Re: "Letter on Humanism"-Reading 2 (and 3)

Tony responded to my posting on Reading 2:

>I have had these moments of
>thinking without thoughts; there are almost thoughts, I am puzzled as if
>I am waiting for a thought. Thus, I don't find the idea of thinking
>without thoughts problematic.

I don't think I would disagree with what you write here, especially after
just having read Jacques Hadamard's descriptions of ways mathematicians think
variously with and without words, images, etc. ("The Psychology of Invention
in the Mathematical Field"). But I think that the ability to think without
thoughts (e.g., propositions) *some of the time*, which is what I think
you're describing, is very different from thinking without any thoughts at
all. Maybe thoughts in the process of thinking are something like how the
runner has to touch the bases in baseball -- it's not something one has to do
all the time, but doing it at certain times is a sine qua non for getting

In practical terms, I think a way to help thinking not self-destruct in the
thought (which I admit is an ever-present danger! I call it: "idolatry"...)
is to adopt the stance which Jacob Bronowski says the physicist Neils Bohr
instructed his students: "Always take every statement I make as a question,
not as an assertion." ("Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.")

Brad McCormick

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