How Thought Works

Submitted by admin on Thu, 09/01/2016 - 12:38

Ideas from Text Analysis

This may not be the 'normal' place to find realisations that are 'spiritual', but it seems to me that everybody usually concentrates on the ultimate nature of the mind, but the products of the mind are ignored. To me, the ideas below provoke a lot of thought about 'how it all works'.

  1. Ideational. Thought - Message - Text. The Thought of the author is transformed into the Message he wants to communicate, which is then put into Text (or Words if spoken). From any one thought, there is a choice of messages, and for any message there is a choice of many different textualisations. The messages and texts which are NOT communicated can be as important as those which are. (Ref. 1)

    If thoughts are put into words, then conversely, do words always represent the existence of a thought ? Can the original thought be derived from the words in the text ?
  2. Pattern. Situation - Evaluation - Basis for Evaluation. Several of the authors assert that the basic simple pattern of ALL texts and ALL communication is Situation - Evaluation - Basis for Evaluation. That is, you read this page, then you evaluate it as you wish, then (perhaps) you look at the reasons why you have evaluated it this way. This statement is about ALL texts, and it is well worth exploring further. Does this imply that situation-evaluation-basis is the basis of ALL THOUGHT too ? Other authors expand this root pattern into more specialised ones, such as for technical writing :- Situation - Problem - Solution - Evaluation - Basis.
    Narrative is said to have a pattern of Setting - Complication - Resolution - Evaluation - Moral, Many other fields have their own variations on this one basic pattern. (Ref. 2)

    How deep is this patterning ? If it is clear in a text, then it must be in the thought too ? But, is it implicit in the nature of the mind too ? (using the above idea about thought, message and text)
  3. Implicit Dialogue The imaginary reader - another author claims that ALL text proceeds as if the author were being questioned by his imaginary reader with questions such as - Why is that ? What do you mean ? What is good about that ? What comes next ? (Ref. 3)

But, does all thought also proceed in the same way of imaginary conversations ?

Are these patterns (of implicit dialogue, thought-message-text and situation-evaluation) purely aspects of communication, or are they deeper than this. Are some or all of these patterns implicit in the mind too ? and then, are they implicit in the NATURE of the mind ? Or, as some 'spiritual schools' seem to insist, is the mind really not important at all ? But if the mind is not important, is THOUGHT important or not. And, if thought is not important, then why do we have it, what is it for ?

All quotes are from "Advances in Written Text Analysis", edited by Malcolm Coulthard, Routledge, London, 1994. (However, all of the above text is my own words, adapted or summarised from the texts)

Ref. 1 - I have adapted this from the comments of Coulthard in the preface, pps xi - xii and his own Chapter 1, "On analysing and evaluating written text"

Ref. 2 - from Chapter 4, p.56, Eugene Winter, "Clause Relations as Information Structure: two basis text structures in English"

Ref. 3 - from Chapter 3, p.29, Michael Hoey "Signalling in Discourse: a functional analysis of a common discourse pattern in written and spoken English"

Direction of thought

As an extension of the above ideas ……… Once I managed a site at an Agfa photo film factory in Germany, initially we were trying to sell large parts of the factory as complete working systems, then eventually it was split up at for sale at a public auction

I learned this ……. After the auction, people would turn up at the site

  • First I had to evaluate what the person wanted who came to the site – what had they come for ? to collect a purchase, to try and buy unsold items, for some other reason
  • Then to work out what their role was ? – were they director of a business, a technician, or a labourer
  • Then I had to decide which messages should I give them first  ? – accounts details, security, safety, work involved, supervision, etc. (there were both dangers and valuables on the site)
  • Then I had to decide what language to say it in (English or German). I knew that people from many different countries had visited the auction and bought equipment.
  • Then finally, I’d give my first message, and hope for the best

This is what we do all the time, in all languages, usually instantaneously, but, because of this unusual circumstance, I was able to unpick the threads of it, as it wasn’t as easy as the usual assumptions I make in England. Some people only have one way of speaking – this may not work well in all circumstances.