never universal in any individual

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evergreenhomeland

Senior Member
Chinese
Hello everyone:

How to understand the underlined part the following sentence?

Critical thinking of any kind is never universal in any individual; everyone is subject to episodes of undisciplined or irrational thought. Its quality is therefore typically a matter of degree and dependent on, among other things, the quality and depth of experience in a given domain of thinking or with respect to a particular class of questions.


Is it "critical thinking of any kind varies person by person"? or "critical thinking of any kind varies subject by subject even in an individual"?


The source is http://www.criticalthinking.org/page...l-thinking/766 (the 6th paragraph).

Thanks in advance.
 
  • lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    The second half of the sentence explains the first:
    Critical thinking of any kind is never universal in any individual; everyone is subject to episodes of undisciplined or irrational thought.
    The second part says that everybody fails to think critically sometimes. So "critical thinking is never universal in any individual"; nobody - even the most successful critical thinker - thinks critically all the time.
     

    e2efour

    Senior Member
    UK English
    It seems to mean a constant process in any one person. There is no reference to subjects in your quote, only classes of questions or different domains.
    I find it a curious use of universal, which should apply to individuals, not one individual, in my view.

    What is meant is universally found.
     

    evergreenhomeland

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    Thank you very much.

    To e2efour:

    I feel a little strange with the "never universal in any individual", so that I submitted the question.


    I got the meaning, though...
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    You've quoted before from this very poorly written work. You were right to feel that the passage was "strange".

    "Universal" was not a good choice of words, since it has to do with place rather than time. I'd use it only if I were speaking of something varying from person to person, not—as this author did—in talking about something varying from time to time in one person. (He does specify "in any individual".) Like E2efour (post #3), I would have used the word constant.
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    Y"Universal" was not a good choice of words, since it has to do with place rather than time.
    In philosophy, universal means "unchanging across time and space." A "universal truth" is true at all times and in all places. So there's at least some precedent to think about temporal universality.
     
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