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Thread: What is a thought?

  1. #1 What is a thought? 
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    Is it possible to grade thoughts in a hierarchical way ,so that we can say that thought A is more complex than thought B?

    If (a huge if) that were so could we then proceed to "reverse engineer" thoughts so that a group of primordial thoughts could be shown to exist?

    Might it even be possible that these (or preposterously "this" thoughts) thoughts served as a "bridge" between the physical and the metaphysical world?

    What candidates might there be for these /this primordial thoughts ?Would they have to be "wordless" as perhaps "worded thoughts" would be a level of complexity above what a "simple thought" might be?

    ps ,it was the ongoing "box of time" thread that made me wonder along these lines

    The Perspective of Time


    Last edited by geordief; September 11th, 2018 at 05:52 AM.
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  3. #2  
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Might it even be possible that these (or preposterously "this" thoughts) might serve as a bridge between the physical and the metaphysical world?
    Metaphysics means beyond physics. What makes you think there is such a thing?


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  4. #3  
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Might it even be possible that these (or preposterously "this" thoughts) might serve as a bridge between the physical and the metaphysical world?
    Metaphysics means beyond physics. What makes you think there is such a thing?
    Well I have an open mind (I don't know whether physical processes can be used to explain everything we see: for sure if they do we will have to take that on trust as we can never prove a negative and the complexity of the "world of the mind" is inexhaustible) .

    If my hypothesized "bridge" could be shown to exist what seems to be beyond physics (things that cannot at present be shown to have a physical existence) would perhaps be revealed at a direct consequence of physical processes (in a direct way ,rather than a general way)

    Since we can't prove a negative the lack of such a "bridge" might not show anything.....
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Well I have an open mind
    Better to keep it closed. You wouldn't want it to fall out of your head.

    (I don't know whether physical processes can be used to explain everything we see: for sure if they do we will have to take that on trust as we can never prove a negative and the complexity of the "world of the mind" is inexhaustible) .
    We could live in one of an infinite number of parallel worlds where there are a set of copies of ourselves (Deutsch). Might explain why new thoughts spring into our heads which are not memes. But its speculation.

    If my hypothesized "bridge" could be shown to exist what seems to be beyond physics (things that cannot at present be shown to have a physical existence) would perhaps be revealed at a direct consequence of physical processes (in a direct way ,rather than a general way)
    But everything is physical existence. There are no ghosts other than short lived ghostly particles we know of.

    So many people have tried to understand thought, but so far inconclusive. Recent scientists include Crick, Dawkins, Penrose. Philosophers such as Pinker and Dennett.
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    A place not of this physical world where thoughts are filed and stored, from the first to most recent, is that the suggestion (er...thought)?

    For me the metaphysical is no more than Wonderland was for Lewis Carroll. Only difference is that we're pretty sure in our minds that the Queen of Hearts is a playing card. Definitely tough not to think there's something truly mysterious about the universe, beyond that which we physically sense.

    Title asks what is a thought but I don't see anything else in OP that encourages an answer to the question posed, as if it's already been established. What are your notions re thoughts?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    But everything is physical existence. There are no ghosts other than short lived ghostly particles we know of.

    So many people have tried to understand thought, but so far inconclusive. Recent scientists include Crick, Dawkins, Penrose. Philosophers such as Pinker and Dennett.
    Take the supposed paradox "does a tree fall in the forest if there is noone to hear it?"
    does that "paradox" (not really a paradox imo) still exist if there are no minds to cogitate it?

    Is that (and are all other) questions built into nature whether or not there is any mentation involved ? When we come upon an idea ,do we just come upon it (prepackaged as it were) there just waiting for us to imagine it is our creation?

    This is a bit like the multiverse theory applied to ideas.Might ideas exist "preformed" and we stumble into them although it might well be that no two ideas are exactly the same similarly to how ( as I hear) no two electrons in the universe can occupy the same state ?(I may have garbled that).

    Edit: I seem to have inadvertently answered part of zinj's last post ,even though we cross posted.... I will have a closer look at his post now
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post

    Title asks what is a thought but I don't see anything else in OP that encourages an answer to the question posed, as if it's already been established. What are your notions re thoughts?
    You are right . I have very few concrete notions as to what a thought is. I hope I haven't fallen into the trap of making any assumptions.

    It should be easy to draw correlations between brainwave patterns and what the subjects describes as their thoughts (this has been done I believe) but is that all there is to it?

    ps ,if you go through my posts here and elsewhere I would be surprised if the ration of question marks to other text could be "bettered" by any other poster.That may be unheplfull as I get away with not "showing my hand" but it has always been my m.o. and I don't have the
    ballast of knowledge to make assertions (most things are and have been a mystery to me...even science)
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    I open the door to the outdoors for my cat, he pauses, after a bit of a wait he turns around and stays inside. What was going on in his head while he paused? Was he thinking, weighing options, making a decision? I'm not the type that thinks we're special, as in created, so I would find it interesting to know what the minimum requirement is for an organism to have a thought. What experimentation has taken place? For instance, if a one celled animal is confronted with two different foods, why does it choose one over the other?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    I open the door to the outdoors for my cat, he pauses, after a bit of a wait he turns around and stays inside. What was going on in his head while he paused? Was he thinking, weighing options, making a decision? I'm not the type that thinks we're special, as in created, so I would find it interesting to know what the minimum requirement is for an organism to have a thought. What experimentation has taken place? For instance, if a one celled animal is confronted with two different foods, why does it choose one over the other?
    A thought is just a reaction to a sensory input ,isn't it?

    Of course ,once the fuse is lit the thought can grow like topsy (feeding on itself in the process) but that is why in the OP I was going on about a hypothetical proto thought.

    So it is just (reaction to) sensation....?

    What we call intellectual (or emotive?) thought is when this proto thought goes into feedback mode.....
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    I open the door to the outdoors for my cat, he pauses, after a bit of a wait he turns around and stays inside. What was going on in his head while he paused? Was he thinking, weighing options, making a decision? I'm not the type that thinks we're special, as in created, so I would find it interesting to know what the minimum requirement is for an organism to have a thought. What experimentation has taken place? For instance, if a one celled animal is confronted with two different foods, why does it choose one over the other?
    A thought is just a reaction to a sensory input ,isn't it?

    Of course ,once the fuse is lit the thought can grow like topsy (feeding on itself in the process) but that is why in the OP I was going on about a hypothetical proto thought.

    So it is just (reaction to) sensation....?

    What we call intellectual (or emotive?) thought is when this proto thought goes into feedback mode.....

    Your cat is probably doing the same thing we do (well known to be selfish cusses after all) and would lay it all out quite explicitly if it had developed the skills along its evolutionary path.
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    A thought is just a reaction to a sensory input ,isn't it?
    i think it may have evolved from there. Perhaps hunger and predation played a role in the proto thought. Maybe a thought was basically ESP for an early organism, a little extra to calculate a potential outcome and enable it to avoid danger or look for food.
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    A thought is just a reaction to a sensory input ,isn't it?
    i think it may have evolved from there. Perhaps hunger and predation played a role in the proto thought. Maybe a thought was basically ESP for an early organism, a little extra to calculate a potential outcome and enable it to avoid danger or look for food.
    Would a thought allow an organism to anticipate the next sensation?If you simply react to each sensation in isolation
    it would not be as effective (for survival) as being able to anticipate when the next sensation would occur. Would that be something close to a proto thought?

    Would that be an early kind of meta physics ? Assimilating sensations (ie thinking about thoughts)
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    Would a thought allow an organism to anticipate the next sensation?If you simply react to each sensation in isolation
    it would not be as effective (for survival) as being able to anticipate when the next sensation would occur. Would that be something close to a proto thought?

    Would that be an early kind of meta physics ? Assimilating sensations (ie thinking about thoughts)
    Not saying my early ESP suggestion was metaphysical. You were asking about the proto thought and for me this early warning or having the ability to anticipate a future event could be what the first thoughts were all about. To me it would be an extra for whatever sense needed most at the time. I figured eating and avoiding being eaten were the two most urgent concerns for early organisms. I waffled about reproduction but can't have it without success with the other two....lol

    edit: ESP. As in extra sensitive perception.....an improvement of the sense ???? ...idk
    Last edited by zinjanthropos; September 11th, 2018 at 06:16 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by zinjanthropos View Post
    Would a thought allow an organism to anticipate the next sensation?If you simply react to each sensation in isolation
    it would not be as effective (for survival) as being able to anticipate when the next sensation would occur. Would that be something close to a proto thought?

    Would that be an early kind of meta physics ? Assimilating sensations (ie thinking about thoughts)
    Not saying my early ESP suggestion was metaphysical. You were asking about the proto thought and for me this early warning or having the ability to anticipate a future event could be what the first thoughts were all about. To me it would be an extra for whatever sense needed most at the time. I figured eating and avoiding being eaten were the two most urgent concerns for early organisms. I waffled about reproduction but can't have it without success with the other two....lol

    It would be interesting if there had been research into what the absolutely earliest form of life would have looked like and how it might have functioned.

    I am sure this research is ongoing but I am assuming that no records actually exist and so it involves speculation (I think I may have read somewhere that life on the Earth may even have begun independently at different times and places but am very unsure about that)
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  16. #15  
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    If you subscribe to the shellfish scene, then the origin of thought is in our jeans.

    They are in you and in me; they created us, body and mind; and their preservation is the ultimate rationale for our existence. They have come a long way, those replicators. Now they go by the name of genes, and we are their survival machines.” (The Selfish Gene, Dawkins)
    In all of earth's biology and history it took until 1976 to explain this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    If you subscribe to the shellfish scene, then the origin of thought is in our jeans.

    They are in you and in me; they created us, body and mind; and their preservation is the ultimate rationale for our existence. They have come a long way, those replicators. Now they go by the name of genes, and we are their survival machines.” (The Selfish Gene, Dawkins)
    In all of earth's biology and history it took until 1976 to explain this.
    Can genes be said to process sensory inputs in any sense? Could genes have been simpler when they first developed ? Could they have started off as a "proto gene"?
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by geordief View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by ox View Post
    If you subscribe to the shellfish scene, then the origin of thought is in our jeans.

    They are in you and in me; they created us, body and mind; and their preservation is the ultimate rationale for our existence. They have come a long way, those replicators. Now they go by the name of genes, and we are their survival machines.” (The Selfish Gene, Dawkins)
    In all of earth's biology and history it took until 1976 to explain this.
    Can genes be said to process sensory inputs in any sense? Could genes have been simpler when they first developed ? Could they have started off as a "proto gene"?
    Great question geo. I think genes are one of the most amazing things in the cosmos, particularly where life is concerned. i'm sure they have a lot to do with thought but I'm going to have to think on that . Gotta go....golfing
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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    Hey geo, was watching a Part 7 rerun of a BBC documentary on Netflix last night titled Walking with Dinosaurs. There was one moment when a T-Rex tried to take down an Anklyosaurus, a formidable prey animal with heavy plate armour that could crack a predator's incisors and a large bony club at the end of a long tail, deadly as hell. The CGI showed the two creatures jostling for position, the T-Rex looking for a soft spot while avoiding the club and the Anklyosaurus ambling for a position to unleash it. Narrator also said the prey animal had one of the smallest brains of any dinosaur.

    Got me wondering if thinking may have evolved from maneuvering for prime position. If life began at ocean vents as some suggest, then at some point as the creature multiplied the environment would be different for those farther away from the prime location. Evolving a method to jostle a way towards better environs might be a good evolutionary move. Maybe it could cannibalize its way to the front or develop propulsion systems, idk, just throwing some farfetched bs out there.

    Anyways it would probably be an evolved instinctive behavior, if so then about the two animals mentioned earlier, were they acting instinctively or thinking their way through the engagement? As was mentioned, one was supposedly a lot dumber than the other but was just as determined. I could easily assume one was deciding and the other just reacting or they were both reacting or thinking. Who the hell knows?
    All that belongs to human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be skeptical, or at least cautious; and not to admit of any hypothesis, whatsoever; much less, of any which is supported by no appearance of probability...Hume
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