1 of 3
1
What is it to think?
Posted: 17 July 2006 11:59 AM   [ Ignore ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2807
Joined  2005-04-29

Noggin, in a Science thread, recently quoted Shakespeare and commented as follows:

"Nothing is neither good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

This quote has fueled my brain for four days now non stop. I feel like I have a point in what I have posted thus far. I also feel like I am now splitting hairs and getting nowhere to the point where I don't even know where the hell I stand with it anymore. It's this whole morality platform I am standing on. It is a rickety thing. Not that my morality is ricketing to and fro, but that the clamoring of everyone else's opinion on key life items causes quite the unstable stir. Who is ultimately right? Can anyone be ultimately right? Isn't that impossible? Yet we have our society.. and we do heave to and fro with opposing views.

Noggin, Shakespeare's proposition seems worthwhile to me, too. Care to discuss what exactly "thinking" is? I've been pondering the issue for the last 35 years, though I never studied it formally. We (and any others who care to join in) may not come to any kind of agreement in the end, but so what? It might be fun.

Assuming you're willing, I'll start the ball rolling with the following sub-question (to What exactly is it to think?):

How much of thinking consists of consideration/evaluation of previously learned lessons, and how much is autonomous? (i.e., 50/50? . . . 20/80? . . . etc.) Follow up questions: What role do words and their attendant concepts play in thinking? Is it possible to think without using or invoking the use of words and their attendant concepts?

Sorry if some of my phrasing sounds a bit strange. Keep in mind that not many people devote 35 years to a hobby such as mine, and that for that reason I'm probably a bit strange, as well.

 Signature 

Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Profile
 
 
Posted: 17 July 2006 11:55 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  872
Joined  2006-02-16

homunculus
Shakespeare’s proposition is an articulation of moral relativism and moral relativism leads to the decay of a just society when only the most egregious acts are wrong.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 July 2006 01:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  386
Joined  2006-04-12

[quote author=“Humble Servant”]homunculus
Shakespeare’s proposition is an articulation of moral relativism and moral relativism leads to the decay of a just society when only the most egregious acts are wrong.

I think Shakespeare is a little more sophisticated than that. 

What was the “original sin” according to your Bible, HS?

AG

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 July 2006 03:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
Newbie
Rank
Total Posts:  46
Joined  2006-07-12

In my mind Shakespeare’s “thinking” refers to what is known today as cognition.  Cognition is not necessarily a conscious process; on the contrary, much of cognition occurs below the level of the conscious. 

This works because we have certain unstated assumptions that we use to interpret events when they occur.  It is possible to change our underlying assumptions, but this definitely entails a certain “paradigm shift”. 

Changing your assumptions isn’t as simple as telling yourself “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!”.  You actually have to believe what you’re telling yourself, which means that it’s very helpful if there are no distortions in your thoughts. 

In any case, Shakespeare is right.  Things are not inherently good or bad, rather “good” and “bad” are labels that we assign to things based on our own internal assumptions.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 July 2006 05:54 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  901
Joined  2005-02-23

My own .02:

How is it that a person comes up with their individual morality (considering Noggin’s original post)?  Is it not interesting that most people have exceptions to their morals?  Clearly, regardless of what a person claims, everybody is, to some degree, conflicted, and their morals are an emergent consensus assembled out of competing notions in their heads.  Why then, need there be such a divide between individual morality, and collective morality?  It is, in essence, the exact same thing!  Individuals may have any given stance on any given moral issue, but from all of these, one or more cultural consensus positions will emerge.

Dave:

With regard to thinking, I think that it is 100% consideration of previously learned lessons.  It is just that the act of considering itself generates new learned lessons.

The question of words and thinking is a good one.  There is plenty of evidence to indicate that not everyone is equally textual in their thinking.  That said, words probably have a primary impact on thinking (the effect on the individual directly), but, more importantly, they have a secondary effect on thinking, because children (and other people) only hear the words that people use.  In a sense, then, words are the gatekeepers of the concepts that can be shared amongst people, and since input from other people is an important way that people get new thoughts. . .

-Matt

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 July 2006 11:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2807
Joined  2005-04-29

Yes, thought process goes deeply beyond our awareness, and if I understand it correctly, Freudian-style analysis attempts to allow us as much access to the process that is possible. (Ted Shepherd, if you’re watching, I hope you’ll add to this).

As for the ratio I asked about (for what it’s worth), I would guess that it depends on the culture and the individual. Perhaps on average, 85/15 word-based/autonomy-based, though that’s only a very wild guess, since objectifying such a thing doesn’t seem feasible.

Temple Grandin, an autistic author and expert in animal science, says in Thinking in Pictures that her thoughts tend to be devoid of words. My guess is that, since our world is controlled and described by words and their concepts, that she must at least make secondary use of words in her thinking process. But her actual thought process itself is unusually visual, due to her autism. Temple, by thinking in her unusual ways, has somehow managed to more or less revolutionize common practices in her field of expertise. (See her latest book, Animals in Translation.) Where did she get her profound insight? I would guess that words tend to get in the way of completeness in our thinking processes. Of course words provide us with much, and this entire forum is nothing but words. But it seems obvious to me that Temple Grandin’s immense success can be traced at least partly to her tendency away from words.

The concepts we inherit inevitably come packaged in words. Words constantly evolve in their meanings for good reason: our understandings, environments and technologies constantly evolve. I think we need to be acutely aware of this process and fully realize the vulnerability inherent to human language; that ancient solutions and guesses continue to infiltrate our vocabularies due to the very nature of words. We’re still guessing today of course, but a bit less madly I hope.

One result of over-reliance on word-based reality and ignorance (or ignoring) of our thought- and feeling processes is that we often fail to understand ourselves as individuals and, as a result, we of course are unable to understand others.

 Signature 

Philosophy may in no way interfere with the actual use of language; it can in the end only describe it. For it cannot give it any foundations either. It leaves everything as it is.
Ludwig Wittgenstein

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 July 2006 11:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  386
Joined  2006-04-12

[quote author=“homunculus”]
Temple Grandin, an autistic author and expert in animal science, says in Thinking in Pictures that her thoughts tend to be devoid of words. My guess is that, since our world is controlled and described by words and their concepts, that she must at least make secondary use of words in her thinking process. But her actual thought process itself is unusually visual, due to her autism. Temple, by thinking in her unusual ways, has somehow managed to more or less revolutionize common practices in her field of expertise. (See her latest book, Animals in Translation.)

Our three year old son is moderately autistic.  It’s an interesting process trying to figure out how his mind works so we can “reach” him.

AG

P.S. HS, have you had a chance to research the answer to the question I asked you above?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 July 2006 12:59 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  872
Joined  2006-02-16

Sorry, wasn’t paying attention. Original sin of Man is the disobedience of God by Adam in the Garden of Eden.
Romans 5:12
12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 July 2006 01:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  386
Joined  2006-04-12

[quote author=“Humble Servant”]Sorry, wasn’t paying attention. Original sin of Man is the disobedience of God by Adam in the Garden of Eden.
Romans 5:12
12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned

What specifically did Adam do?

AG

Profile
 
 
Posted: 18 July 2006 04:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  872
Joined  2006-02-16

The Agnostic Gnostic

What specifically did Adam do?

You’re telling me you don’t know? I know you think you must have some kind of scripture defaeting logic so just spring it.

Humble Servant wrote:
Sorry, wasn’t paying attention. Original sin of Man is the disobedience of God by Adam in the Garden of Eden.
Romans 5:12
12Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned

You do know what disobedience is right? God told Adam not to do something, and he did. That is disobedience.

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 July 2006 01:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  386
Joined  2006-04-12

[quote author=“Humble Servant”]

The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. 16 And the LORD God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; 17 but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.”

There, see, that wasn’t so hard now.

Did Adam have “knowledge of good and evil” before he ate from the tree?

AG

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 July 2006 01:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]  
Sr. Member
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2168
Joined  2005-11-15

[quote author=“homunculus”]
Temple Grandin, an autistic author and expert in animal science, says in Thinking in Pictures that her thoughts tend to be devoid of words. My guess is that, since our world is controlled and described by words and their concepts, that she must at least make secondary use of words in her thinking process. But her actual thought process itself is unusually visual, due to her autism. Temple, by thinking in her unusual ways, has somehow managed to more or less revolutionize common practices in her field of expertise. (See her latest book, Animals in Translation.) Where did she get her profound insight? I would guess that words tend to get in the way of completeness in our thinking processes. Of course words provide us with much, and this entire forum is nothing but words. But it seems obvious to me that Temple Grandin’s immense success can be traced at least partly to her tendency away from words.


From the Wikipedia page on Temple:

Grandin compares her memory to full length movies in her head that can be replayed at will, allowing her to notice small details that would otherwise be overlooked. She is also able to view her memories using slightly different contexts by changing the positions of the lighting and shadows. Her insight into the minds of cattle have taught her to value the changes in details which animals are particularly sensitive to, and to use her visualization skills to design thoughtful and humane animal handling equipment.

How completely fascinating. This reminds me a little of synaesthesia, which I imagine would also change one’s perception of the world, and certainly words.


Imagine this:


“When I see equations, I see the letters in colours—I don’t know why. As I’m talking, I see vague pictures of Bessel functions from Jahnke and Emde’s book, with light-tan j’s, slightly violet-bluish n’s, and dark brown x’s flying around. And I wonder what the hell it must look like to the students.”

~ Nobel Prize winner Richard Feynman

source article

Synaesthetes think of tastes as having shapes, or days of the week having a texture, or sound having a smell. How must that complicate their internal use of language?

_

 Signature 


Welcome to Planet Earth, where Belief masquerades as Knowledge!

This way to the Unasked Questions—->
<—- This way to the Unquestioned Answers

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 July 2006 03:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]  
Administrator
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1243
Joined  2005-11-14

[quote author=“homunculus”]Noggin, in a Science thread, recently quoted Shakespeare and commented as follows:

“Nothing is neither good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Noggin, Shakespeare’s proposition seems worthwhile to me, too. Care to discuss what exactly “thinking” is?...
How much of thinking consists of consideration/evaluation of previously learned lessons, and how much is autonomous? (i.e., 50/50? . . . 20/80? . . . etc.) Follow up questions: What role do words and their attendant concepts play in thinking? Is it possible to think without using or invoking the use of words and their attendant concepts?

I don’t know how much is previously learned or autonomous.  My gut instinct wants to say that most of thinking is shaped and formed by previously learned lessons.  I cannot discuss many topics with my 4 year old because he doesn’t understand the words and concepts yet.  Words are building blocks that shape concepts and trigger emotions that engage us into opining and pontificating, IMO.

about words:

If you and I were meeting for lunch, and I offered my first impression of you verbally along the lines of

“Wow, Homunculus, you look gay today”

You might be taken back, depending on who you sleep with.

Change the lunch meeting 30 years prior and there is a possibility that you might respond

“Yes, I am rather gay!” and we’d both feel glad about how happy you were.  Even though I snickered quietly to myself just now writing that.

Words change, and thinking changes along with them.  Words trigger our minds to engage in patterns and lines.  We draw from these patterns to seek out appropriate response.  However, Infants do not have words.  Dogs do not have words.  I tell my labrador to sit, and he inderstands.  I used to read to my babies and that would both sooth and annoy them (depending on many variables).  I think that they both were responding to voice tones.

Is it possible to think without using or invoking the use of words and their attendant concepts?

I recently started meditating again.  My attempts are spotty.  It is very difficult to do (for me) but I am getting to the point where I believe I can empty my mind of all thought.  My biggest problem is that once I think about “Hey am I almost there?” that triggers the thought process and a cascadia of other thoughts come onto center stage.

Have you tried this, Homunculus or anyone?  Is it possible to empty your mind of all thought?  It is kind of a trip.  I haven’t approached what I read is possible, but it is interesting to try.  Last year, I read a book “Why God Won’t Go Away” by Newberg and have become fascinated by the sufi mystics who are able to blend themselves into particles of the universe just by emptying their minds, annihilating the self,  in a meditative state. 

Noggin

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 July 2006 03:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  386
Joined  2006-04-12

HS,

[quote author=“The Agnostic Gnostic”]

Did Adam have “knowledge of good and evil” before he ate from the tree?

AG

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 July 2006 04:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]  
Sr. Member
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2338
Joined  2006-02-19

AG
You harp on this point and with your knowledge you should know it is midleading. To know biblically does not mean just be aware of. We are all familiar with the phrase to know in a biblical way refers to sex. It is a deep level of knowing but it is not to be confused with being aware of. You love to point out discrepencies with the ancient text and modern usage yet seem to be avoiding this with your own argument. So to answer your question Adam and Eve did not experience evil prior to the fall but were aware there were consequences to their actions. This is why they hide when the Lord comes into the garden. They have now experienced evil. They like the rest of us know evil. When we know evil in the biblical sense we sin.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 19 July 2006 04:35 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]  
Member
RankRankRank
Total Posts:  386
Joined  2006-04-12

[quote author=“frankr”]AG
You harp on this point and with your knowledge you should know it is midleading. To know biblically does not mean just be aware of. We are all familiar with the phrase to know in a biblical way refers to sex. It is a deep level of knowing but it is not to be confused with being aware of. You love to point out discrepencies with the ancient text and modern usage yet seem to be avoiding this with your own argument. So to answer your question Adam and Eve did not experience evil prior to the fall but were aware there were consequences to their actions. This is why they hide when the Lord comes into the garden. They have now experienced evil. They like the rest of us know evil. When we know evil in the biblical sense we sin.

Nice try.  You haven’t correctly anticipated where I am going with this.

But if you’d like to answer the questions, instead of HS, I’m fine with that.

Did Adam have “knowledge of good and evil” before eating of the tree of knowledge of good and evil?  Based on the above, I think your answer is “no,” but before we move on, I just wanted you to clarify it.

AG

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 3
1
 
RSS 2.0     Atom Feed