MODES OF THINKING
“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death” (Albert Einstein)
Reality and culture, de facto memes, say us what to think, but regarding how to think the situation is not clear and not good at all. It will be a genuine disaster only after two phases of radical improvement. The School teaches us too little so the forces of counter-education: mass media, politicians, ideologies and spiritualities all act with their negative influence. In this area it is almost impossible to tell democracy (all modes of thinking e.g. rational or irrational are equal) from systematic indoctrination and the obstruction of adequate thinking.
No wonder that the modern Father of creative thinking, Edward de Bono, asks how was it possible that the human thinking had so many great successes in science and technology and so very few in human affairs?
And aIso : is it really possible to change the human thinking in such ways that it should be significant, practical, efficient and simple ? (I would replace ‘simple’ with ‘accessible’)
Great questions ! It seems obvious that most people use one set of modes of thinking for science and technology and a different one for human problems. As regarding change- in principle it is possible, however the Crisis is- as all crises, first of all a Crisis of thinking and this shows that shows now we are going fast in the wrong direction. To start, we have first to turn 180 degrees. Ask Goddess Athena, please- meet her in my ‘Stop Koalemos’
As regarding the modes of thinking, de Bono has worked out his Six Hats Method which is much used in the practice, however as I told in a previous writing here I don’t agree with the hat metaphor, plus I considered that there are too many modes. I am offerng here an alternative. It can and has to be used in combination with my problem solving method. (will be published next week)
My taxonomy comprises (only) 4 modes of thinking called: prelogical, logical, supralogical and postlogical. It is inspired from my life experience. It covers the whole area of human thinking.
Mode of thinking : Prelogical
Main characteristics: trials, luck
Musical equivalent: playing by ear
Missing: facts, cauzal connections, measurements
Symbol: a primitive necklace of colored beads
Mode of thinking: Logical
Main characteristics: professionality, seriousness, duty, rules.
Musical equivalent: playing by scores
Missing: verification of premises and of conclusions
Symbol: a white-black TV set
Mode of thinking: Supralogical
Main characteristics: vocation, mastery
Musical equivalent: a new melody is composed
Missing: control, limits
Symbol: colorTV set
Mode of thinking: Postlogical
Main characteristics: command, execution
Musical equivalent: singing in a choir. the same song
Missing: independent thinking, initiative.
Symbol: a chain because it is limited, captive, imposed thinking
Please note two essential ideas:
a) will be very difficult to find these ways of thinking in their pure form;
b) in no way I want to suggest that there are differences in quality and/or value or to establish some hierachy for these four modes of thinking; actually all are necessary in this orgy of complexity and chaos and relativity and dynamics we call life, and all modes must be used in the proper way at the right place and time.
At the first, the second third and the following sights, prelogical thinking appears as a primitive style of using your brain, coming from some age before our true human condition. Signs of recognition:
a) the cause-effect relationships are ignored or some false relationships or correlations are created and/enforced. These are considered as true without any demonstration (e,g, between the position of the stars and the destiny of a newborn) Shortcut thinking is very frequent.
b) no facts are caught, no data information is searched for, everything seems to be already well known. Everything is judged only qualitatively. Ignorance is cultivated and enhanced. c) no evaluations , measurements or calculations are made
Prelogical is many times just instant thinking/non-thinking.. The emotional commitment varies from cold- suspicion, doubts, primitive beliefs to incandescent= fanatical faith in truths obtained with no proofs. This sentimental load extends the area of action of prelogical thinking- from love with no reason to a wild and unstoppable hatred based on ad-hoc or fabricated reasons.
Prelogical thinking is based on non-systematic, quasi instinctual searches- with no plan and no method, reliance on inspiration and luck, on repeated trial and error procedures.
You don’t like it? Please take in account that 99% of the histoty of Mankind and 90% of our tales take place under the sign and in the spirit of the prelogical..
And over 95% of the humans as soon as they get free from the “you must memorize, but to think too” terror of the school, dip gladly in the delirium of lack of thoughts, enjoying the direct contact with a grossly. nude, reality. This includes a very narrow professional specialization- seen as an aim and an area per se, not as a part of an cultural whole,or a means for intellectual development.
The prelogic is fertile and gives fertile hybrids too. Combined with fear- fear of death and fear of life- and with the strong desire of being protected it generated religions and other spiritualities. The prelogical hybridized with the supralogical gives art. Prelogical is present everywhere; the best choice is to look it with sympathy but don’t use it for taking many decisions.
Passing to the logical mode of thinking seems to be an important progress. We have evolved, we work using a plan, systematically, with an adequate method, we are well informed, extensively and deeply. We are searching for the most subtle cause-effect relationships. We use proven algorythms for problem solving. We adapt to the situation and we think much and carefully. We know that the things have to be crystal-clear and they or true or not true. We don’t use half measures we judge correctly, at cold. Our insatiable curiousity heats us. We try to act thus that everything should be perfect. The problem is that reality is richer than we think and we will have some surprises. We have to think more and further because as Henri Poincare has shown: “Logic has not much to do with discovery and invention”
But what is than logic?
With a bit of exaggeration we can say that:
“Logic is the art of going wrong with confidence” (Joseph Wood Crutch)
“Logical thinking is that safe and beaten path on which you can go from one swamp to an other” (Karoly Simonyi)
Actually what is not able logic to do?
“Based on logic, we cannot distinguish the possible from the impossible (One of the many Laws of Murphy)
And what else cannot logic do?
“Logic alone cannot lead us to new ideas exactly as how grammar, alone, cannot inspire us to create a poem” (Mario Bunge)
How can this be explained?
The logic of the quantum, the logic of the alive as well as the logic of many other systemic aspect of the Universe, do not submit to the aristotelian liniar logic. (Prof Solomon Marcus –
- in his Book “The Shock of the Mathematics) Bucharest
Perhaps here it could e very useful if you read Edward de Bono’s paper about the Gang of Three:. http://www.edwdebono.com/guard.htm Excellent stuff for my essay in statu nascendi about wisdom and pseudo-wisdom of the ancient stories and teachings.
But how it happened that we got there?
The Cartesian, rectiliniar, rationalistic thinking of the bi-univocal caause-effect type made us difficult to understand the interdependencies and the complexity and it has lead to the necessity to remake the thinking process backwarda- from the detail to the whole.
Understanding of complexity requires the acceptance of paradoxes , of the the existence of contradictions, the possibility that there can be used different paradoxes. (I. Olteanu in his preface to the book “The Third Wave” by Alvin Toffler)
NOTE. I have tried to promote such a “richer” thinking in both my editorials at Info Kappa and now here in my blog. This had a mixed effect on the attractiveness of my writings.
What we have to do -then?
We have to change our system of thinking from the liniar, cartesian based on simple cause and effect relationships to a holistic one, comprising multiple and partially contradictory interdependencies and which is based on the concepts of system(s) and process(es) and on such dichotomies as: continuity – discontinuity, equilibrium - non-equilibrium, necessity –randomness. (Edgar Morin)
Conclusion; we get the impression that alike to all the other crawling beings, logic, pure intelligence cannot participate at the true intellectual ascensions. We need an other kind of logic too- one able to fly.
An other name for supralogical thinking is creativity. By definition and by necessity it is a warm, positive thinking. If the logical mode seems to be correlated to our inborn tri-dimensionality, the supralogical is pluridimensional.
The supralogicak is different from the logical exactly as a color TV is different from a black-white one. We consider it a discontinuous, jumping, “lateraL’ thinking (De Bono)
It goes by leaps, it is hazy, diffuse- here coexist contradictions, ambiguities, indeterminancies. It gives an impression of performance, of distinguished achievement.
But- we must say it there: the supralogical thinking is, in the same time, both inherent and strange to our human nature. It is a peak of the human abilities
Hans Selye has said: “Creative thinking is the most exalting activity and the
one that generates the highest, most valuable rewards a human can accomplish and achieve.”
The analogy with a peak goes further. Abraham Maslow has named “peak experiments”the cases when a man rises up to the authentical status of human being to a complete self-realization, to the emotional extase- or in our case –intellectual extase.
However the peak experiments are short and transitory, just because our human nature cannot bear more. The rarefied air of the peaks is not breathable.
And Maslow also says:
“We are too weak to endure high doses of greatness just as we cannot endure sexual orgasms that last more hours.”
Consequently the excursions in the supralogical mode do not last much. The creations of the supralogical must be censored, verified by the logic- using the very necessary critical thinking before they are transposed in reality.
One symbol of the postlogical thinking is a chain, an other could be a military trumpet calling soldiers to fight without any hesitation. It has a strong negative charge. Postlogical means actually that somebody else, a scientific, spriritual, ideological, political, whatever Authority thinks for you, in your place and you obey and follow. Even if you think or at least try it, you must think so as the authorithy, the dictator, the leader, the great specialist says to do. I am old enough to remember “ The Fuhrer thinks for us all” and Stalin’s discourse at the Congress of the Soviet writers: “Our writers can write exactly as they feel and think; but they MUST feel and think, as we, the Party, say them to do!” These are perhaps extremal cases of political postlogical thinking but there are other tragical cases too – as sects that commited collective suicide or the idea of “fans” promoted mainly for moneytheistic reasons reducing the value of so many young lives to fractional sizes, due to loss or under-development of personal identity... It is a very well known mode of thinking, as old as our world, it is watching you on all the roads and behind all corners.. Actually it is the most popular (and populist!) mode of thinking of all. Therefore I will cease to advertise it here.
Is it good or bad? It depinds on the circumstances- sometimes it can make you a slave, sometimes it is the unique way to escape from a great trouble. I recognize that I heve practicized it actively quite intensely when I was leader of a research laboratory. But I don’t feel shame or regrets- I have tried to solve professional problems. Discipline is a “sine qua non” condition for this.
There are very important differences regarding how these four modes of thinking make comparisons and analogies- these operations being vital both for intelligence and creativity. Thus:
- prelogical thinking makes erronated comparisons;
- logical thinking compares well things near to each other;
- supralogical thinking compares very remote things, thus creating bisociations that are essential for the creation of the new;
- postlogical thinking claims the existence of incomparable ideals
In order to solve real-life, real-work problems we need all these four modes of thinking.
My method of 4 thinking modes (it’s more four brains than four hats) is simple, straightforward, complex and fuzzy. And practical. I hope one day it will be taught in the schools.