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List of Thinking-related Topic Lists
A thinking chimpanzee
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to thought (thinking):
Thought (also called thinking) – the mental process in which beings form psychological associations and models of the world. Thinking is manipulating information, as when we form concepts, engage in problem solving, reason and make decisions. Thought, the act of thinking, produces thoughts. A thought may be an idea, an image, a sound or even an emotional feeling that arises from the brain.
Nature of thought
Thought (or thinking) can be described as all of the following:
An activity taking place in a:
brain – organ that serves as the center of the nervous system in all vertebrate and most invertebrate animals (only a few invertebrates such as sponges, jellyfish, adult sea squirts and starfish do not have a brain). It is the physical structure associated with the mind.
computer (see § Machine thought below) – general purpose device that can be programmed to carry out a set of arithmetic or logical operations automatically. Since a sequence of operations (an algorithm) can be readily changed, the computer can solve more than one kind of problem.
An activity of intelligence – intelligence is the intellectual prowess of which is marked by cognition, motivation, and self-awareness. Through intelligence, living creatures possess the cognitive abilities to learn, form concepts, understand, apply logic, and reason, including the capacities to recognize patterns, comprehend ideas, plan, problem solve, make decisions, retaining, and use language to communicate. Intelligence enables living creatures to experience and think.
A type of mental process – something that individuals can do with their minds. Mental processes include perception, memory, thinking, volition, and emotion. Sometimes the term cognitive function is used instead.
Problem-solving strategy – steps one would use to find the problem(s) that are in the way to getting to one's own goal. Some would refer to this as the 'problem-solving cycle' (Bransford & Stein, 1993). In this cycle one will recognize the problem, define the problem, develop a strategy to fix the problem, organize the knowledge of the problem cycle, figure-out the resources at the user's disposal, monitor one's progress, and evaluate the solution for accuracy.
Abstraction – solving the problem in a model of the system before applying it to the real system
Analogy – using a solution that solves an analogous problem
Brainstorming – (especially among groups of people) suggesting a large number of solutions or ideas and combining and developing them until an optimum solution is found
Divide and conquer – breaking down a large, complex problem into smaller, solvable problems
Hypothesis testing – assuming a possible explanation to the problem and trying to prove (or, in some contexts, disprove) the assumption
Moral reasoning – process in which an individual tries to determine the difference between what is right and what is wrong in a personal situation by using logic. This is an important and often daily process that people use in an attempt to do the right thing. Every day for instance, people are faced with the dilemma of whether or not to lie in a given situation. People make this decision by reasoning the morality of the action and weighing that against its consequences.
Visual reasoning – process of manipulating one's mental image of an object in order to reach a certain conclusion - for example, mentally constructing a piece of machinery to experiment with different mechanisms
Qualitative reasoning – automated reasoning about continuous aspects of the physical world, such as space, time, and quantity, for the purpose of problem solving and planning using qualitative rather than quantitative information
^Dictionary.com, "mind": "1. (in a human or other conscious being) the element, part, substance, or process that reasons, thinks, feels, wills, perceives, judges, etc.: the processes of the mind. 2. Psychology. the totality of conscious and unconscious mental processes and activities. 3. intellect or understanding, as distinguished from the faculties of feeling and willing; intelligence."
^Google definition, "mind": "The element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness."