Notebooks of the Mind: Explorations of Thinking

By Vera John-Steiner | Go to book overview

5
Verbal Thinking

A thought may be compared to a cloud shedding a shower of words. L. S. Vygotsky

It is by means of language that poets, writers, and philosophers, who are driven by the need to think beyond the limits of the known, have attempted to share with others their personal inquiries. While film and the graphic media lend themselves well to the fluidity of experience, words are frequently used to explore some of the more universal aspects of existence.

Language is a bridge between individuals who wish to overcome divisions born of the diversity of human experience. It is also a bridge between inner thought and shared understanding: the past and the present, the world of the senses and the realm of thought.

The differing forms of language reveal these different uses. Writing is an explicit and expanded form usually addressed to distant or unknown audiences. Inner speech, on the other hand, is directed inward, toward the self. It is a highly condensed language of thought where each word may stand for manifold ideas.

A psychological description of the processes of separation and unification of the diverse aspects of language is shallow without a reliance upon the insights of writers, they who have charted the varied ways in which ideas are woven into text.


The Telegrams of Thought

In the notebooks and journals of writers, one occasionally reads entries which, while intriguing, are rather hard to interpret. When writers are at the edge of new work, their thoughts may occur in quick bursts. When

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Notebooks of the Mind: Explorations of Thinking
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Foreword vii
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • Introduction to the Revised Edition xiii
  • Introduction 1
  • Part One - Sources of Thought 11
  • 1 - The Beginnings 13
  • 2 - Apprenticeships 37
  • 3 - The Invisible Tools 59
  • Part Two - The Languages of the Mind 81
  • 4 - Visual Thinking 83
  • 5 - Verbal Thinking 111
  • 6 - The Languages of Emotion 141
  • 7 - Scientific Thinking 173
  • Conclusion: the Creativity of Thinking 205
  • Appendix 1 225
  • Notes 229
  • Bibliography 245
  • Index 253
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