Thought

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Girl with a Book by José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior Almeida Júnior - Moça com Livro.jpg
Girl with a Book by José Ferraz de Almeida Júnior

Thought encompasses an "aim-oriented flow of ideas and associations that can lead to a reality-oriented conclusion". [1] Although thinking is an activity of an existential value for humans, there is no consensus as to how it is defined or understood.

Association in psychology refers to a mental connection between concepts, events, or mental states that usually stems from specific experiences. Associations are seen throughout several schools of thought in psychology including behaviorism, associationism, psychoanalysis, social psychology, and structuralism. The idea stems from Plato and Aristotle, especially with regard to the succession of memories, and it was carried on by philosophers such as John Locke, David Hume, David Hartley, and James Mill. It finds its place in modern psychology in such areas as memory, learning, and the study of neural pathways.

Contents

Because thought underlies many human actions and interactions, understanding its physical and metaphysical origins, processes, and effects has been a longstanding goal of many academic disciplines including philosophy, linguistics, psychology, neuroscience, artificial intelligence, biology, sociology and cognitive science.

Goal desired result or outcome

A goal is an idea of the future or desired result that a person or a group of people envisions, plans and commits to achieve. People endeavor to reach goals within a finite time by setting deadlines.

Philosophy intellectual and/or logical study of general and fundamental problems

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

Linguistics is the scientific study of language. It involves analysing language form, language meaning, and language in context. The earliest activities in the documentation and description of language have been attributed to the 6th-century-BC Indian grammarian Pāṇini who wrote a formal description of the Sanskrit language in his Aṣṭādhyāyī.

Thinking allows humans to make sense of, interpret, represent or model the world they experience, and to make predictions about that world. It is therefore helpful to an organism with needs, objectives, and desires as it makes plans or otherwise attempts to accomplish those goals.

A conceptual model is a representation of a system, made of the composition of concepts which are used to help people know, understand, or simulate a subject the model represents. It is also a set of concepts. Some models are physical objects; for example, a toy model which may be assembled, and may be made to work like the object it represents.

Etymology and usage

A Pensive Moment (1904), by Eugene de Blaas Eugene de Blaas A Pensive Moment.jpg
A Pensive Moment (1904), by Eugene de Blaas

The word thought comes from Old English þoht, or geþoht, from stem of þencan "to conceive of in the mind, consider". [2]

Old English, or Anglo-Saxon, is the earliest historical form of the English language, spoken in England and southern and eastern Scotland in the early Middle Ages. It was brought to Great Britain by Anglo-Saxon settlers probably in the mid-5th century, and the first Old English literary works date from the mid-7th century. After the Norman conquest of 1066, English was replaced, for a time, as the language of the upper classes by Anglo-Norman, a relative of French. This is regarded as marking the end of the Old English era, as during this period the English language was heavily influenced by Anglo-Norman, developing into a phase known now as Middle English.

The word "thought" may mean: [3] [4]

Huike Thinking, a portrait of the Chán patriarch Dazu Huike attributed to the 10th-century painter Shi Ke Huike thinking.jpg
Huike Thinking, a portrait of the Chán patriarch Dazu Huike attributed to the 10th-century painter Shi Ke

Definitions may or may not require that thought

Anthropomorphism attribution of human form given from other characteristics to anything other than a human being

Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities. It is considered to be an innate tendency of human psychology.

Alan Turing mathematician and computer scientist

Alan Mathison Turing was an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher and theoretical biologist. Turing was highly influential in the development of theoretical computer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of algorithm and computation with the Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a general-purpose computer. Turing is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence. Despite these accomplishments, he was never fully recognised in his home country during his lifetime due to his homosexuality, which was then a crime in the UK.

"Computing Machinery and Intelligence" is a seminal paper written by Alan Turing on the topic of artificial intelligence. The paper, published in 1950 in Mind, was the first to introduce his concept of what is now known as the Turing test to the general public.

Definitions of thought may also be derived directly or indirectly from theories of thought.

truth==Theories==

Steven Pinker psychologist, linguist, author

Steven Arthur Pinker is a Canadian-American cognitive psychologist, linguist, and popular science author. He is Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University, and is known for his advocacy of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind.

Noam Chomsky American linguist, philosopher and activist

Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, political activist, and social critic. Sometimes called "the father of modern linguistics", Chomsky is also a major figure in analytic philosophy and one of the founders of the field of cognitive science. He holds a joint appointment as Institute Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and laureate professor at the University of Arizona, and is the author of over 100 books on topics such as linguistics, war, politics, and mass media. Ideologically, he aligns with anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian socialism.

The language of thought hypothesis (LOTH), sometimes known as thought ordered mental expression (TOME), is a view in linguistics, philosophy of mind and cognitive science, forwarded by American philosopher Jerry Fodor. It describes the nature of thought as possessing "language-like" or compositional structure. On this view, simple concepts combine in systematic ways to build thoughts. In its most basic form, the theory states that thought, like language, has syntax.

Philosophy

What is most thought-provoking in these thought-provoking times, is that we are still not thinking.

The Thinker by Rodin (1840–1917), in the garden of the Musée Rodin ThinkingMan Rodin.jpg
The Thinker by Rodin (1840–1917), in the garden of the Musée Rodin

The phenomenology movement in philosophy saw a radical change in the way in which we understand thought. Martin Heidegger's phenomenological analyses of the existential structure of man in Being and Time cast new light on the issue of thinking, unsettling traditional cognitive or rational interpretations of man which affect the way we understand thought. The notion of the fundamental role of non-cognitive understanding in rendering possible thematic consciousness informed the discussion surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) during the 1970s and 1980s. [14]

Phenomenology, however, is not the only approach to thinking in modern Western philosophy. Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the nature of the mind, mental events, mental functions, mental properties, consciousness and their relationship to the physical body, particularly the brain. The mind–body problem, i.e. the relationship of the mind to the body, is commonly seen as the central issue in philosophy of mind, although there are other issues concerning the nature of the mind that do not involve its relation to the physical body. [15]

Mind–body dichotomy

The mind–body problem concerns the explanation of the relationship that exists between minds, or mental processes, and bodily states or processes. [15] The main aim of philosophers working in this area is to determine the nature of the mind and mental states/processes, and how—or even if—minds are affected by and can affect the body.

Human perceptual experiences depend on stimuli which arrive at one's various sensory organs from the external world and these stimuli cause changes in one's mental state, ultimately causing one to feel a sensation, which may be pleasant or unpleasant. Someone's desire for a slice of pizza, for example, will tend to cause that person to move his or her body in a specific manner and in a specific direction to obtain what he or she wants. The question, then, is how it can be possible for conscious experiences to arise out of a lump of gray matter endowed with nothing but electrochemical properties. A related problem is to explain how someone's propositional attitudes (e.g. beliefs and desires) can cause that individual's neurons to fire and his muscles to contract in exactly the correct manner. These comprise some of the puzzles that have confronted epistemologists and philosophers of mind from at least the time of René Descartes. [16]

Functionalism vs. embodiment

The above reflects a classical, functional description of how we work as cognitive, thinking systems. However the apparently irresolvable mind–body problem is said to be overcome, and bypassed, by the embodied cognition approach, with its roots in the work of Heidegger, Piaget, Vygotsky, Merleau-Ponty and the pragmatist John Dewey. [17] [18]

This approach states that the classical approach of separating the mind and analysing its processes is misguided: instead, we should see that the mind, actions of an embodied agent, and the environment it perceives and envisions, are all parts of a whole which determine each other. Therefore, functional analysis of the mind alone will always leave us with the mind–body problem which cannot be solved. [19]

Biology

A neuron (also known as a neurone or nerve cell) is an excitable cell in the nervous system that processes and transmits information by electrochemical signaling. Neurons are the core components of the brain, the vertebrate spinal cord, the invertebrate ventral nerve cord and the peripheral nerves. A number of specialized types of neurons exist: sensory neurons respond to touch, sound, light and numerous other stimuli affecting cells of the sensory organs that then send signals to the spinal cord and brain. Motor neurons receive signals from the brain and spinal cord that cause muscle contractions and affect glands. Interneurons connect neurons to other neurons within the brain and spinal cord. Neurons respond to stimuli, and communicate the presence of stimuli to the central nervous system, which processes that information and sends responses to other parts of the body for action. Neurons do not go through mitosis and usually cannot be replaced after being destroyed, although astrocytes have been observed to turn into neurons, as they are sometimes pluripotent.

Psychology

Man thinking on a train journey Thinking২.jpg
Man thinking on a train journey
Graffiti on the wall: "to 'think for myself' became less favorable" Nothing gets in the way.jpg
Graffiti on the wall: "to 'think for myself' became less favorable"

Psychologists have concentrated on thinking as an intellectual exertion aimed at finding an answer to a question or the solution of a practical problem. Cognitive psychology is a branch of psychology that investigates internal mental processes such as problem solving, memory, and language. The school of thought arising from this approach is known as cognitivism, which is interested in how people mentally represent information processing. It had its foundations in the Gestalt psychology of Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Köhler, and Kurt Koffka, [20] and in the work of Jean Piaget, who provided a theory of stages/phases that describes children's cognitive development.

Cognitive psychologists use psychophysical and experimental approaches to understand, diagnose, and solve problems, concerning themselves with the mental processes which mediate between stimulus and response. They study various aspects of thinking, including the psychology of reasoning, and how people make decisions and choices, solve problems, as well as engage in creative discovery and imaginative thought. Cognitive theory contends that solutions to problems either take the form of algorithms: rules that are not necessarily understood but promise a solution, or of heuristics: rules that are understood but that do not always guarantee solutions. Cognitive science differs from cognitive psychology in that algorithms that are intended to simulate human behavior are implemented or implementable on a computer. In other instances, solutions may be found through insight, a sudden awareness of relationships.

In developmental psychology, Jean Piaget was a pioneer in the study of the development of thought from birth to maturity. In his theory of cognitive development, thought is based on actions on the environment. That is, Piaget suggests that the environment is understood through assimilations of objects in the available schemes of action and these accommodate to the objects to the extent that the available schemes fall short of the demands. As a result of this interplay between assimilation and accommodation, thought develops through a sequence of stages that differ qualitatively from each other in mode of representation and complexity of inference and understanding. That is, thought evolves from being based on perceptions and actions at the sensorimotor stage in the first two years of life to internal representations in early childhood. Subsequently, representations are gradually organized into logical structures which first operate on the concrete properties of the reality, in the stage of concrete operations, and then operate on abstract principles that organize concrete properties, in the stage of formal operations. [21] In recent years, the Piagetian conception of thought was integrated with information processing conceptions. Thus, thought is considered as the result of mechanisms that are responsible for the representation and processing of information. In this conception, speed of processing, cognitive control, and working memory are the main functions underlying thought. In the neo-Piagetian theories of cognitive development, the development of thought is considered to come from increasing speed of processing, enhanced cognitive control, and increasing working memory. [22]

Positive psychology emphasizes the positive aspects of human psychology as equally important as the focus on mood disorders and other negative symptoms. In Character Strengths and Virtues , Peterson and Seligman list a series of positive characteristics. One person is not expected to have every strength, nor are they meant to fully capsulate that characteristic entirely. The list encourages positive thought that builds on a person's strengths, rather than how to "fix" their "symptoms". [23]

Psychoanalysis

The "id", "ego" and "super-ego" are the three parts of the "psychic apparatus" defined in Sigmund Freud's structural model of the psyche; they are the three theoretical constructs in terms of whose activity and interaction mental life is described. According to this model, the uncoordinated instinctual trends are encompassed by the "id", the organized realistic part of the psyche is the "ego", and the critical, moralizing function is the "super-ego". [24]

The unconscious was considered by Freud throughout the evolution of his psychoanalytic theory to be a sentient force of will influenced by human desire and yet operating well below the perceptual conscious mind. For Freud, the unconscious is the storehouse of instinctual desires, needs and psychic drives. While past thoughts and reminiscences may be concealed from immediate consciousness, they direct the thoughts and feelings of the individual from the realm of the unconscious. [25]

For psychoanalysis, the unconscious does not include all that is not conscious, rather only what is actively repressed from conscious thought or what the person is averse to knowing consciously. In a sense this view places the self in relationship to their unconscious as an adversary, warring with itself to keep what is unconscious hidden. If a person feels pain, all he can think of is alleviating the pain. Any of his desires, to get rid of pain or enjoy something, command the mind what to do. For Freud, the unconscious was a repository for socially unacceptable ideas, wishes or desires, traumatic memories, and painful emotions put out of mind by the mechanism of psychological repression. However, the contents did not necessarily have to be solely negative. In the psychoanalytic view, the unconscious is a force that can only be recognized by its effects—it expresses itself in the symptom. [26]


A "thought bubble" is an illustration depicting thought. Thought bubble.svg
A "thought bubble" is an illustration depicting thought.

Social psychology is the study of how people and groups interact. Scholars in this interdisciplinary area are typically either psychologists or sociologists, though all social psychologists employ both the individual and the group as their units of analysis. [27]

Despite their similarity, psychological and sociological researchers tend to differ in their goals, approaches, methods, and terminology. They also favor separate academic journals and professional societies. The greatest period of collaboration between sociologists and psychologists was during the years immediately following World War II. [28] Although there has been increasing isolation and specialization in recent years, some degree of overlap and influence remains between the two disciplines. [29]

The collective unconscious, sometimes known as collective subconscious, is a term of analytical psychology, coined by Carl Jung. It is a part of the unconscious mind, shared by a society, a people, or all humanity, in an interconnected system that is the product of all common experiences and contains such concepts as science, religion, and morality. While Freud did not distinguish between an "individual psychology" and a "collective psychology", Jung distinguished the collective unconscious from the personal subconscious particular to each human being. The collective unconscious is also known as "a reservoir of the experiences of our species". [30]

In the "Definitions" chapter of Jung's seminal work Psychological Types, under the definition of "collective" Jung references representations collectives, a term coined by Lucien Lévy-Bruhl in his 1910 book How Natives Think. Jung says this is what he describes as the collective unconscious. Freud, on the other hand, did not accept the idea of a collective unconscious.

See also

Related Research Articles

Cognitive science interdisciplinary scientific study of the mind and its processes

Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary, scientific study of the mind and its processes. It examines the nature, the tasks, and the functions of cognition. Cognitive scientists study intelligence and behavior, with a focus on how nervous systems represent, process, and transform information. Mental faculties of concern to cognitive scientists include language, perception, memory, attention, reasoning, and emotion; to understand these faculties, cognitive scientists borrow from fields such as linguistics, psychology, artificial intelligence, philosophy, neuroscience, and anthropology. The typical analysis of cognitive science spans many levels of organization, from learning and decision to logic and planning; from neural circuitry to modular brain organization. The fundamental concept of cognitive science is that "thinking can best be understood in terms of representational structures in the mind and computational procedures that operate on those structures."

Cognitive psychology is the study of mental processes such as "attention, language use, memory, perception, problem solving, creativity, and thinking". Much of the work derived from cognitive psychology has been integrated into various other modern disciplines such as Cognitive Science and of psychological study, including educational psychology, social psychology, personality psychology, abnormal psychology, developmental psychology, linguistics, and economics.

Mind combination of cognitive faculties that provides consciousness, thinking, reasoning, perception, and judgement in humans and potentially other life forms

The mind is a set of cognitive faculties including consciousness, perception, thinking, judgement, language and memory. It is usually defined as the faculty of an entity's thoughts and consciousness. It holds the power of imagination, recognition, and appreciation, and is responsible for processing feelings and emotions, resulting in attitudes and actions.

The unconscious mind consists of the processes in the mind which occur automatically and are not available to introspection, and include thought processes, memories, interests, and motivations.

Jean Piaget Swiss psychologist, biologist, logician, philosopher and academic

Jean Piaget was a Swiss psychologist known for his work on child development. Piaget's theory of cognitive development and epistemological view are together called "genetic epistemology".

Cognition is "the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and the senses". It encompasses many aspects of intellectual functions and processes such as attention, the formation of knowledge, memory and working memory, judgment and evaluation, reasoning and "computation", problem solving and decision making, comprehension and production of language. Cognitive processes use existing knowledge and generate new knowledge.

In psychology, cognitivism is a theoretical framework for understanding the mind that gained credence in the 1950s. The movement was a response to behaviorism, which cognitivists said neglected to explain cognition. Cognitive psychology derived its name from the Latin cognoscere, referring to knowing and information, thus cognitive psychology is an information-processing psychology derived in part from earlier traditions of the investigation of thought and problem solving.

Information processing is the change (processing) of information in any manner detectable by an observer. As such, it is a process that describes everything that happens (changes) in the universe, from the falling of a rock to the printing of a text file from a digital computer system. In the latter case, an information processor is changing the form of presentation of that text file. Information processing may more specifically be defined in terms used by, Claude E. Shannon as the conversion of latent information into manifest information. Latent and manifest information is defined through the terms of equivocation, dissipation, and transformation.

In psychology, the subconscious is the part of the mind that is not currently in focal awareness. The word subconscious represents an anglicized version of the French subconscient as coined by the psychologist Pierre Janet (1859–1947), who argued that underneath the layers of critical-thought functions of the conscious mind lay a powerful awareness that he called the subconscious mind.

Hidden personality is the part of the personality that is determined by unconscious processes.

Repression is the psychological attempt to direct one's own desires and impulses toward pleasurable instincts by excluding them from one's consciousness and holding or subduing them in the unconscious. According to psychoanalytic theory, repression plays a major role in many mental illnesses, and in the psyche of the average person.

The adaptive unconscious, first coined by Daniel Wagner in 2002, is described as a series of mental processes that is able to affect judgement and decision making, but is out of reach of the conscious mind. Architecturally, the adaptive unconscious is said to be unreachable because it is buried in an unknown part of the brain. This type of thinking evolved earlier than the conscious mind, enabling the mind to transform information and think in ways that enhance an organism's survival. It can be described as a quick sizing up of the world which interprets information and decides how to act very quickly and outside the conscious view. The adaptive unconscious is active in everyday activities such as learning new material, detecting patterns, and filtering information. It is also characterized by being unconscious, unintentional, uncontrollable, and efficient without requiring cognitive tools. Lacking the need for cognitive tools does not make the adaptive unconscious any less useful than the conscious mind as the adaptive unconscious allows for processes like memory formation, physical balancing, language, learning, and some emotional and personalities processes that includes judgement, decision making, impression formation, evaluations, and goal pursuing. Despite being useful, the series of processes of the adaptive unconscious will not always result in accurate or correct decisions by the organism. The adaptive unconscious is affected by things like emotional reaction, estimations, and experience and is thus inclined to stereotyping and schema which can lead to inaccuracy in decision making. The adaptive conscious does however help decision making to eliminate cognitive biases such as prejudice because of its lack of cognitive tools.

The information processing theories approach to the study of cognitive development evolved out of the American experimental tradition in psychology. Developmental psychologists who adopt the information-processing perspective account for mental development in terms of maturational changes in basic components of a child’s mind. The theory is based on the idea that humans process the information they receive, rather than merely responding to stimuli. This perspective equates the mind to a computer, which is responsible for analyzing information from the environment. According to the standard information-processing model for mental development, the mind’s machinery includes attention mechanisms for bringing information in, working memory for actively manipulating information, and long-term memory for passively holding information so that it can be used in the future. This theory addresses how as children grow, their brains likewise mature, leading to advances in their ability to process and respond to the information they received through their senses. The theory emphasizes a continuous pattern of development, in contrast with Cognitive Developmental theorists such as Jean Piaget that thought development occurred in stages at a time.

Psychodynamics

Psychodynamics, also known as psychodynamic psychology, in its broadest sense, is an approach to psychology that emphasizes systematic study of the psychological forces that underlie human behavior, feelings, and emotions and how they might relate to early experience. It is especially interested in the dynamic relations between conscious motivation and unconscious motivation.

In psychology, the psyche is the totality of the human mind, conscious and unconscious. Psychology is the scientific or objective study of the psyche. The word has a long history of use in psychology and philosophy, dating back to ancient times, and represents one of the fundamental concepts for understanding human nature from a scientific point of view. The English word soul is sometimes used synonymously, especially in older texts.

Philosophy of mind branch of philosophy on the nature of the mind

Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the ontology, nature, and relationship of the mind to the body. The mind–body problem is a paradigm issue in philosophy of mind, although other issues are addressed, such as the hard problem of consciousness, and the nature of particular mental states. Aspects of the mind that are studied include mental events, mental functions, mental properties, consciousness, the ontology of the mind, the nature of thought, and the relationship of the mind to the body.

Outline of thought

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to thought (thinking):

Animal consciousness

Animal consciousness, or animal awareness, is the quality or state of self-awareness within an animal, or of being aware of an external object or something within itself. In humans, consciousness has been defined as: sentience, awareness, subjectivity, qualia, the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind. Despite the difficulty in definition, many philosophers believe there is a broadly shared underlying intuition about what consciousness is.

Unconscious cognition is the processing of perception, memory, learning, thought, and language without being aware of it.

Personal identity philosophical idea of a person having a unique existence

In philosophy, the matter of personal identity deals with such questions as, "What makes it true that a person at one time is the same thing as a person at another time?" or "What kinds of things are we persons?" Generally, personal identity is the unique numerical identity of a person in the course of time. That is, the necessary and sufficient conditions under which a person at one time and a person at another time can be said to be the same person, persisting through time.

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Further reading