“Based on a taxonomy that includes discourse and ideology as well as logic and truth, this article identifies doubt as the element most critical to critical thinking. Not only is doubt intrinsic to questioning but it has a dynamic relationship to purposeful thinking. Despite its heightened relevance in an age when the separation of truth and falsehood is deliberately blurred in media, doubt is not sufficiently recognized in scholarly literature on critical thinking and is also not favoured by contemporary syllabus design. Using philological methods, the article reveals that doubt has been handled imaginatively and positively throughout the history of ideas; and its relative marginalization in pedagogy is a historical anomaly, aligning only with the early days of Christianity. The article argues that if critical thinking is taught without doubt, the syllabus is structurally hostile to critical thinking.”

“Doubt, which is the dynamic purposeful element most critical to critical thinking, is also the element least observed in scholarly literature on critical thinking and least favoured by contemporary syllabus design that conscientiously seeks certainties. We are consequently not in a mood to exploit the opportunities of our richest resource for the creative application of doubt, the internet and even the operation of social media. When critical thinking is promoted in universities beyond the rhetoric of graduate attributes, it is conceptualized and taught in mechanistic terms that also do not seem to accommodate doubt. As a result, the teaching of critical thinking—with its armoury of gated flow charts and tables of fallacies—is denuded of its natural poetic magic, its impulsive purposes, its peculiar intellectual charm as a suite of moments of indecision, where imagination is enjoined to create alignments between improbable or irregular statements and possible or probable motives. The unrefereed literature freely accessed on the internet is the best stimulant for this consciousness. If critical thinking is drawn out of its natural substrate of doubt through the convenience of positivist teaching paradigms, it is a pedagogical crisis, because doubt is an indispensable ingredient in critical thinking; and if critical thinking is taught without doubt, the teachers are teaching something under the name of critical thinking which is hardly critical thinking at all.”