Step right up, ladies and gentlemen! Welcome to a little thing called Life. Life is a three-ring circus. We have three acts going on simultaneously and I am here to tell you what we have for you in each ring. It’s a crazy show – you had better buckle in. Over here in the first ring we have Childhood. Childhood is a filing cabinet. It is where we store all of the things we will need for the future. Childhood can be a rollercoaster so in this first ring we have a rollercoaster that will take you past School, Friends, Parents and Puberty and you can put a little something from each stop in your filing cabinet.
In the next ring we have Marriage and Children. Marriage – the old ball-and-chain. Children are in this ring as well. To have Children is to have a Life that is not your own. We are going to take your Life here and we will hand it back to you when they all move out (laughter). In the final ring we have Old Age and Death. Since Life is a box of chocolates and you never know what you are going to get, we hope you are happy with what you find in this ring, since that’s your final stop. Welcome friends to the final ring, Old Age, the evening of Life is here. Death is sleep, and we hope you will have a nice rest here, and visit us again in the other circus, Heaven. See you there!
Critical thinking and language
Language is an important part of how communication occurs. Animals, plants and humans all use language in one form or another to communicate. Human language is inherently flexible – meanings can be changed and new words can be created. Old meanings can change and become updated, and words from different languages can merge into a universal language (O’Neil, 2006). Language can be spoken or written. Diversity within language plays a large role in the critical thinking process. (Kabilan, 2000). This paper will explore that process, as well as language in relation to expression of thought, and the role of critical thinking in persuasion.
Languages are diverse. They sound different, they look different, and they are different. Not only do languages force us to use different words for different objects or emotions, but they are metaphysically different as well (Bloom, 2002). Each sentence is packaged differently, depending on the language, and much critical thinking must be used to make the sentences appear in the correct way. In English, verbs may go before the noun, while in Spanish, it is the opposite. These things are important to know when constructing sentences.
With about 6,000 various languages it is important to note that while diverse, inherently all languages follow the same principles. (Bloom, 2002) Language is used to express thought, and without the language, whether it is verbal or written, what goes on in the mind would be lost. It is because language has been used over thousands of years to describe thoughts, prayers and events that we have all that we do today. A huge part of language is expression, and that is how everything is passed on.
Since language is used to express thought, would we have thought if there was no language? This is a similar question to ‘if a tree fell in the woods would anyone hear it?’ It can be argued that a thought cannot exist without language to express it, and it is true that thousands of years of thoughts have disappeared because no one wrote them down or spoke them aloud. Unless a thought is transmitted through language, it will die with the thinker. In this way, language empowers the expression of thoughts.
Sometimes it is hard to find the words to express what is meant, and that is where language has limits. Some emotions and feelings are so powerful that it seems that putting words to them diminishes some of their strength. It is hard to say if this is just lack of faith in language, or a limit of knowledge of the user in the language, but nevertheless, it is limiting. If someone has a thought but cannot find the words, the true meaning of the thought will never be known.
Critical thinking plays an interesting role in persuasion. Some may be persuaded on accident, but most persuasion occurs after a tremendous amount of thought, even if the persuader does not think they are trying as hard. Persuasion can be defined as using arguments, emotions or influences to move the mind. Most people’s minds do not move very easily, therefore a lot of thought must go into a persuasive argument. Language plays a role here too, because it is important for the right language to be used in the right ways to make the person feel the way they need to be persuaded.
When someone is constructing an argument, many questions can be asked. First, they must think of the person or persons they are trying to persuade. What, if any, are their preconceived notions? What are their hot-buttons? What will need to be said to get them to see things in a new light? With the appropriate use of language and a carefully thought-out plan, persuasion can occur.