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What Is Thought ? Answered

Thought isn't a white donkey against a blue sky.
Thought isn't a young girl singing an old song.
Thought isn't a windmill in a tunnel.
Thought isn't a saffron robed monk pissing in the snow

What is thought ?


Thought is the activity of the conscious mind, where we produce ideas, develop answers, form opinions and view mental imagery.

You're producing an activity listing.
I like the imagery ;-D


6 years ago

It was impossibly hard for me to select the best response to this question.
The answers were provoking and caused me to reconsider there could be
a way of defining   What is  thought ?
Instead I chose to send thinker patches with a hidden message to all participants.

Congratulations canucksgirl  for being the first to discover and
PM mention the embedded message in the thinkers patch.


Thought is our self-referential acknowledgement of the existence of self. Deep.

A circular thought ;-D
You neatly avoided the objective trap

So you think I fell into the objective trap?

You get the best answer for being the first to discover and PM mention
the embedded message in the thinkers patch. 

Indeed. Like a famous scientist said to the question of 'what is magnetism' -- we can usually break things down into smaller and smaller parts, digestible chunks. Magnetism exists because it is magnetism, like the relationship between the electric force and the magnetic force. He goes on to tangent on every link he can string together -- none of which answer the question, because you can't explain it in terms of another thing that a layperson would know.

thought is far too complex in its simplicity to describe by a layperson such as myself :D

Thought is the output of a large set of interacting neural networks.


Brain mechanics description for sure :-)

I did a year on training neural networks thinking it could be the easy
method to replace heady designing multi input GO / NoGO AI software.

Yep. I'm a particle physicist, which is pretty much the poster child for materialist humanism, eh? We make extensive use of trained (feed-forward) neural nets for event selection, but (especially after three years of observing my daughter!) I think Hebbian self-organizing networks are probably a better description of brain mechanics.

"Cells that fire together, wire together."
I've seen time lapse of a synaptic growth it was amazing to me.

Yes, indeed. The coupling of chemistry, electricity, and biology involved is as close to a "mystery" in the religious sense as I've encountered in science. I know that it all has a material basis, and I can even work through a lot of the math involved, but the end result (e.g., me writing this paragraph and thinking about it!) is so hard to connect to its underpinnings...

Underpinnings, TM,  mental imagery, dreams and the subconscious
all balled together including quantum interactions, you think ?

I'm not at all convinced that there is (or even needs to be) anything particularly "quantum" involved. That word, today, tends to get used primarily by people more or less ignorant of the underlying scientific data -- whether that is (pseudo)biologists ignorant of physics, or theoretical physicists ignorant of biology.

To me, the issue is exactly the same as that of the origin of species -- the issue of scale. Evolution happens because we have time. Consciousness happens because we have many.

When you and I consider how rare and unique thought which translates
to coherent text that may present a new concept for the reader to think on.

I have to consider the trillion upon trillion of parallel synaptic branching 
pico decision events can occasionally be influenced by a single tipping event that is outside our immediate skull. Call it a divine event or a
quantum spin that gets flipped while the particle is not in this universe.

May more often then we know be occurring in our well ordered lives. 

Along the same line where then does original though come from or is EVERY THING a product of previous experience?

Is that Eureka moment just related to how much you have done before?

That can not be....

You have certainly had many a fine Eureka moments,
that have used old thoughts, with that wonderful spark
of realization that comes from a unique arrangement of
revitalized cognitive function ;-D

I can easily see that most of my thoughts are a product of my direct experience. I make jewellery and often see things that give me ideas (often because I don't see the object clearly!)


This doesn't explain those clear thoughts most people (who think) have especially when they first awake. I have solved many a problem by sleeping on it!

If only I could recall exactly HOW I made that anti-gravity device the other night!.

How I would love to understand how to repel the attraction between massives.
Any interesting insights into the nature of gravity are welcome thoughts indeed.

Describing how quarks combine to make protons and neutrons in the nucleus of the atom, let alone how the forces are measured and computed bewilders me.

I'm no scientist, just the engineer looking for a reduction of understanding to practical application ;-D

After looking round the questions and answers I come to the conclusion that Thought is noticeable by it's absence!!!

Thought is the processing of inputs. Action (or inaction) is the output.

The GO-NoGO action found in neural nets :-)

Thought my friend, in my opinion, is the human way to simplify the complex chemical and physics reactions and interactions that are taking place extremely rapidly in our minds when we are doing something or something about something...
And I bet that this is the main reason why it is extremely difficult and almost impossible for the human mind to create something new or rapidly understand new ideas that he/she have never heard off before!
Furthermore, a fun thing to give you a clue about how fast we can do things sometimes without noticing, is that right now when I am thinking about what I am going to write and moving my fingers with speed above the keyboard and typing.. (Try typing a small sentence after you read this and you will smile at the idea :)...)

Good ideas occur after the calming of transcendental meditation !

Not sure.

I'll think about it.

Honestly potent response ;-D

I think therefore I am! (Descartes)

Cogito ergo sum
A set of good thoughts referencing a deep thinker :-)