Thinking constitutes mental processes that generate thoughts, ideas, perceptions, beliefs, and such, that consequently materialize into actions and behaviors. Although a precise definition of thinking is difficult to convey as it is an abstract process or idea, its nature or features may be established through science, as well as the products of thinking processes that constitute the everyday life of human beings.
Neuroscience establishes the definition of thinking through scientific concepts and theories that explains how thinking occurs through brain functions. Neuroscientists illustrate the brain like the earth, as it also has various regions within it where different human brain functioning occur. These different functions meld together to coordinate executive process that allows the brain to function in so many ways, generating the process of thinking which influences the way human beings behave in general.
For instance, daydreaming is a thought process which occurs through brain functions the frontal lobe region of the brain, which manifests through the pensive or preoccupied behavior of human beings at times. (Dewey) With this in mind, we understand that the various parts or regions within the brain carry out various thought processes generating various kinds of information or ideas that influence human behavior. Understanding thinking goes beyond the limits of science and looks into the practical dimensions of the results or outcomes generated through thought processes.
For instance, individuals determine when thinking takes place by defining the results of thinking. One example would be the process of evaluating as thinking since individuals are able to analyze and incorporate ideas into things or situations by evaluating the dynamics, importance, impact, and such of these things or situations. Moreover, evaluation as a thought process requires the formulation of feedbacks that are based on thoughts and opinions borne out of the process of thinking.
Other results or outcomes of thinking which clearly defines its dimensions include attributing, believing, choosing, concluding, creating, deciding, judging, knowing, reasoning, understanding, and such. (Nelson-Jones, 4) Aside from the various results or outcomes that are harbored from the thinking process, thinking also constitutes varied thinking styles or process. For instance, the observable differences between philosophical and mythological thinking sets the dimensions of varied thinking processes and results.
With the shift in interest to various kinds of thought processes, the remainder of the text will discuss the dimensions of philosophical and mythological thinking. In addition, the similarities and differences between the two types of thinking will also be discussed. Philosophical thinking, otherwise known as critical thinking constitutes logic and reasoning as raw materials for reproducing commonsensical thoughts, and thus, actions and behaviors.
This particular thought process utilizes cognition or cognitive processes to come up with philosophical thoughts or ideas. The cognitive process takes place through various critical thinking skills – the interpretation of information, the analysis of the all the angles or dimensions of information, the evaluation of the kind and structure of information, inference, the explanation of information, and self-regulation. These various processes contribute to philosophical thinking, drawing out factual and rational thoughts. (Facione, 8)
The purpose critical thinking is to draw out thoughts, insights, and responses that are based on factual data and reliable and valid information. For instance, judging the contents of a book requires a balanced review of all the elements of the piece of literature – from the setting, the plot, the theme, the main characters, the hidden symbolisms within the text, the similarities and differences to other books, strengths and weaknesses according to certain literary standards, author opinions, other reviews for the text, and such.
The interpretation or review of the book is not based on one’s personal thoughts or opinions but is based on the elements that established the book as a literary piece despite the existence of personal views or opinions. Critical thinking, in this case, results to the presentation of the review of the book which looks at all the aspects or dimensions of the literary piece and the factual information obtained from research and other resources.
Mythological thinking, on the other hand, traces the origins of the thinking process as highly attributed to thought processes that are not based on factual ideas or situations, but on whimsical or make-believe ideas or thoughts. The results of thinking processes do not generate ideas that are based on ideas or situations that might be explained or represented concretely. Mythical thinking transcends facts and reality, such that the results or outcomes of thinking do not necessarily materialize through the presence of facts and real ideas or situations but through abstract thoughts or ideas such as faith and beliefs.
A common example for mythical thinking is the interpretation of various things or situations through cultural practices or traditions. For instance, as opposed to the scientific reason behind the appearance of rainbows after the rain, individuals might relate the phenomenon to a religious or biblical idea which states that the rainbow is a remembrance from the Divine Being of how He gave mercy to those people who were saved by Noah’s Ark.
Although some people believe in this thought, there are no factual or logical evidences that will justify this particular thought process. The main differences between philosophical and mythological thinking lie in the establishment of thoughts and ideas and the actual thinking or processing of information that takes place within the dimensions of these two types of thinking.
First, the results or outcomes of philosophical thinking rely on concrete data or information that are easily analyzed or interpreted, while the results or outcomes of mythological thinking are drawn out from abstract ideas. Second, philosophical thinking follows a complex and thorough process that looks at the reliability and validity, as well as all the other aspects of thoughts, while mythological thinking does not require the processing of information as the thoughts borne out of myth and prescribed by culture or other social transmitters of mythical thoughts.