thought, laws of

Traditionally, the three fundamental laws of logic: (1) the law of contradiction, (2) the law of excluded middle (or third), and (3) the principle of identity. That is, (1) for all propositions p, it is impossible for both p and not p to be true (symbolically, ¬(p ∧ ¬p)); (2) either p or not p must be true, there being no third or middle true proposition between them (symbolically p ∨ ¬p); and (3) if a propositional function F is true of an individual variable x, then F is true of x (symbolically, (∀x) [F(x) ⊃ F(x)]). Another formulation of the principle of identity asserts that a thing is identical with itself, or (∀x) (x = x).

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or thought

Action of using one's mind to produce thoughts, or covert symbolic responses to stimuli. Theories of thought and thought processes have concentrated largely on directed thinking, including problem solving. At the beginning of the 20th century, researchers focused on studying mental associations. Theorists of Gestalt psychology in the 1920s and '30s believed the elements of thought to be in the nature of patterns elicited from experience. Today these elements are often regarded as bits of information undergoing processing. Seealso cognitive psychology, information processing.

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Mind-healing movement that originated in the U.S. in the 19th century. Its earliest proponent, Phineas P. Quimby (1802–66), was a mesmerist who taught that illness is mental. New Thought was influenced by philosophers ranging from Plato to Emanuel Swedenborg, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, and Ralph Waldo Emerson and in turn influenced Mary Baker Eddy's Christian Science. The International New Thought Alliance (formed 1914) asserts that sin and illness stem from incorrect thinking. New Thought groups emphasize Jesus as a teacher and healer and proclaim his kingdom as being within each person.

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Thought and thinking are mental forms and processes, respectively ("thought" is both.) Thinking allows beings to model the world and to deal with it effectively according to their objectives, plans, ends and desires. Words referring to similar concepts and processes include cognition, sentience, consciousness, idea, and imagination.

Thinking involves the cerebral manipulation of information, as when we form concepts, engage in problem solving, reason and make decisions.

Thinking is a higher cognitive function and the analysis of thinking processes is part of cognitive psychology.

Basic process

The basic mechanics of the human brain cells reflect a process of pattern matching or rather recognition. In a "moment of reflection", new situations and new experiences are judged against recalled ones and judgements are made. In order to make these judgements, the intellect maintains present experience and sorts relevant past experience. It does this while keeping present and past experience distinct and separate. The intellect can mix, match, merge, sift, and sort concepts, perceptions, and experience. This process is called reasoning. Logic is the science of reasoning. The awareness of this process of reasoning is access consciousness (see philosopher Ned Block).

Aids to thinking

  1. Use of models, symbols, diagrams and pictures.
  2. Use of abstraction to simplify the effort of thinking.
  3. Use of metasyntactic variables to simplify the effort of naming.
  4. Use of iteration and recursion to converge on a concept.
  5. Limitation of attention to aid concentration and focus on a concept. Use of peace and quiet to aid concentration.
  6. Goal setting and goal revision. Simply letting the concept percolate in the subconscious, and waiting for the concept to re-surface.
  7. Talking with like-minded people. Resorting to communication with others, if this is allowed.
  8. Working backward from the goal.
  9. Desire for learning.
  10. Always be objective.


  1. Self-delusions: inability to confront relevant issues (roadblocks).
  2. Prejudice can lead to flawed thinking

See also


  • Eric Baum (2004). What is Thought, Chapter Two: The Mind is a Computer Program. MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-02548-5

External links

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