Sunday, December 24, 2006

On thinking - Part I

The text that follows is probably not really coherent. One reason for this might be due to the very topic chosen and the other reason being yours truly writing on the same. I really like what Neils Bohr has to say on this: 'Never express yourself more clearly than you can think'. Having said that, I want to be able to put my thoughts some place easily accessible so that I can work on them later on. Views, critiques and comments are welcome.


The focus of this blog is on: How much of what we call thinking is a mere rearrangement of prejudices and how much is sheer logic. And by the way, what is thinking?

The word think, I think, is taken for granted, so much so that when we say, "I don't think that's a good idea", for instance, we are merely communicating the prejudice we already have about that idea (for example: drunken driving is not a good idea..there is no thinking here) unless ofcourse, we pause for a while..really think and give that reply. You could also pause to recall what your prejudice is, but that would not qualify as thinking or would it?

Look at the number of definitions given by the dictionary for the word think.

One of the definitions given is: to have a conscious mind, to some extent of reasoning, remembering experiences, making rational decisions, etc.

Some key words in these definitions are: conscious mind, rational analysis and recall.

These words are by themselves a bit ambiguous. For example what do I mean by conscious mind? Atleast, when I am awake, I am aware of a mind that does my thinking. Now, I can go one step further and say, who is that 'I' in "I am aware of a mind that does my thinking"? Is that I different from the mind. As in if you say I am aware of my mind, you are larger than the mind right, only then can you look at it as a whole. Now, a great many people are skeptical of the 'I' analysis, they have labelled it philosophy and rightly so.

But I can't proceed even a nano meter further, if I am not clear about what 'conscious mind' means. At this point, we give up and make an abstraction of the term 'conscious thinking' and leave it at that. This gives me an idea that thinking is fundamentally related to what assumptions we make on the meaning of words so as to understand the world. This may seem obvious, since the world we see is mostly described through words and if we are not clear on the meaning of these words, but anyway make descriptions, our model is fundamentally flawed. And the assumptions we make on the meaning of words gives us a coloured, prejudiced view of the world unless the prejudices are proved to be indeed true. And these assumptions are also the building blocks for another word: perspective
Since, thinking seems to change or refine the assumptions we make about the meaning of words, thinking therefore has to do with broadening of our perspective or the model used to view the world.