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David Caploe
Hon AB Harvard/ PhD Princeton

Critical Thinking for New Economy / High-Tech Professionals

There is no doubt Asia’s extraordinary economic growth has been powered so far – and will be for the foreseeable future – by hard-work and achievement in high-tech areas like information- and bio-technology.

But as indicated by a) the more or less stagnant growth in Japan for the last 20 years, b) the realization by top government elites in Singapore of the need to diversify even their advanced high-tech economy, and c) as the elites in China will eventually discover themselves, there are limits to the growth that can be achieved via a purely technological strategy, no matter how sophisticated and competent.

Put bluntly, after a certain point, economic growth must be generated by creativity – informed and disciplined, to be sure – but creativity nevertheless.

This creativity – even, indeed especially, in the cutting edge areas of IT / bio-tech / green-growth / etc. – requires deep immersion in – not just passing familiarity with – the larger conceptual horizons and analytical frameworks provided by critical thinking.

And the most capacious / accessible / and quickly-mobilized source of critical thinking is that to be found in rigorous, real-world-oriented APPLIED liberal arts and humanities.

Only applied liberal arts and humanities have both the broad time perspective and in depth understanding of societal and historical processes that are necessary to respond to a world whose fundamental dynamics are constantly changing.

It is admirable to be able to speedily solve problems within a given framework or paradigm.

But it is quite a different thing to be able to respond quickly and effectively when those frameworks and paradigms are themselves undergoing constant revolutionization, even in response to the constantly evolving world of technology.

This requires a suppleness that can come only from a profound, almost instinctual, familiarity with the sort of critical thinking that focuses on far-ranging and deeply-probing questions, rather than a search for already-defined “right answers.”

This incisive critical thinking is exactly that provided by both the whole – and individual components – of the intellectual matrix that forms the basis of the ACALAHA project.

In this context, the key is the Theory program – originally developed to understand that most elusive of contemporary phenomena, the media – understood here as an institution of consciousness [ what people think and feel ] that simultaneously reflects / refracts / creates the consciousness of the society of which it is a part.

In order to understand media, we need to confront both directly and multi-dimensionally the nature of how human beings and societies communicate at all levels.

As communication becomes an ever-more dominant factor in our high-tech world, the understanding provided by the applied liberal arts / humanities discipline of medianalysis is an invaluable source of the sort of “critical thinking in action” that is key for professionals in all New Economy / high-technology areas.

All contents of this website copyright David Caploe, Ph.D., 1986, 1995, 1997, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2008.

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