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.
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
is the science of reasoning
. The awareness of this process of reasoning is access consciousness (see philosopher Ned Block
Aids to thinking
- Use of models, symbols, diagrams and pictures.
- Use of abstraction to simplify the effort of thinking.
- Use of metasyntactic variables to simplify the effort of naming.
- Use of iteration and recursion to converge on a concept.
- Limitation of attention to aid concentration and focus on a concept. Use of peace and quiet to aid concentration.
- Goal setting and goal revision. Simply letting the concept percolate in the subconscious, and waiting for the concept to re-surface.
- Talking with like-minded people. Resorting to communication with others, if this is allowed.
- Working backward from the goal.
- Desire for learning.
- Always be objective.
- Self-delusions: inability to confront relevant issues (roadblocks).
- Prejudice can lead to flawed thinking
- Eric Baum (2004). What is Thought, Chapter Two: The Mind is a Computer Program. MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-02548-5