Man and MindThe first issue of Thinking in Ink established a foundation upon which to place the more practical aspects of thinking. The foundation provides you with the reason for exerting the effort to affect your thinking. It answers the question why? and leads to answering what?
So just what is thinking? To think is to say what? Thinking includes an abundance of mental activities ranging from reflection and reminiscence to analysis and generalization. This journal aims to cover every facet of thinking and demonstrate the importance of the focused mind.
This issue of Thinking in Ink will point to the direction of future discussions by defining a context and then pointing to the specific avenues on which we will concentrate.
There are three major categories in this issue: Man and His Existence, Three Alternatives for the Mind, and The Three Dimensions of Man.
Man and His Existence
Consciousness is the active state of mind; to be conscious is to be conscious of something. It is to be aware. By its very nature the mind works to assimilate the surroundings taken in by its senses. And while some of these processes take place subconsciously, observations that do enter one\’s active state of awareness become the cognitive components of thought. They, along with the processes of judgment and evaluation, give the mind its fullness.
Reality is the here and now. The term stands for that which objectively exists. Reality is not subject to the mind or its processes of thought. It is not, therefore, determined by the mind. Reality is what it is, and the mind is capable of knowing it.
Alternatives of the Mind
Consciousness is an active process directed in large measure by your will. Three alternatives characterize the breadth of your control, two of which require deliberate effort, and the other ” the most common ” requiring very little. The alternatives are to evade, to float, or to focus.
Evasion demands the deliberate effort not to think – to essentially halt the processes of an active mind. As the antithesis of thinking you might think that it would require no effort. Ironically it does. Consciousness is an active state; you might say that your mind has a proclivity to think. It is actually difficult not to think. Not thinking actually takes effort.
Evasion is a perversion that undercuts the very essence of your humanity. As a practice, evasion is packaged in many ways, as a method for spiritual enlightenment (eastern mysticism), as a relaxation technique, or sometimes even as a success formula (the paradox of intention).
Of the three alternatives, floating requires the least amount of effort. To float is to drift mentally according to the immediate happenings in your environment. So as the destiny of a hot air balloon is subject to the wind the destiny of a floater is subject to what\’s going on around him.
Floating is the most common of the three alternatives. This relaxed state of mind is one that is constantly occupied but never really challenged. The floater\’s thinking has no explicit aim, and the effort to think is used merely to satisfy the need of an active consciousness.
The third alternative is to focus. It is by far the most difficult, and it requires an extreme amount of effort and patience. It probably stands as the least common alternative yet it offers the greatest rewards.
Focusing is a thinking governed by you. It is a thinking directed to an end, and unlike floating, it is clearly goal-directed. It is discriminating. Each consideration that enters a train of focused thought enters only by your will. Focusing is the only alternative that is able to derive the true nature of problems and then that understanding in the mental fore.
A focused individual is clear, precise, and goal oriented. He has a keen sense of priority, and unlike the floater he has a specific mental agenda. Mental organization is a necessity for those who focus. Evaders escape the need for it, and floaters find no need for it.
- Consciousness works to assimilate information sensed from reality.
- Consciousness begins the organization process.
- Mental health is contingent upon someone\’s connection with reality.
- Thinking can be represented as three alternatives: evasion, floating, and focusing.
- Evasion requires effort due to the nature of consciousness.
- Floating is the most common; it is thinking in order to satisfy an active consciousness. Focusing is least common; it requires the most effort, and offers the most reward
The Three Dimensions of Man
In his book Aristotle for Everybody, Mortimer Adler describes Aristotle\’s three dimensions of man ” as a knower, a doer, and a maker. These fit nicely with the three basic aims of thinking, to learn, to solve problems and to create. Let\’s take a brief look at each one of these dimensions.
Consciousness constantly works to assimilate information retrieved by the senses. By its nature consciousness is working to retrieve man\’s base of knowledge. In this respect man\’s primary and natural dimension is as a knower ” a knower of reality. Consciousness establishes man\’s tendency to know by providing the basic assimilation.
A free man makes his own choices; he is responsible for his own course of action. To make the proper choices man must think and consider the things important to him, the things he wants to protect ” his values. Man isn\’t simply like an animal, acting to survive; he acts to achieve and protect the things that are important to him.
The third dimension of man, as a maker, is contingent upon his ability to know and to do. This dimension deals with the nature of man that allows him to create and build physical things like buildings and equipment as well as ideas like democracy and freedom. To imagine and to create man must first think and make choices.
Levi Hill ” Copyright 1993-2003