An operation with concepts, ideas, or fragments thereof.
- A. Einstein & Infield, in "Physics and Reality": thinking is "operations with concepts, and the creation and use of definite functional relations between them, and the coordination of sense experiences to these concepts."
- To "think" for Einstein means to obtain a "concept". There are successive steps to obtaining a concept. The first one is random pictures which come up in our imagination. We can call this "artistic thinking". The second stage is when these images form a kind of a sequence. This is a beginning of "cause" and "effect" type of association. The third is when a certain picture, or an image, gets to be repeated in a number of sequences. In this way, it is common to a sequence A, a sequence B, etc., and hence connects these two (or more) seemingly unrelated sequences. It is at this stage that the "picture" or the "image" starts to be called a concept. Hence, a concept differs from an image in that it is met a number of times in several sequences of images, whereas an image is met only once. A concept starts as an image, but climbs up to generalization. A concept is a generalized image. Hence we proceed in the following sequence: 1) formation of an image; 2) formation of a sequence of images; 3) formation of a general image that is common to a number of sequences.
- We should note that deep thinking is characterized by a very simple language. It is simplicity in which complexity is embedded. For example, take song of John Lennon "Love"
- Any thinking consists of a combination of facts with theory. Touring says: "The popular view is that scientists proceed inexorably from well-established fact to well-established fact, never being influenced by any unproven conjecture, is quite mistaken ... Conjectures are of great importance since they suggest useful lines of research." F. Bacon has a similar idea for the new type of knowledge, which he opposes to the scholastic type.
- Einstein says that "the true laws can not be linear". Hence, they have simultaneous character. Thinking reflects the Universe. Hence, thinking cannot be linear, in one direction, but simultanous, in plurality of directions.
- The question "what does it mean to think?" is really answered on the grand scale by examining the activity of mankind throughout different stages of development. This should not be"intellectual history", but rather that of "material culture". Thinking is always an active attitude. I don't believe that thinking is "meditation", i.e. sitting passively staring at one's nose. Sure, for thinking peace of mind and rest of problems of everyday life are required, especially for thinking on thinking. But thinking requires some medium to focus one's thoughts. This can be writing, word processing, or just doing something with one's hands, allowing the head to think.
- It is clear that the new thinking is incompatible with the old educational system, and hence with that which typically passes off as "science".
- It is also clear that our feelings serve as indicators of the rightness of the path. Feelings of extreme joy and inspiration indicate the right direction. It is a feeling of flight above the terra firma of the present day. For example, remember the famous "Eurika!" of Archimedes .
- Freedom is necessary for thinking. Einstein: thinking implies "a possibility of unrestricted communications of all results and judgement - freedom of expression and instruction in all realms of intellectual endeavor".