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To return to your question, in such a scenario someone might wonder, Will posthumans need critical thinking skills? Or will humans evolve in such a way that critical thinking becomes superfluous, irrelevant, obsolete, or perceived as such?I think the answer to the first of these questions is that humans will always need to work toward self-knowledge and responsible intellectual autonomy, and so what we now call “critical thinking” will always be essential to individual and collective (even post-) human well-being.Joel Rudinow: It all goes back to my earliest encounters with Socrates, the central character in Plato’s dialogues.
As to whether or not such a need will be recognized by posthumans, I think the answer is that it depends on how we choose to further develop ourselves along with our self-transformative technologies. KN: Some believe that the posthuman will utilize their critical thinking skills in a malicious manner towards humans.
I believe that if the posthuman truly has sped-up cognition and lighting speed reason and critical thinking that they will be friendly.
It took me a little while to appreciate that there was a profound method involved in which Socrates rarely professed any “wisdom”, but sought it everywhere, and whenever anyone professed “wisdom” in his presence he would examine it deeply. KN: Has critical thinking been evolving throughout time and if so, in what way?
JR: When I was an undergraduate college student there was no course or curriculum called by the name “critical thinking”, but the content of the curriculum that now goes by that name was well established (as we now say) “across the curriculum”, and is indeed ancient.
If we look deeply into the “core values” that animate what we’re now calling “critical thinking”, the intellectual virtues that we try to model and encourage through the teaching and study of “critical thinking” are essentially the same as those found at the heart of Socrates’ practice and quest and expressed in the Buddha’s Kalama Sutra.
They are the essential ingredients of an intellectual practice aimed at self-knowledge and responsible intellectual autonomy, which are in turn essential to individual and collective human well-being. KN: Assuming that the posthuman will become a reality in the near future, how do you think critical thinking will change?
Joel Rudinow who teaches Philosophy and Humanities at Santa Rosa Junior College.
He is also author of Invitation to Critical Thinking.
There’s an important difference between fear and caution.
Care and caution, mindful of the moral risks inherent in the development of powerful technologies of human transformation, that’s what’s called for - a worthy application of critical thinking in the here and now. KN: How do you think posthumans whether friendly or not might view capitalism and the current world order?