Formulating arguments through critical analysis
Arguments are supports to a point of view. To find these supports you have to become well practised at asking questions and finding evidence. Questions are the instruments of Critical Analysis. These last two words have to be understood properly.

 

Criticism

Being critical is not about being nasty about other people, just as an argument is not just about having a row. Criticism is a service. That is a strange way of putting it. Even so, it may be worth thinking about: Criticism is a service whereby ideas or ways of doing things are offered the opportunity to improve themselves. Criticism does this by testing ideas and assumptions to see if they hold up.

 

Analysis

Analysis on the other hand, separates something into the elements of which it is made up and tries to understand the relationship between the elements themselves as well as between the elements and the thing as a whole.

 

Critical analysis, tries to understand a thing as fully as possible and then tries to estimate or judge how well the thing performs in relation to what you desire of it. The purpose of the process is to see how its performance might be improved or be better appreciated in its performance.

 

To perform critical analysis you have to ask probing questions. Take yourself for instance:

 

         Do you know why you think the way you do?

 

Well, do you?

 

         Have you ever thought about why you think the way you do?

 

On what assumptions do you build your thinking?

 

Are those assumptions always valid?

 

These are useful questions as they might lead to greater insight into yourself and make you more aware of how you yourself work. These questions and the arguments that can be derived from an investigation into possible answers belong to the sphere of critical analysis. The proposed answers to those questions, supported by compelling evidence, provide you with an argument.

 

But having analysed and come up with an argument is not enough. You need to EXPLAIN your argument. Do you know what an explanation really is? It comes from the Latin ex, which means out; and planus, which means plane or level. To explain means to take something out of its own plane: to unfold it, to interpret, to make plain or intelligible. Usually that means making something understood in relation to its use or in relations to the effect it has within a prescribed set of conditions.