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Monday, January 26, 2015

What is thought?

Brain and Mind at Work

The Art of Thinking. A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition

Developing Your Thinking: An Overview
ISBN: 9780205668335 Author: Vincent Ryan Ruggiero
copyright © 2009 Pearson Education

For well over a century, researchers have deepened our understanding of human thought. We now know that thinking is not a mystical activity, unknowable and unlearnable. Thinking occurs in patterns that we can study and compare to determine their relative objectivity, validity, and effectiveness. This knowledge can be used to reinforce good thinking habits and to overcome bad ones. As James Mursell has observed, “Any notion that better thinking is intrinsically unlearnable and unteachable is nothing but a lazy fallacy, entertained only by those who have never taken the trouble to consider just how a practical job of thinking is really done.”2
Brain research is providing new insights, notably that the structure of the brain is considerably more complex than previously imagined. The first breakthrough in understanding came when a neurosurgeon began treating patients with severe epilepsy in a new way. He severed the corpus callosum, the nerve fibers connecting the two hemispheres of the cerebral cortex, to relieve the symptoms of the disease. The separation made it possible to study the way each hemisphere functioned. The right hemisphere, it was learned, governs nonverbal, symbolic, and intuitive responses. The left hemisphere governs the use of language, logical reasoning, analysis, and the performance of sequential tasks.
Some popularizers of this research have taken it to mean there are “left-brained people” and “right-brained people,” and a cottage industry has arisen to help people identify which they are and/or become what they are not. Most researchers regard this development as, at best, an oversimplification of the data. For example, Jerre Levy points out that none of the data “supports the idea that normal people function like split-brain patients, using only one hemisphere at a time,” adding that the very structure of the brain implies profound integration of the two hemispheres, the corpus callosum connecting them and facilitating their arousal.3
William H. Calvin says that researchers who specialize in split-brain research (as he does) tend to regard the popularization “with something of the wariness which the astronomers reserve for astrology.” He cites the “behavior and mental processes greater than and different from each region’s contribution” as evidence of right/left integration.4 Others underscore the fact that left-brain/right-brain research has been conducted with severely injured or surgically altered brains and not normal ones. In his Nobel lecture on the subject, for instance, Roger W. Sperry noted that “in the normal state the two hemispheres appear to work closely together as a unit, rather than one being turned on while the other idles.”5
The extravagance of popularizers notwithstanding, neurophysiological research seems to parallel cognitive psychologists’ earlier realization that the mind has two distinct phases—the productionphase and the judgment phase—that complement each other during problem solving and decision making. Proficiency in thinking requires the mastery of all approaches appropriate to each phase and skill in moving back and forth between them. Let’s examine each phase a little more closely, noting how good thinkers use each effectively.

The Production Phase

In this phase, which is most closely associated with creative thinking, the mind produces various conceptions of the problem or issue, various ways of dealing with it, and possible solutions or responses to it. Good thinkers produce both more ideas and better ideas than poor thinkers. They become more adept in using a variety of invention techniques, enabling them to discover ideas. More specifically, good thinkers tend to see the problem from many perspectives before choosing any one, to consider many different investigative approaches, and to produce many ideas before turning to judgment. In addition, they are more willing to take intellectual risks, to be adventurous and consider unusual ideas, and to use their imaginations.
In contrast, poor thinkers tend to see the problem from a limited number of perspectives (often just a single narrow one), to take the first approach that occurs to them, to judge each idea immediately, and to settle for only a few ideas. Moreover, they are overly cautious in their thinking, unconsciously making their ideas conform to the common, the familiar, and the expected.

The Judgment Phase

In this phase, which is most closely associated with critical thinking, the mind examines and evaluates what it has produced, makes its judgments, and, where appropriate, adds refinements. Good thinkers handle this phase with care. They test their first impressions, make important distinctions, and base their conclusions on evidence rather than their own feelings. Sensitive to their own limitations and predispositions, they double-check the logic of their thinking and the workability of their solutions, identifying imperfections and complications, anticipating negative responses, and generally refining their ideas.

In contrast, poor thinkers judge too quickly and uncritically, ignoring the need for evidence and letting their feelings shape their conclusions. Blind to their limitations and predispositions, poor thinkers trust their judgment implicitly, ignoring the possibility of flaws in their thinking.

For more insight into critical thinking go to this source: 

The Art of Thinking. A Guide to Critical and Creative Thought, Ninth Edition

Chapter 1: Developing Your Thinking: An Overview
ISBN: 9780205668335 Author: Vincent Ryan Ruggiero
copyright © 2009 Pearson Education


Leslie Gomez 4041 said...

I find the functions of the mind so amazing. I agree that you must look at something multiple ways to completely understand the problem in order to form a solution. Judgements and evidence create conclusions.

Anonymous said...

having the capability to approach a problem or concept at different angles gives one a better idea of the best solution or a better understanding of "why" something happened the way it is. developing this ability takes time but can be done. Never stop learning.
shirley Hartman HUM/114 wk3

Anonymous said...

The human brain is so amazing!! I think it is fascinating!! I can't believe how much it can do and how the different hemispheres work. I also can not believe how much we have discovered about the functions of the brain using our brain to do so. We are amazing creatures, aren't we? I wonder what the other parts of our brain that we do not use or that we are not currently aware of, are capable of. Is there more? Can we learn to access it?? Or when will we learn to access it??
Mary R/HUM/114

Joshua Gardner said...

Remarkable isn't it? This is the very reason I have such a passion to understand the brain. I am at awe every time I learn something about the brain and its uses. A systematic genius! When truly putting your own thoughts and ideas under scrutiny we find so much more to be earned/learned than taking things on face value or assuming a bias of your own creation. MORE ARTICLES LIKE THIS PLEASE!

Com 101-4049

Anonymous said...

I LOVE THIS POST! thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Instead of agreeing with the article like every other post I think it is very interesting how all their responses are similar. This in turn shows how similarly they processed the information of the article to come up with similar responses. But none of them thought to scrutinize their responses in the way of originality.
-Tatiana Bartosic