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Where do our thoughts come from?

Have you ever wondered where your thoughts come from? Is it simply a matter of the hard wiring of the brain? For example, when an idea comes to you suddenly, where did it come from? Is there more to this than we currently understand?


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  • Mar 7 2011: Here's an example to illustrate how I think new thoughts might appear:

    Let's say that first I'm acting under the assumption that what I see is real and true, and everything I remember happened exactly as I remembered it.
    Then one day I have an unusually realistic dream. I could have sworn that it was real! When I woke up I was chocked to find out it was a dream. I feel disoriented and cheated by my own mind.
    And then the natural question follows "what if I'm still dreaming? How can I KNOW that this isn't still in my dream? "
    When pondering the question further, I might ask "how can I know that all my life hasn't been a dream?", "what if some of my memories have gotten mixed up with memories of dreams?" or "Maybe I'm just a character in someone else's dream? probably a butterfly or maybe a dog!"

    I chose that example because I think everybody has thought that thought at some point in their life. (Maybe they had thought about it a little bit but not so carefully before they saw The Matrix) But they're not alone in thinking that thought, it occurs in the unrelated minds of different people. And it's not so strange, I think the line of reasoning here comes pretty naturally. Often thoughts are less unique than we'd like to think (I'm not at all saying that people are identical but still, our minds follow the same mechanisms of reasoning). I myself don't believe that the world is a dream or anything.

    I think new thoughts surface when something messes up our earlier assumptions about the world. Like when two fields of knowledge meet. Idea (or more likely "set of ideas") + Idea can become a new Idea. Tough not necessarily, some things are just completely unrelated. But it's all about seeing things in a new light.
    • Mar 8 2011: Hi Vilgot, As I read this I could not help but think about the Matrix, which you also mentioned :-). I understand your concept of "collective" thinking, so to speak. I guess some of it is socially engineered - for example the thing we called culture which occurs at different scales, ranging from a country to a region, city, community and family. In other cases, there have been scientists in different parts of the world working on the same ideas, unbeknownst to each other. In these cases, I suppose the existing knowledge leads logically to certain ideas and certain paths. Perhaps part of why we exist is to use this collective thinking to learn to live together in harmony with each other and with the environment - thereby cultivating our own spiritual development. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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