Paper, Journal, and Review | Thought: This Is Deep

Module 9 | Prompt

  1. Is thought an evolution of genetic diversification or is genetic diversification a logical thought (e.g., connectivity, Darwin's "survival of the fittest")?
  2. Do culturally diverse societies have an intellectual advantage over those with less diversity?
  3. Has data (modern thought systems) improved the human condition (e.g., reduced societal and environmental risk)? If not, who is data working for?
  4. In the shadow of machines, has human intelligence stalled?
  5. Do we assume greater human intelligence (thought skills) based on the attributes of our technology?
  6. Is thought merely a representation of our present?
  7. If thought is a stimulus for human evolution (e.g.,Darwin's "survival of the fittest"), why has humanity conferred so much of this activity to machines?



" [...] clearly there was a time when thought on this planet was just dawning. At the time of this first dawning, there were, by hypothesis, no prior thoughts that grounded the circumstances needed for the first set of thoughts to yield entities in the world. It is not open to the idealist to say that the period of the dawn of thought is just the objectification of a thought arising at that stage in the history of thought when people began to theorize about their prehistory. For the circumstances that make up that early period of our evolution must have been present then to account for the generation of entities at the time when people first began to think. Otherwise, change in our thoughts is reduced merely to the representation of change in the present, and all human history becomes an illusion. So either the first thoughts generated entities by a kind of thought magic or the first thoughts remained barren and never took on an objective side. To escape from these unacceptable alternatives we must grant that at least some of the circumstances that enable thoughts to become factors in changing the world are not thought entities" (Fisk, 1976).


"Everywhere is next to somewhere else. Time and distance may join hands to make it seem as if places can be pushed apart, made separate, but the world unfolds the varied tapestry of its surface without breaks: desert becomes grassland, becomes mountain, becomes jungle, becomes river, becomes city, becomes marsh, becomes sea, becomes glacier, becomes tundra, becomes forest. There’s no detached segment: no independent, stand-alone locus that exists by itself uncon­nected to the environing topography.

[...] How do the paths we traverse in the world impact what moves along the pathways of our thoughts and feelings? And how does what passes along these hidden neural routes affect the way in which we understand what happens, who and what we see, as we go along […] down between farmland and playing fields? Everyone I pass […] will have an intricate network of pathways etched into his or her brain. In part these are shaped by time, carved into the particular species-shape we occupy by centuries of evolution and development. In part they are molded into our unique variations on these basic themes by a complex cluster of individual factors. How free are we to walk the paths we want, to think thoughts that we can truly call our own? Are we ourselves pathfinders, path-makers, path-walkers—or more like tiny cobbles that are themselves just part of some great route laid down by forces that have no more regard for us than we have for fragments of gravel underfoot” ( Arthur, 2015)?

"The laws of thought are more honored in the breach than in the observance, yet their actuality cannot be questioned. Hence, again, brain action gives rise to, or leads to a sense of the presence of, a force different in quality as well as quantity from any other known to us.

There is not the faintest reason to suppose that this force (to call conscious thought by that name) is produced or aroused only by cerebra action" (Thought a Function of The Brain, 1875).

See Interdisciplinary Resource for works cited.

Interdisciplinary Resources


  1. Arthur, C. (2015). Describing a Thought-Path. Sewanee Review, 123(3), 447–461. Keywords: symbolism, simplicity, thinking
  2. Fisk, M. (1976). Idealism, Truth, and Practice. The Monist, 59(3), 373-391. Keywords: idealism, thought, truth, reality, correspondence theory, historical materialism, aboutness, objectification, mirror theory
  3. Thought a Function of the Brain. (1875). The Journal of Speculative Philosophy, (2), 212. Keywords: thought, logic

Next Week's Sneak Peek...



For many people in the world it has become extremely hard to recognize an obvious lie. But why?

Well, Michael Shermer, science writer, and editor-in-chief of Skeptic Magazine, offers part of the answer in his 2010 TED Talk, 'The Pattern Behind Self-Deception.'

Video via TED Talks, 19 min. 

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