Thinking across Cultures

By Donald M. Topping; Doris C. Crowell et al. | Go to book overview

15
Thinking Vs. Thought: Strategies for Conceptual Creativity

Daya Krishna Jaipur, India

An International Conference on Thinking is presumably concerned with an activity which is distinctive of men and lies at the very roots of their other activities. Yet, thinking itself is seldom directly paid attention to, as what we normally know are only its results, that is, thought. It is with thought that we are usually concerned, the thought of others as embodied in language-- the language that we ourselves know. The understanding of what someone else has said and the finding of fault with it constitute the largest part of what goes on under the title of intellectual activity in the world. For example, the teaching-and-learning process in any educational institution usually consists in someone explaining to students what someone else has said and testing them for their capacity to reproduce what was said.

In a sense, this is almost unavoidable, for what can be more palpable, concrete, visible, objective than the libraries and the museums in which thought and imagination have embodied themselves. Secondary sources always take over and proliferate till they almost bury the primary sources or drive them into oblivion. The shock of a real encounter with the original is well known, but what is not so well known is the still greater shock that is felt when one meets the thinker in the flesh. The encounter with the person puts all that he had said or written far behind and seems somehow strangely irrelevant to the situation. The presence of the person transcends all that he has written and, to a certain extent, even negates it. But that is not what we are interested in here. Rather, it is the person actually thinking before us and the relation of this to the person's finished thought that we had read earlier in the person's writings that is significant. And the contrast here is almost as great as between the person and the action that the person does. Seeing the thought arising, so to say, before our very eyes is to see it in a different way than when

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