Intellectual standards

Clarity is one of the intellectual standards that I find so useful in reasoning. As a student, developing clear and easily understandable thoughts has been very useful in my learning process. Asking questions, which is part of learning necessitates that the question be not unclear, if one is to get helpful answers. Giving examples is a way of making sure that my question is clear (Paul & Elder, 2010), and understandable. Whoever the question is directed to, can know exactly how to respond based on how I frame the question. In a biology class for example, asking the question “what does oxygen help in animals?” could be a bit unclear. Rephrasing the question and giving examples of the animals could help the question be understood.

At the work place, ideas and thoughts devoid of obscurity, goes a long way in making me work efficiently. As an employee, I would love directives which are clear. I would ask my supervisor to elaborate on a particular point, mainly to avoid misunderstanding his point. For example if it is indicated on a machine “do not stop the machine with your hand”, I would inquire how the machine is to be stopped, to avoid misinterpreting the point. Apparently, the note is well meaning in that the blades in that particular machine are not to be stopped literally, but by using a switch. One might understand that to mean that the machine is to be stopped using another part of the body, other than the hand

In daily interaction with people, either on the streets, at home or even in public places communication is deemed to be there, and how clear we are in our talks helps reduce conflicts. When someone communicates without being clear, we only understand what comes out of their mouth, and not what they meant, and phrases like “that’s not what I meant” become more common. When I talk to someone, I try to be clearer by giving extra information, e.g. when talking to a lady whose husband I work with, I don’t just compliment the husband in a vague way, but give details leading to the fact that it is work related and nothing more.


Paul R & Elder, L. (2010). Foundation For Critical Thinking, online at website: