4 Kinds of Thought, 3 Kinds of People

Posted by on August 19, 2000

Today we’re Swimming all the Way to the Drain at the Bottom of the Pool!

According to Dr. Ricardo Gattass of the Institute of Biophysics, all human thought can be classified as Verbal, Abstract, Analytical or Symbolic.

1. In Verbal thought, we experience a thought as if listening to our own voice. Using auditory memory, we translate ideas and feelings (intellect and emotion) into words.

2. Abstract thought is utterly free. The mental images created in Abstract thought are unbound by the physical world and often represent imaginary events. In Abstract thought, intuition and emotion replace logic as we examine ideas and sensory experiences.

3. In Analytical thought, we examine possibilities in a logical sequence relative to the goal of foreseeing. The objective of Analytical thought is to forecast a result.

4. In Symbolic thought, we consider a thing from different perspectives, much as we might imagine the 3-D image of a building and then assess from each point the perspective of that angle of view. (Language relationships and musical thoughts are both included within the category of Symbolic thought, as we use Symbolic thought to encode and decode associative memories.)

I was instantly reminded of these findings of Dr. Gatass when I stumbled upon the following in Principles of Philosophy – vol. I by Rene Descartes: “If we endeavor to form our conceptions upon history and life, we remark three classes of men. The first consists of those for whom the chief thing is the qualities of feelings. These men create art. The second consists of the practical men who carry on the business of the world. They respect nothing but power and respect power only so far as it is exercised. The third class consists of men to whom nothing seems great but reason. If force interests them, it is not in its exertion, but in that it has a reason and a law. For men of the first class, Nature is a picture; for men of the second class, it is an opportunity; for men of the third class it is a cosmos so admirable that to penetrate its ways seems to them the only thing that makes life worth living. These are the men whom we see possessed by a passion to teach and to disseminate their influences. If they do not give themselves over completely to their passions to learn, it is because they exercise self- control. These are natural scientific men, and they are the only men that have any real success in scientific research.”

Did you see the connection between the quote and the 4 kinds of thought outlined by Dr. Gattass? Here’s what I’m thinking: We all share a dependence on verbal thought, as it is verbal thought that allows us to communicate with one another. It is therefore our preferences among the remaining 3 types of thought that divide humanity into the 3 broad categories described by Descartes.

The first class (the artist) prefers Abstract thought since their desire is to examine feelings. The second class (business people) prefer Analytical thought since their principal objective is to forecast results. The third class (scientists) prefer Symbolic thought since their goal is to map and understand the interconnectedness of the cosmos.

Hmmm. Arts. Business. Science. Aren’t these the major divisions of curriculum in most colleges?

Just some food for… thought… on a magical Monday morning.

Roy H. Williams

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