Thinking, contd.

A reader wrote in with the comment, in essence, that just because you think you’re thinking, doesn’t mean you’re thinking. This was in response to my column about the virtue and necessity of thinking (see The Glory of Thinking, Daily Dose of Reason 9/30/09). That, of course, is true. To properly be called thinking, a mental activity has a certain kind of identity. In other words, someone who’s actually thinking is operating (probably subconsciously) on the premises that there’s an objective reality, and reality can be discovered or commented upon based upon the use of reason. Reason is the integration of objects or events that you perceive into more abstract concepts. If you think that you’re thinking, but your “reasoning” consists of arbitrary inferences, unfounded generalizations, context dropping, or made-up non-facts, then of course you’re not truly thinking. That’s why so much psychotherapy and other intellectual pursuits are a waste of time. If the mental activity drifts away from, or even breaks with, the notion of forming conclusions about actual facts in an objective reality, then the “thinking” is worse than worthless. The possibility of error does not eradicate the value of thinking, however. It actually shows how important real thinking actually is. The concept “thinking” implies a careful and thorough interaction between one’s mind and an objectively, rationally understood reality; otherwise, it’s not thinking.