Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How I Think

I think intuitively.

Let me explain.

Early in my life as a student, when I was learning to think, it dawned on me, in the late hours in the dead of the night, that intuition is nothing but logic operating very quickly as if instantaneously. I think it was after reading Bergson.

Deduction, Induction

Logic is nothing but a very mechanistic way of thinking. There are two major approaches. Deduction is from the general to the specific. Induction or inference is from the specific to the general.

While these two approaches to logic look fairly simple and straightforward, their proper application requires a lot of practice so that one does not fall into the trap of "gross" generalisations or pedantic "frog in the well" or "frog under the coconut shell" mentality.

The common illustration of the problem of logic is the story of the black swans. In England at a time when they were beginning to think, they saw and concluded that "All swans are white" until they discovered Australia and discovered they are wrong when they saw black swans there. The truth is seldom neat and tidy.

Logical, No Truth

But logic is never the path to truth. Logic is just a method to ensure that a view or an argument is properly constructed and laid out - so that it can be communicated clearly to other people (most often for the purpose of trying to convince others to share or take up one's view). This is a very tedious thing to do - to work out each and every little step very clearly and linearly along a line (not necessarily a straight line). In modern day example, this is nothing more than just a circuit board.

What is arrived at is not the truth, but a logical conclusion. "If you build it like this, it will end up like that." And the "that" is not the only "That" but one of many possibilities that can be done if the logical sequences are constructed differently. A different route, a different destination. (In modern day religious endeavours, different routes, same destination, hopefully.)

So, then, what is truth? How do we know truth?

My proposal to myself is to be learn to think logically first - to be stringent in my logic.

This requires absolute honesty. Polite society calls it bluntness. It is very hard to be bluntly honest in the complex world of networking today. Each person holds a conclusion that is personally meaningful to him or her. It is dangerous to shake their confidence in the truth they hold for themselves. That truth may be proven to them by the beneficial effect that position they hold has on them - even if the logic of that conclusion may be very difficult or impossible to prove - on the basis of existing tools and concepts and understanding.

Completeness of thought requires us to accept that there are conclusions that logic can prove and there are also conclusions that cannot be proved by logic. It is the logic of all possibilities: the propositions and the null propositions.

The totality of things or everything is the truth or the reality. It is the most general theory or view that is the truth of things.

It may be a fool who tries to assimilate this total view, but to me this is absolutely necessary in order to be able to understand where I am today and to accept things as they are and to be able to anticipate where things will go in future and how things will transform from moment to moment.

The nature of each and every thing determines how each will develop as time goes by, by itself. The person who has understood the nature of things knows how each thing will develop and how everything will interact with each other. Laozi calls this the Tao or the Way. Some other clever chap even says "I am the Way."


How I think therefore is very simple and basic. First, learn to think logically. Then after, let the thinking go by itself and think intuitively without boundaries.

The mind will expand and then assimilates all that it sees and perceives. The processing of everything simultaneously and completely requires the mind to be undirected so that it is unprejudiced - and this can be done by letting thoughts disappear. The subsequent realisation is the end-result of that alchemical processing called meditation - the highest of which is a condition called no-mind. (I am reluctant to say "zen" because it is a well-known term that is easily misunderstood.)

Discrete and Continuum

Simple thoughts are usually categorical and boxy. "He is good." "She is bad." But all generalisations are false, including this one (as someone once said).

The reality is that we have everything in each of us - it is just a matter of cultivation and emphasis. But all blankness and all possibilities will be narrowed as we exploit our opportunities and take on a specific direction or path. Statisticians call this reducing "the degree of freedom." I call it "using up one's bullets." E.g. "You have three bullets. You have fired two. What are you going to do with the last one." Or, "you have one bullet, but you have multiple objectives to achieve. How are you going to achieve them all?"

We see the wonderful variety of life on earth and we wonder who create them all. But they may just spring into existence when conditions are right for things to come into being. Furthermore, this is only what we can see. How about those we cannot see - even with a microscope - the wind we create with the move of a hand. The Great One asked, "Where is the light when the flame is gone."

There is further room for thought when we realise that even the things we can see today are only those we can see today. It does not mean that other things did not exist just because we do see them today (dinosaurs). Things we see may just be things that have come to prominence as a result of long process of historical selection or preferences.

There could be a continuum of infinite human types in the male-female combination, including unisex and non-sex and everything in between. It is just a matter of the degree of maleness or femaleness in each of us.

If we extend this perception and think of the human race, we therefore realise a commonality among ourselves the variation of which can only be due to conditioning to external factors. We are all subject to the same kinds of concerns and problems. In the end, everything boils down to the issue of survival.

It is only by being able to think in a more general form can a person reach out and touch the universe. Be at one with the universe. At this point, we follow our hearts. It is only when our hearts are pure that we know truth.


dianna said...

We seem not to have made much progress about how we think since the days of the ancients.

Even with modern-day dipole scanning of our brain processes using technologies like magnetic resonance imaging, the same questions remain to be answered with sufficiently wide and proof-secured acceptability.

Maybe that's because we have only one tool, our brains. When we think about thinking, we use our brains to try and crowbar out an answer about something beyond how our tool has constructed our thoughts.

We are trying to project our brain into a different concept called mind. Yet the formulation of that concept is made using the electrochemical processes of the brain. If these processes are found wanting or limited by individual disposition and nature, how can we then know the concept of mind so constructed and its output is the truth and nothing but the full truth?

We may therefore, logically, conclude that at best we as mortals are only availed partial truths at our respective moments.

Which means that if we can accumulate partial truths submitted by all members of the entire human race and then sum them integrally over all times, we should be able to approximate closer and closer to a total truth.

Therefore the total truth will only be revealed to us if we as mortals are also totally unified as one.

Which may thus explain why the sages untethered their selves to try and embrace unity in order to find a pathway to a/the total truth revealed to a/the total mind.

With that 'thought' as the backdrop, let us return to the matter of thinking.

We start with a question. Is it a range of frequencies?

When we sleep-dream, our brains generate multiple images which may have logical memory constructs but are presented in semi-incoherent order.

When we day-dream, the coherence solidifies a bit like the transition from pure flow liquid to semi-crystalline liquid; we willfully construct a logical story and the force of that will, so apparently absent in sleep-dreaming, seems to emanate from some emotion or desire.

When we think normally, such as me writing this, and you reading it (with utter contempt), the frequency of ordering becomes more stable, like a solid. And while the emotions may still be around, they are willfully placed in the backburner so that focus can be made on symbolizations, in this case words, associated with ideas held together by the common rules of logic and communication.

Therefore to get to the total truth without having to appeal to the entire human race to unify, we should individually be looking for the right pathway frequency of thinking.

But there is a problem. Heisenberg said we cannot precisely determine both position and momentum at the same time. Only one at the expense of the other. Which seems to say we cannot absolutely predict in advance any event in the physical world. Or if we try to measure something, it changes so that we can never get to the essential property of a thing.

But the only world we know is about things. That's why we put premium on ideas. But ideas are symbolic representations of outputs from our thinking processes which in turn are abbreviated tools to reach a total truth which cannot be determined precisely.

dianna said...


Having thus reversed ourselves into a corner of our own making, what is the way out?

If we next use our brains, none. We will never know whether mind exists or what it will reveal.

If we next use our emotions, we will have to first ask whether our emotions are exclusively constructed from our thoughts.

If the answer is yes, we have only infused brain with itself to make mind. But something made only of itself is but itself. We are back into the corner.

If the answer is no, we will have to ask first whether that is but a trick played by our own brains on us in order to overcome its own paradoxical dilemma. For again we will never know that the minds we have borrowed from time will yield the real total truth.

And then, just as we are sinking into our moment of darkest despair, a nightingale sings and a small pencil of light enters from the shutters.

Trying to ignore that it was probably a light from the headlamps of an oncoming car, we suddenly remember one other property of nature - quantum tunneling.

A thing tunnels through a barrier to another place instantaneously.

Our logically ruled brains suffer a leap of faith. So we next ask what is faith? Something we believe in independent of observations. And how is faith sustained? When observations incrementally reinforce the faith. If observations reinforce faith, how can faith be independent of observations, someone with better things to do, asks?

Do and find out, replies Goethe (“The deed is everything, the glory is naught.”)

In a manner of speaking, our lives are short. We go about every day moving physical things commanded by the thinking processes of our brains.

To be efficient while hoping to be effective but consistently individualistic, we hone those processes to make selections which thus create preferences whose defense evokes other 'things' called emotions. We then add emotions to logical thought processes and call it all intuition in a new process which reflects our faith that there is something around that is bigger and less mundane that the sum of all parts.

Occasionally, when we least expect it, observations come rolling like a ball to our feet to say that the emotion of faith is not without comprehensible foundation. In other words, like quantum tunneling, faith proves itself.

Which remains to ask whether Bastick would have agreed to the taking of such liberties. He said intuition has 20 properties. Do you have time?

Here they are:

quick, immediate, sudden appearance;
emotional involvement; preconscious process; contrast with abstract reasoning, logic, or analytic thought; influenced by experience;understanding by feeling--emotive not tactile;
associations with creativity; associations with egocentricity;
intuition need not be correct; subjective certainty of correctness;
recentering; empathy, kinesthetic or other; innate, instinctive knowledge or ability; preverbal concept; global
knowledge; incomplete knowledge; hypnogogic reverie; sense of relations; dependence on environment; and, transfer and transposition.

After that, it is time to warm up yesterday's left-overs and then go out to make some 'observations'.

If we are pure in heart, we don't need much to get on to the next day. But that is small consolation for not being able to make it happen for others to get more so that they will suffer less.

Suffering is the basal diet of all human life. Thinking hardly changes anything. Mercifully, the wheel of life turns until one doesn't know it will soon be over.

dianna said...


etheorist said...

This does look like my type of book.

Unfortunately (and happily), I have outgrown meta-criticism by weaning myself off those mathematically elegant models by being fully immersed in the real world.

There should be a new theoretical approach for economics based on big solid discrete changes.

We are now in the world of big colossal transformational changes. Any thing like that, Neil?

dianna said...

All-in-one unified economic modeling of the impacts of globalization, resource scarcity, climate change, graying demographics, BRIC emergence, west-east power shift, trade geopolitics, integrated market mechanism, new financial order, government finance, sustainable development, social network markets...?

The world awaits either etheorist or the Santa Fe Institute to produce it.

Meanwhile....rimming the target:

Submit a formal title so that a better search can be attempted.

Btw, for want of an email address, you are denying yourself all of the world's best. Any field. The following is comparatively....nothing: