John Dewey’s Concept of ThinkingJune 27, 2021
I. The broadest meaning of thought includes everything that goes through the mind.
We say, “Your thoughts are worthless.” But in this case it’s just fantasies, “thoughts” that have no logical sequence and are devoid of reality. All unnecessary fantasies, any ‘memory’, a fleeting impression are of this order. The field of waking dreams in the middle of the day, castles in Spain, the random and unrelated ideas that come to our minds in times of depression is still thought in a broad sense. We are wasting a terrible time in this erratic game of petty fantasies and dreamy longings. The real thought is the linked succession, not a simple succession.
A person of low intelligence who aspires to be elected from his hometown of New England is reported to have said to his companions: “You think I am inadequate; however, always believe that I am thinking of one thing”. If, by the succession of things thought, thought reminds of the unexpected current of things passing through the mind, it differs from these things only by the fact that this unexpectedness does not satisfy it. Reflection presupposes the existence not only of successive ideas, but also of a certain number of successive ideas in an order, with each idea following the other as a corollary, and each being based on what came before it.
The act of thinking is limited to what transcends direct observation.
II. Even where the word ‘thought’ is used in its broadest sense, things not perceived by the senses in general apply; It does not apply to what we can see, taste, hear, or touch. If we ask the narrator of an event whether he has seen how such an event occurred, he might say, ‘no, I just ‘thought’ of it. His story is not the rigorous affair of an observation; invention has its share. In this order of ideas, it is necessary to emphasize the importance of stories and events, which are completely imaginary. They can have a certain regularity by being presented within a narrative. At the same time, fantasies, such as in a kaleidoscopic escape, pass through deliberately used interpretations to reach a conclusion. Children’s imaginary narratives show all degrees of internal continuity, some lacking order, others disorganized. If they are consistent, they imitate real thought; usually rational minds offer such thoughts. This form of design often precedes the reflexive type of thinking and also prepares the way for it.
However, it is not based on information, facts or an opinion based on facts; and only this separates it from reflective thought, even if at first glance it seems the same. Those who express such thoughts do not expect them to be believed; they just want it to be acknowledged that everything is very well set up and the game is well directed. They make good stories, they don’t bring information out of chance. Such thoughts are a bloom of emotions; they tend to describe one of these feelings, they become attached to an emotion, and this excitement helps them. Thought leads to faith in two ways.
III. In another understanding, “thought” indicates an opinion that has a certain basis, that is, real or assumed knowledge, knowledge that directly exceeds the existing place. Thus, it becomes clear in two aspects. To accept or reject, to accept what is close to reality, to reject what is far from reality This period of thought presents two different types… Sometimes we adopt an opinion without worrying about the reasons that support it. Other times, we examine those reasons.
For example, when we say “people believed the earth was flat” or “I thought you wouldn’t be there” we are expressing an opinion. We accept, adopt, affirm, approve of something. And yet, such thoughts can be simple unchecked assumptions. They may or may not conform to the truth because we have not been concerned with the measure to be the support of faith. These thoughts arise subconsciously, without being concerned with knowing whether they have reached the right conclusions. We collect them, we don’t know much about how they are. They come from dark sources, unknown voices. We adopt them and subconsciously insert them into our mental language. They come from tradition, education, imitation, they are all based on some authority or as if they are part of our property or combined with strong passions. Thus, these ideas are called preliminary ideas, that is, pre-reasoning ideas, and not actual reasonings based on an obvious fact.
It involves considering the act of thinking in its highest sense as the basis and consequence of beliefs.
IV. If thoughts turn to reflected thought, i.e., the conscious investigation of the foundations and conditions, the structure of belief, the thoughts that arrive at a belief are firmly attached to that belief. This result is different