TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

How does the thinking process work?

I know about different ways of thinking, like rational, analytical, synthetic, vertical, horizontal or holistic.

All this ways of thinking must have a common way of processing the thought.

We know, there are electrical impulses, like codes or energy pockets with data content, but in what way exactly those are processed seems a mystery.

I am thinking of some sort of matrix "how thinking works".

Share:
  • thumb
    May 13 2014: Here is what wikipedia has to say: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thought. You will get some contemporary and some historical perspectives.

    Because this subject has interested people for a very long time, and because this is considered something of a golden age for work in this area, you will find lots of interesting reading from an internet search. Examples, in addition to Pinker's which Rene already mentioned, are Kahneman's Thinking Fast and Slow, two different Edge publications (John Brockman) called respectively Mind and Thinking, and for the those with very serious interest in the subject, Principles of Neural Science, by Nobel laureate Eric Kandel.

    Scientific American on the popular end and Nature on the professional end both have journals/editions on this subarea.
  • thumb
    May 12 2014: Did you read Steven Pinker: How the mind works?
  • thumb
    May 16 2014: "Out of the mouth of babes" I don't know if you watched this yet but this hyper kid is probably the smartest human walking the earth in a long time and if you can speed up enough to follow him, he hit it right out of the park. "STOP" "stop learning and think in your own unique way" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uq-FOOQ1TpE

    Thinking is not a new thing and some of our greatest thinkers were on the planet thousands of years ago and I don't mean just the Greeks, from China two of the greatest thinkers of all time were Buddha and Confucius. Most of our modern philosophers can trace their roots and in fact copied philosophy from these two.

    But this is about knowledge not function, however their knowledge is the best guide to function, IMHO
    Here is a couple of new insights that helped me:
    “Anything you hate, you attract to yourself that you may learn to overcome that prejudice”- Paramahansa Yogananda
    “Wanting is pain”- Paramhansa Yogananda
    Both of these give us some insight as to how the brain functions.
    • thumb
      May 16 2014: tnx for this video!
      • thumb
        May 16 2014: Here is the book you were looking for in PDF format for free: http://web.mit.edu/alo/www/Papers/origin.pdf

        I took a peek at it.

        “Both biases clearly imply individually sub-optimal choices, yet these behaviors have
        been observed in thousands of geographically diverse human subjects over several decades, as well as in other animal species.” intro pg 2

        "It is the nature of the human species to reject what is true but unpleasant and to embrace what is obviously false but comforting"- H.L. Mencken

        “For example, the fact that those preferences most likely to survive over time are
        those that require a higher expected fecundity in return for taking risk implies the existence
        of a positive evolutionary “risk premium”, which we are able to derive explicitly and quantify
        as a function of environmental conditions.” pg3

        It appears that nature is a lot more sophisticated than one would imagine and that it is focused solely on constantly seeking the most effective fecundity. I also like the way they summed it up in this statement:
        “From an evolutionary perspective, financial markets are neither efficient
        nor irrational—they are merely adaptive”.pg26
        • thumb
          May 17 2014: A lot of dots!
        • thumb
          May 19 2014: A major flaw in the conclusion of the first example of the approach (pg. 2):
          "A simple numerical example of one of our results will illustrate our approach."

          If the choice was made on the basis of a 99 to 1 ratio of success, then the extinction should also occur.
          Something has to be wrong here, but I'll continue reading...

          Greetzzz
      • thumb
        May 19 2014: I will leave you to your calculations Rene, I am working on how to reconcile our sub-nutritious diet and outright poisoning of our systems leading to the insane and violent behavior of our species for thousands of years. Good luck. Let me know your conclusions. The sexual arousal analysis is interesting but I don't see it as one of our major problems.
  • thumb
    May 14 2014: To add a little more to the confusion: My personal main resource regarding human behaviour are on-line lectures/courses from various universities. I did not visit TED conversations for six months or so because of these full semester programs. Try these playlists and we will not hear from you till autumn or so...

    https://www.youtube.com/user/UCBerkeley/playlists
    https://www.youtube.com/user/StanfordUniversity/playlists

    Greetzzz
  • Dan F 50+

    • +1
    May 12 2014: Perhaps its best to digest your question in terms of an appreciation for our natural history.

    Our thinking process is the consequence of the origin of our species. The evolution of our mental facilities was likely the key factor that enhanced the survival rate of our distant human ancestors as they migrated around the world and expanded in range and numbers. During the modern era of our history, our population growth has been exponentially accelerating and the impact of our cumulative design and control of the world environment and one another is mind boggling.

    Obviously, biological evolution opened the door, but social evolution brought forth leaders, libraries and experts.

    The thought process reflects our senses and social setting and directs the days of our lives more than we may care to admit. This responsive mental behavior is certainly not unique to us humans. Significantly, our thought process is shaped growing up by parents and others often involving traditional dictates beliefs, etc.

    Employing abstract opened minded thought in terms of curiosity, knowledge, views, etc., is demanding time consuming and can be conflicting with friends and family. It may be the the answer for how the thought process works for most of us - is that it doesn't! The defense being that for many there is no reason to think because they already have learned and know everything important and their selective ignorance is bliss.

    The most astute open minded and studious among us would likely feel limited in defining how the mind functions, but a considerable amount is known and being learned, as reflected in modern medicine and through other specialized studies and experts. Times and things have and are changing for a growing minority of us since the days of the witch doctor and prophet on the hill.
  • thumb
    May 4 2014: The truth is after years and hundreds of thousand of man-hours spent trying to figure out the answer to your question, nobody and I mean nobody knows.
    All the stuff you hear in here or college for that matter are purely conjecture.
    Go ahead, form your own thoughts and present your case it will be just as close as anyone else's. You will be just as close as the "five blind men describing an elephant".
    And if you study it for the next 1,000 years the smartest thing you will still be able to acknowledge is that you know nothing about it.
    "The only thing I know for certain is there is nothing for certain"- Keith W Henline
    Does that answer your question?
    • May 16 2014: I really find your answer the most realistic of all. Many write just around the core and nobody grasps, what i mean.
      Our concepts and models are not mapping it and neuroscience is simply researching the organ and signals.

      After "thinking" about this I found one very outstanding connection towards language and the way we use our individual languages. There are different language groups, but i am talking about the way we use language.
      The way we speak is the way we think and the way we speak is strongly manipulated by education and media. One thing is grammatical rules, but the other is the difference between "sense and reference".

      Modern quantum physics suggests, we are the creators by observation and imagination.
      So, what do we imagine? We mostly express NOT what we exactly want, but explain it by the opposite.
      For example: "I want no war."
      ...if we create a sentence of this kind, what do we think and what images does it creates in our minds?
      ...by being against something we have our total focus on the thing we don't want and this is why we manifest it. we are trained that way... If you ask somebody to give you a top 10 list of things for a better world, i bet this list is 80% full with NO this and NOT that...

      because of this, i started to think about thinking and realized, that most of the time we don't really think. we just go through the categories and deliver a standard answer somebody else made up.
      because we hear it often, we tend to integrate it as TRUTH and repeat it when triggered by a question.

      since i am aware of this, i keep watching my language and there for control my thoughts.
      very quickly in every sort of situation our thinking glides out of control and goes down the "synthetic" road and pulls only standard answers without really rationally thinking about it.

      i bet in this "thought" is the key for the next civilization and a higher level of conciseness.
      • thumb
        May 18 2014: "Modern quantum physics suggests, we are the creators by observation and imagination." One that you left off was "affirmation" which is tied in with imagination. That is why Einstein said "Imagination is more important than knowledge". "The Secret" is a great movie about affirmation (the power to obtain anything you want by thought). On the internet we would call it a "link", an example in quantum physics is "entanglement", telepathy is another example between humans, swarms of birds, schools of fish, herds of animals, all demonstrate the same type of synchronous behavior and connection.
  • May 1 2014: We build, store, retrieve and compare internal pictures.
    • May 2 2014: i did imagine this things as "what" thinking does, but my questions is directed to the question "how" is the thinking process actually working.
      sorry, that i can't find better words to explain. if i could, i probably would not ask this question.

      let's say we have this categories you wrote and now we need a program to do actual thinking and using those abilities you pointed out. this is the moment i am talking about. the real processing.
      • May 2 2014: It involves electro-magnetism, 'bio-electro-magnetism.' And so does pain, ouch!, the signal of pain in the foot all the way up to the head. And heart-beat - bum-bum, bum-bum.
      • thumb
        May 21 2014: Hi Constantin,

        I just reread this topic (old habit) and I wondered if it would help you to browse through Wiki, searching: Artificial Intelligence. There is a huge list of projects and among this list you will also find open source projects
        Here is the list:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_artificial_intelligence_projects

        Because of my - almost obsessive - curiosity, I wonder why you are so interested. What is your goal?

        Greetzzz
  • thumb
    May 21 2014: How does the thinking process work?

    How about adding this question to the question above:

    How does the power of thinking help solve the most serious problems facing humanity?
    • thumb
      May 27 2014: To me: Ignorance is the most serious problem facing humanity. The power of thinking is the only way to solve this problem.