Lesson Two: Thinking

  1. Theories of thinking:
    1. Concept theory: Thinking is the development and use of concepts. (This is the theory in use in this course.)
    2. Behaviorist theory: Thinking is the name for unknown functions in an organism which intervene between a stimulus and the response to that stimulus by an organism.
    3. Verbal theory: Thinking is the internal aspects of action patterns stimulated by the acculturation of an individual by linguistic interaction with a social group.
  1. Concept theory of thinking: The concept theory of thinking sees the imagination as the arena of human thinking. In response to experience (arising both from internal and external sources) an individual develops patterns of thinking which are called “concepts.” Concepts may be unitary, such as a certain shade of red, or very complex, such as the planetary system of which the earth is a part. These patterns can be unique or somewhat standardized; whichever they are depends upon the desires of the individual who creates them. All conceptual patterns are created by individuals, and no two individuals have identical concept patterns. A degree of commonality of concept patterns is essential for communication and cooperation, however.

Thinking is pairing concepts to produce new concepts.

  1. Kinds of concept thinking:
    1. Concept formulation and identification: The development of concepts on the basis of external and/or internal information sources, or, comparing a concept with an information source to see if that is the concept in question. (This is the attempt to establish conocer, connaitre, kennen knowledge.)
      1. Example of formulation: Examining a machine again and again until one has built a concept which contains all of the physical parts and functioning of the machine being observed.
      2. Example of identification: Examining a machine again and again until one is certain that it is of the exact type of which one already has a complete concept.
    2. Concept relating: Establishment of larger concepts in which any two given concepts are seen as related parts of a whole. (This is the attempt to establish saber, savoir, or wissen knowledge.)
      1. Example: Understanding how an electric motor relates to the generator which supplies it with electrical input.
    3. Concept evaluation: Differential holding of concepts wherein some are seen to be more important than others, more “good” than others, etc, according to whatever values are important to the person who is thinking about the concepts.
      1. Example: Understanding that a three phase electric motor is better than a two phase motor for certain purposes.
      2. Example: Understanding that the most important thing about a human being is the person’s desires.
    4. Concept choosing: Selecting a concept pattern for some use, such as one to be remembered, one to be put into action, etc.
      1. Example: After contemplating a number of hypotheses, selecting one of them to be one’s characterization of another person.
      2. Example: Choosing the cherry pie instead of chocolate pudding for dessert.
      3. Question:   How is each of the above kinds of concept thinking an exemplification of the principle of pairing.
  2. Tactics of thinking: Thinking can be done with various degrees of complexity:
    1. Linear thinking: Single track concept manipulation.
      1. Example:    Imagining a way to pick an apple which is growing ten feet off the ground in an apple tree.
    2. Lateral thinking: Multiple track concept manipulation.
      1. Example:   Imagining six ways by which to retrieve an apple which is growing ten feet off the ground in an apple tree.
    3. Systems thinking: Searching out and understanding all of the essential parts of any object of study, how those parts relate to each other statically and dynamically, and how that object affects and is affected by its environment.
      1. Example:    Imagining as many of the costs and consequences of picking an apple which is ten feet off the ground in an apple tree.
    4. Lateral systems thinking: Doing systems thinking for many possibilities.
      1. Example:    Imagining as many of the costs and consequences as one can for each different means of retrieving and apple which is growing ten feet off the ground in an apple tree, by all of the means known to the thinker.
    5. Holistic thinking. Seeing things as they really are, were, and will be, and simultaneously understanding the importance, and the value, and the goodness or evilness of each thing. (This kind of thinking is done only by divine beings or those who are under the influence of the power of divine beings.) This is the goal towards which the best human thinking aspires.
  1. Characteristics of good (effective) thinking:
    1. Clear: Precise and articulated pattern formulation and manipulation.
    2. Accurate: Sufficiently representative of the real or imaginary world being considered.
    3. Moral: Explicit recognition of good (righteousness) and evil in what is being thought about.
    4. Complete: Recognition of all factors important to a given systemic thinking.
  1. Definition of an Agent: An agent is an intelligent being which chooses among alternatives for action on the basis of knowledge of the situation, desire to attain specific goals, and ability to act to attain those goals.
    1. Kinds of agentive thinking/acting: Two kinds of acting are here envisioned, following the ancient dichotomy popularized by Aristotle: a. Knowing: Aristotle’s contemplation (which produces concepts which become knowledge or belief. b. Planning: Aristotle’s practical thinking: to prepare for acting to produce some result.

(Note: It is important to see that agentive thinking and acting cannot be entirely separated. Thinking is acting physically (things mental are also physical) and physically acting involves thinking.)

  1. Characteristics of good (effective) acting:
    1. Effective: Action which attains the envisioned result.
    2. Efficient: Action which attains the envisioned result with relatively low expenditure of resources.
    3. Righteous: Action which attains the envisioned result and which makes everyone affected by the action to be happier than they were before.

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