‘Thought’: Socrates? Dr. Wittgenstein?

 

Socrates_statue_at_the_LouvreWhen Thaetetus asks Socrates to describe ‘ Thinking’, Socrates replies:

As a discourse that the mind carries on with itself about any subject it is considering.

You must take this explanation as coming from an ignoramus. but I have a notion that, when the mind is thinking, it is simply talking to itself, asking questions and answering them, and saying yes or no.

When it reaches a decision-which may come slowly or in a sudden rush-when doubt is over and the two voices affirm the same thing, then we call that its ‘judgment.’

So I should describe thinking as discourse, and judgment as a statement pronounced, not aloud to someone else but silently to oneself.

I can silently unfold the phrase: ‘Elvis Lives!’ in my mind syllable by syllable in complete comprehension of its meaning.

Mental Verbalization is ‘I’ talking to ‘Me’. Monologue as Dialogue.


Wittgenstein

Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote: ‘When I think in Language there are not meanings going through my mind in addition to the verbal expressions: the language is itself the vehicle of thought’.

Professors have made a nice living arguing about what a ‘Thought’ and a ‘Concept’ is for centuries [using Thought and Concept, of course.]

But here was Wittgenstein saying it’s all mostly words. This mysterious thing we called ‘Thinking’ is made up of just plain old words. Games we play with words.

Don’t believe him of course. Get back on the Meditation Mat and Sit.

[See the later posts on Sign, Semiotics, Semantics and Language. I don’t think I have them up on the Site yet. If not, they should be up shortly.]


Here he is from one of his later works:

It is of the essence of our investigation that we do not seek to learn anything new by it. We want to understand something that is already in plain view. For this is what we seem..not to understand.

[The].. a priori order of the World, it seems must be utterly simple.. it is prior to all experience, must run through all experience..as it were the hardest thing there is.

The aspect of things that are most important..are hidden because of their simplicity and familiarity. One is unable to notice something because it is always before one’s eyes. The real foundation of his inquiry do not strike a man at all unless that fact has at some time struck him.


Japanese Zen Training especially in the Martial Arts seeks a state it calls Mushin [‘No-Mind, No-Thought], a readiness for combat marked by a subsiding of this Dialogue. The Chinese synonym, Wuxin, begins with the character for ‘Not’.

As with everything else the idea has taken a life of its own in the hands of pop philosophers. There is nothing ‘wrong’ with Thought; nothing very ‘right’ either. Both ideas are themselves rooted in ‘Thought’. You need to work through the Self-Negating Expression to let it reveal itself. Try: ‘All Thoughts Miscue’-itself a ‘Thought’.