R. R. Reno exposes An Error Worse Than Error , today’s “On the Square” entry. He began his life as a teacher eager to help students learn to think critically and avoid falling into error and has found since that “critical thinking” was not the only or even the main intellectual skill he needed to teach them.
Critical reason . . . parses arguments, examines premises, and tests hypotheses. It filters belief. Strict reason is critical, not creative. The methods of critique will pull down, and will not be able to build up. Clear-minded and scrupulous analysis clears the underbrush of error, but it cannot plant the seeds of truth.
Therein lies the danger. If we fear error too much, and thus overvalue critical reason, we will develop a mind active and able in doubt but untrained to move toward belief, a mentality too quick to find reasons not to nurture convictions.