Do we think about our thoughts or do they think us?

Do we think about our thoughts or do they think us?
Scg8866t
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Posted Mar 28, 2012 - 9:28 AM:
Subject: Do we think about our thoughts or do they think us?
Let the function F be "Me thinking about"

Let x be 'my thoughts'

F(x) is possible as I can think about my thoughts

F(F(x)) is possible as I can think about me thinking about my thoughts

F(F(F(x))) is possible as I can think about me thinking about me thinking about my thoughts, though it gets really fizzy from here on so we shall stop.

However, how can I be certain that my thoughts are not thinking about me? X(F)

F(F(F(x))) ⇔ X(X(X(F)))
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Posted Mar 28, 2012 - 9:38 AM:

I'll check with my thoughts and get back to you.
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Posted Mar 28, 2012 - 9:40 AM:

Well, philosophically speaking, you can't. And that doesn't make any sense, anyhow.

But the way consciousness works always tells us in this vague mentalesic way what our thoughts are about. F(F(x)) is this thing called metacognition — and it would seem that humans are good enough at it to be able to trust that their thoughts are about what they are thinking they are thinking about.

Ah, now I have a headache.
Veritas Vincit
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Posted Mar 28, 2012 - 9:41 AM:

Scg8866t wrote:

However, how can I be certain that my thoughts are not thinking about me? X(F)
Good Lord, man! Don't you even know your own thoughts?

Seriously though, I think what you've eloquently described is one of the powerful features of language: theoretically infinite recursion. You're right, of course. It quickly becomes rather fuzzy. Too fuzzy to be of practical use.

I think there is a bit of a philosopical error in your above question as well. You seem to be reifying your thoughts as some sort of entity. They're not. They're just, you know, thoughts.


Edited by Veritas Vincit on Mar 28, 2012 - 9:47 AM
Scg8866t
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Posted Mar 28, 2012 - 10:03 AM:

Veritas Vincit wrote:
Good Lord, man! Don't you even know your own thoughts?

Seriously though, I think what you've eloquently described is one of the powerful features of language: theoretically infinite recursion. You're right, of course. It quickly becomes rather fuzzy. Too fuzzy to be of practical use.

I think there is a bit of a philosopical error in your above question as well. You seem to be reifying your thoughts as some sort of entity. They're not. They're just, you know, thoughts.


Well good point, I thought about that too. Our thoughts are formed by 100 billion nerve cells (neurons) interconnected by trillions of connections, called synapses in the brain

Any external stimuli causes the release of chemical neurotransmitters into the synapse which in turn gives as thoughts. If synapses in our brain gives us thoughts, then what makes you think that these synapses do not know that we are thinking. Does it make sense?
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Posted Mar 28, 2012 - 10:31 AM:

Scg8866t wrote:


Well good point, I thought about that too. Our thoughts are formed by 100 billion nerve cells (neurons) interconnected by trillions of connections, called synapses in the brain

Any external stimuli causes the release of chemical neurotransmitters into the synapse which in turn gives as thoughts. If synapses in our brain gives us thoughts, then what makes you think that these synapses do not know that we are thinking. Does it make sense?
I don't think it's helpful to think of synapses that way. I don't think of my synapses as knowing anything or "giving me thoughts". Sure, synapses are part of the story, but it's useful to adopt a more holistic viewpoint, i.e. the organism is what knows and thinks and feels.
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Posted Mar 28, 2012 - 11:12 AM:

Veritas Vincit wrote:
I don't think it's helpful to think of synapses that way. I don't think of my synapses as knowing anything or "giving me thoughts". Sure, synapses are part of the story, but it's useful to adopt a more holistic viewpoint, i.e. the organism is what knows and thinks and feels.


You miss my point sir. If your thoughts can comprise of you thinking about thoughts than your thoughts can also comprise of themselves thinking about you. Both are metaphysical. It is hard to disprove the hypothesis because this universe doesn't allow us to experience two first person POV simultaneously in a strata of time. Hence how can I know whether:

1) My thoughts are thinking about me thinking about them

or

2) I am thinking about my thoughts thinking about me

or

3) Both happening at the same time

is true?




Edited by Scg8866t on Mar 28, 2012 - 6:21 PM
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Posted Mar 28, 2012 - 11:46 AM:

Scg8866t wrote:
You miss my point sir. If your thoughts can comprise of you thinking about thoughts than your thoughts can also comprise of themselves thinking about you. Both are metaphysical. If hard to disprove the hypothesis because this universe doesn't allow us to experience two first person POV simultaneously in a strata of time. Hence how can I know whether:

1) My thoughts are thinking about me thinking about them

or

2) I am thinking about my thoughts thinking about me

or

3) Both happening at the same time

is true?


I'm sure I completely missed your point and continue to do so. Your whole line of reasoning here seems unnecessarily convoluted and tangled.

I don't think I can help much here, and the following is unsolicited, so apologies in advance: You're living life too much within your head. Deep introspection is unreliable and unproductive. My (again unsolicited) prescription for your current frame of mind would be fresh air and exercise.
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Posted Mar 28, 2012 - 11:55 AM:

What does it mean for a thought to be thinking? A sight that is seeing? A punch that is punching? A scream that is screaming? An explosion that is exploding?
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Posted Mar 28, 2012 - 12:02 PM:

keda wrote:
What does it mean for a thought to be thinking?
He seems to be confusing himself with his thoughts. Thoughts don't think anything. People do.
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