding.

FRANCIS BACON                         1561-1626

Proponent of empiricism. Believed in the need for evidence, and that observations based on experience represented the foundation of all reasoning.

RENE DESCARTES                        1596-1650

French philosopher and mathematician known as “The Great Doubter” because he questioned the findings of his predecessors. Believed in rationalism, that reason is the basis of knowledge.

SIR THOMAS MORE                     1478-1535

Renaissance philosopher who wrote “Utopia,” about an ideal political system based on reason. Another doubter who believed intense questioning of established beliefs led to change.

MACHIAVELLI                              1469-1527

Renaissance-era thinker whose book “The Prince” illustrated the often unscrupulous behavior of politicians. Pioneer in political science and political ethics.

ROBERT BOYLE                            1627-1691

Philosopher and scientist, he challenged accepted practices in chemistry and physics and experimented with scientific methodology.

SIR ISAAC NEWTON                     1643-1727

Questioned scientific conclusions that came before him and believed in evidence and sound reasoning. Established laws of motion and universal gravitation.

BAYLE                                           1647-1706

Key figure in the French Enlightenment who believed man gains knowledge and understanding through self-reflection, and advocated the separation of faith and reason.

MONTESQUIEU                             1689-1755

French political philosopher during the Age of Enlightenment who established the concept of “separation of powers.”

VOLTAIRE                                     1694-1778

French Enlightenment philosopher and social critic who believed in freedom of religion and freedom of expression in order to achieve a better understanding of the social and political world.

DIDEROT                                      1713-1784

French philosopher and writer during the Enlightenment whose massive project “Encyclopedie” was partly his effort to strike at forces of church and state through the power of knowledge.

KARL MARX                                  1818-1883

German philosopher, socialist and economist who believed capitalism would be doomed by class warfare and would be replaced by socialism. Wrote

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