Kritiskt tänkande som utbildningsmål : Från modernistisk filosofi till policy för högre utbildning

Sammanfattning: The goal of critical thinking in higher education is paradoxical, since it implies a form of education that both directs the student towards a pre-defined goal, and commands the student to be autonomous. This paradox is studied in four contexts, as to investigate what pedagogical contradictions the goal of critical thinking generates, and how they transform pedagogical thinking. 1) In the 1930s, European logical positivists cooperated with American pragmatists to "unify science". For Dewey, the realisation of this ideal depended on individuals adopting a "scientific attitude", which could be cultivated in schools and universities. Dewey’s position influenced a pedagogical discourse of critical thinking as the spirit of rational and democratic citizenship. 2) In the 1980s, the Critical Thinking Movement (CTM) addressed the issue on how to make logical thinking applicable in everyday life. Understanding critical thinking as individuals’ problem-solving skills, the CTM essentially inverted the collectivist political orientation of Dewey and the neo-positivists. 3) In the Swedish 1968 governmental investigation of higher education (U 68), a sociologically informed conception of critical thinking, that involved the student in the project of social planning, was promoted. However, educational experts perceived critical thinking as a vague goal, which could not be operationalised. In the 1990s, critical thinking reappeared as part of the doctrine of learning, but only as a generic term used to signify advanced cognitive operations in relation to different subject matters. 4) In contemporary courses in critical thinking held at Swedish universities, radically diverse conceptions are being taught. An analysis of three courses identified three subjectivities "called" by the arrangements and bodies of literature in the courses: the critical thinker as reason, intellect, and moral consciousness. Each of the subjectivities, however, comprises inconsistencies and contradictions, since they are all to be both produced by and autonomous from the orders that the educational institution represents. The dissertation is concluded by a discussion on critical thinking as both a goal and a by-product of education.