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The Mechanism Of Thinking








It is evident from the foregoing discussion that we may include under
the term thinking all sorts of mental processes by which relations are
apprehended between different objects of thought. Thus young children
think as soon as they begin to understand something of the meaning of
the objects of their environment. Even animals think by means of simple
and direct associations. Thinking may therefore go on in terms of the
simplest and most immediate, or the most complex and distant
relationships.

SENSATIONS AND PERCEPTS AS ELEMENTS IN THINKING.--Relations seen between
sensations would mean something, but not much; relations seen between
objects immediately present to the senses would mean much more; but
our thinking must go far beyond the present, and likewise far beyond
individual objects. It must be able to annihilate both time and space,
and to deal with millions of individuals together in one group or class.
Only in this way can our thinking go beyond that of the lower animals;
for a wise rat, even, may come to see the relation between a trap and
danger, or a horse the relation between pulling with his teeth at the
piece of string on the gate latch, and securing his liberty.

But it takes the farther-reaching mind of man to invent the trap and
the latch. Perception alone does not go far enough. It is limited to
immediately present objects and their most obvious relations. The
perceptual image is likewise subject to similar limitations. While it
enables us to dispense with the immediate presence of the object, yet it
deals with separate individuals; and the world is too full of individual
objects for us to deal with them separately. It is in conception,
judgment, and reasoning that true thinking takes place. Our next
purpose will therefore be to study these somewhat more closely, and see
how they combine in our thinking.





Next: The Concept

Previous: The Function Of Thinking



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