Greetings, folks. I am interested in the ways that different people think about issues that are important to them. I posted a question about this earlier (thank you to those who answered), and am looking for some more input now.
What is your way of thinking about an important issue? By “important issue” I mean any kind of professional problem, interpersonal issue, academic question, social or political matter, understanding art or a literary work, or anything else that you ever wanted to wrap your mind around. If you have some sort of routine for contemplation, such as the canonical solitary walk in a park, or if you have a system of mental steps that you try to follow when thinking over a question, or if you prefer to follow your instincts and feelings, please share it here. Who knows, perhaps we could all learn some good thinking strategies from each-other.
I try to analyze the question or the problem before reacting either verbally or physically. I think about how the problem or question makes me feel, then I try to think about how the person who asks or presents the problem perceives it, and finally I try to think of my problem in a worldwide perspective - Is this really worth stressing over? The question is usually NO, and I try to do the best I can to deal with it without losing sleep over it.
I usually try to approach questions or issues with a method of complete honesty. What I mean by this is that I try to be as impartial as I can when making judgment on an issue (this is hard to do, sometimes!), and look at the situation from an unbiased point of view. This usually takes the form of looking at both sides of a discussion or dilemma, or even simply admitting to myself that I really don't know enough about the topic to form an educated opinion. This is something that I think far too many people are lacking, even more significantly than those who don't approach problems or questions very analytically.
To me, a person who looks at a question from a strongly emotional point of view is still capable of making, in my opinion, a good conclusion if they begin from the point of taking honest account of what they know or don't know, and if they are additionally willing and able to relinquish any preconceptions that they take into the problem should those be revealed to be unsound.
I try not to think about global problems, not to get emotionally involved with things I cannot change - like wars, terrorism, abuse - political, sexual etc. I try to think about my personal problems and not just think but to work on some necessary changes I feel I need in my life. And not to dwell too much on my past, mistakes I've made, whatever. It's unhealthy, it's worthless and drains your energy. We all die in the end, but what prevents us from living better if we can?
Regardless of the issue, whether is is which shoes to buy or whether Greece citizens should stop protesting in the streets, I have personal opinions that rarely take too much time to contemplate.
I'm driven by answers, but I come up with answers quickly. I don't have the time to think things through. I choose the information that I use to form my opinions carefully. If it does not make sense, it probably means that it is invalid information.
Thank you all for your replies.
It was rather interesting to see that most of the responses indicated methods of thinking that are rather unlike my own. This is, of course, the whole point of my post, for us to see alternative methods of contemplating various issues. It seems only fair that I add my own general method to our “thinking bank” as well. It goes something like this:
Step zero: decide if I care about the issue in the first place. This is the least methodical or reasonable step, it is not even a conscious one usually, but it is implicitly always there. If an issue fails to interest one to begin with, they will not think about it, at least in a systematic way.
Step one: try to identify the vital questions. As Douglas Adams taught us, knowing the question is all-important, and often highly non-trivial. For example, if the issue is some kind of philosophical one, “important questions” may include how operand terms are defined.
Step two: determine what is actually known. For me, the answer is often “very little”. If the issue is interesting or pressing enough, I would proceed to look for some background information. Usually, through the internet, but sometimes through books, if I have relevant ones, or can easily get access to them.
Step three: try to answer the posed questions by analyzing what is known in an orderly way. Sometimes (if I am lucky, one might say) that method is mathematics. But all too often, some more generic deductive reasoning is needed. In general, I try to find relevant general concepts, and see how they may apply to the matter at hand. Occasionally, making preposterous-sounding analogies to other areas, where a system of thinking is more well-established, results in surprising new insight.
This process is not always successful. Often, I find that I don’t have enough information for me to reach a conclusion, or that I can’t continue reasoning in an orderly way. This, effectively, brings me back to step zero. I have to ask myself if I care enough about the issue to get more information, pose better questions, and look for other ways of analysis, or if I would rather just leave it be.
Of course, this is not the only way I think, and I would certainly not suggest it to anyone as a “universal algorithm”. This is just something that I try to follow if I have enough time and motivation.
I am sure that what I wrote seems far clearer to me, than to… well, anyone who did not write it. Hence, if you have any feedback that you would be willing to share, I would very much appreciate it.
I think I approach every issue with an equal measure of logic and emotion. I don't see how it is possible to be entirely logical or entirely emotional. Logic informs the emotions and emotions give added impetus to the logic.
It's interesting to me that you seem to isolate the activity of thinking to problem-solving or analysis. For me, thinking is a part of the "main me" and is a part of everything I do. Problem-solving or analysis are only individual types of thinking activity/skills. As I go through my day (or life), I use my thinking abilities as resources/tools, and pull out which among them are necessary to accomplish the "mental task" (or physical task). Like you say you do, I do not form conclusions unless/until I see sufficient evidence/proof. When it comes to forming conclusions I pretty much operate the way a court does. I only allow in some evidence, and it has to meet my personal "rules of evidence".
Without always being able to form conclusions, however, this means a person must figure out ways to further process the matter of having to live with uncertainly (and that's when reason and logic can again be called upon, but on a different level and to be used in different ways). Basically, reason and logic will eventually lead to one form of "resolution" (sort of), but I find that the trick is to be able to make peace with not having all the answers with certainty.
I turn every task (mental or otherwise) into an "intellectual operate". If emotions are involved I either separate myself from them, and deal with addressing them separately; or else I "put away in mental files" anything causing emotion until it is less emotions-evoking and more suitable for processing in an intellectual way. When I write (or want to explain some of my thinking in conversation), I'll off go back to the old "emotional files" and dig out whatever I've learned from something as a way of turning what was once emotional into something more useful in the "general bank of understanding". So, basically, regardless of what thinking has to be done, I'd compare it something as simple as reducing fractions in order to be able to go on to the next step. Thinking is at the root of every task in life (and in mental processing of any number of things), but sometimes there's no need to "reduce fractions" because the kind of problem-solving/analysis you've addressed usually involves "fractions that has already been reduced".
Of course, some people (especially teens and early twenties) enjoy "thinking for entertainment" because they're at a developmental stage in life when they're putting the finishing touches on who they are, at the core, but also where they fit in terms of the Universe and purpose. The activity of thinking is generally one most people find fun, and the more things a person can think up to think about, the more entertaining it gets.
Where I am in life is that I'm way past thinking for entertainment. I enjoy intellectual challenge, but I've pretty much got the process of problem solving (or at least finding peace with not getting an answer) downpat. At this stage in life (and since I've been past, say, early 20's), I run my thinking/self as if I'm a corporation with a lot of different departments. I'm the CEO; but I have several "secondary me's" who get to weigh in on any given task. Without getting into "them" all, there's "the emotional me", "the mother me" (three "mother me's, because I have three kids), the :"pure-reason" me, the "me that's the same me I've always been since a child", and the "me who has so much more depth now that I've spent a few decades being an adult". There are "tons" of "me's" (some less important than others), but when I'm being that "CEO" of "me, the corporation", I make it a point to invite "them" all to the meeting in order that I get the best input possible.
I would have answered, if only I knew how thoughts arise, in the first place.
I lie on the bed, stare the ceiling and try to think, but instead of thoughts dreams begin to pour.
The simplest way to think about anything is to find the second point of view, there are generally many views of the subject, but finding the opposite view is easiest to start with.
Take terrorism for example - consider yourself as a 'terrorist' in your own case with invaders running up and down YOUR streets with guns - you soon become a 'freedom fighter'.
Then try looking at the 'other' angles of the situation , as the father or mother of a child with no schooling, broken hospitals, and the neighbourhood 'freedoim fighters' trying to recruit your kids and teach them how to fire a gun and make a bomb to kill the 'invaders' - then consider how easily they will be persuaded by the emotional rhetoric of the local religious nutter who will be preaching death and destruction as they have for the last few thousand years.
It all becomes much more complex and less straight forward, and yet so much more simple.
I analyze the problem from every possible angle, think of different scenarios, imagine possible outcomes. Then I try to listen to my intuition and factor that in.
Your back still playing up old chap ??? I think you misread the OP - We are talking about thinking not bonking !
Oh, I don't know - the Earnest method may produce someone that will solve the problem without need for my thoughts and it's lots more fun! It just takes a few years.
The things that I care about....family, friends community, education, local politics, etc, I try to do the very best by them that I could
Unfortunately there are things that I have deep feelings about but don't feel like I can do anything about them. But it still saddens me deeply, such as poverty aboard, famine, inhumane treatment of others, and wicked governments with an agenda to keep the people down.
an important issue according to me is something which should be given a great attention.....!!
An importnat issue is something which needs to be discussed about..!!
we should discuss it with people who are very close to us and on whom we can trust..our family members are the one who will help us..!!
always keep that issue in ur mind..and whenever u are free or have some time just think on dat...take ur tym dont take any decision about the issue..without any discussion or in hurry..bcoz its about ur lyf ur future and even ur family's future....!!
So always think about that particular issue cooly..without any hurry...!!
this is what i think about an important issue.
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