Chp 3 Study of thought - thinking usage

Submitted by Tom Last on Mon, 09/21/2009 - 11:09am.


REVISED NOV. 13 --JUST STUDY NOTES IN USAGE OF 3 WORDS: THINKING,THOUGHT,THOUGHT PROCESS

Chapter 3
Thinking - Thought In The Service Of World Conception

Hoernele thought-thinking usage

 update nov 17, 2009

green  indicates disagreement with Hoernle. My wording is followed by Hoernle's wording in green.

3.0 Reflective Thinking
[1] When I observe how a billiard ball, when struck, transfers its motion to another ball, I remain entirely without influence over the course of this observed event. The direction of motion and velocity of the second ball are determined by the direction and velocity of the first. As long as I do no more than observe, I cannot say anything about the motion of the second ball until it actually happens. But the situation is different when I begin to reflect nachzudenken about the content of my observation. The purpose of my reflection (Nachdenken) is to form concepts of the event. I connect the concept of an elastic ball with certain other concepts of mechanics, and take into consideration the special circumstances prevailing in this particular case. In other words, I try to add to the occurrence that runs its course without my participation a second process which takes place in the conceptual sphere. This conceptual process depends on me. This is shown by the fact that I can be content with the observation, and do without any search for concepts if I have no need of them. But if this need is present I am not satisfied until I have brought the concepts Ball, Elasticity, Motion, Impact, Velocity, etc., into a certain connection, so that they apply to the observed event in a definite way. As certain as it is that the observed process takes place independently of me, it is just as certain that the conceptual process cannot happen without my participation.

[2] Whether this activity of mine is really an expression of my own independent being, or whether modern physiologists are right in saying that we cannot think Denken as we will, but rather have to think Denken exactly as determined by the thoughts Gedanken and thought (Gedanken) -connections that happen to be present in our minds Bewußtsein at any given moment (Theodor Ziehen, Principles of Physiological Psychology), is a question that will be the subject of a later discussion. For the moment we wish merely to establish the fact that we constantly feel compelled to seek concepts and connections of concepts, that relate in a specific way to the objects and events given independently of us. Whether this activity is really ours, or whether we carry it out according to an unalterable necessity, is a question we will leave aside for the moment. That it initially appears to us to be our own activity is without question. We know for certain that we are not given the corresponding concepts together with the objects at the same time. That I am myself the active one that brings about the conceptual process may be an illusion, but to immediate observation it certainly appears to be so. The question is now: What do we gain by finding a conceptual counterpart to an event?

[3] There is for me a profound difference between the way that the parts of an event are related to one another before and after the discovery of the corresponding concepts. Mere observation can follow the parts of a given event in succession as the occur, but their connection remains dark without the help of concepts. I observe the first billiard ball move towards the second in a certain direction and with a certain velocity. What will happen after the impact I cannot tell in advance, I must wait and then can only follow it with my eyes. Suppose someone, at the moment of impact, obstructs my view of the field where the event is taking place; then I, as a mere spectator, do not know what happens next. The situation is very different if, before my view is obstructed, I have discovered the concepts corresponding to the constellation of relationships. In that case I can say what will happen, even if I am no longer able to observe it. There is nothing in a merely observed object or event that reveals anything about its connection to other objects and events. This connection comes to light only when observation is combined with thought Denken.

[4] Observation (field of observation) and thought (world of thought)  Denken are the two starting pointAusgangspunkte for all intellectual striving geistige Streben of human beings, to the degree we are conscious of such striving. What is accomplished by ordinary common sense, as well as the most complicated scientific research, rest on these two fundamental pillars of our minds Geistes. Philosophers have started from various primary polarities: Idea and Reality, Subject and Object, Appearance and Thing-in-itself, Ego and Non-Ego, Idea and Will, Concept and Matter, Force and Substance, the Conscious and the Unconscious. But it is easy to show that all these polarities are preceded by that of observation and thought  Denken, this being the fundamental and most important polarity for the human being.

[5] Whatever principle we wish to advance, we must either prove that we have observed it somewhere, or we must express it in the form of a clear concept Gedankens that can be re-thought nachgedacht by others. Every philosopher who sets out to discuss his fundamental principles, must express them in conceptual form and, consequently, makes use of thinking. thereby makes use of thought  Denkens. With this he indirectly admits that his work presupposes thought Denken. Nothing has been said yet as to whether thought Denken or something else is the main factor in the evolution of the world. But it is clear from the start that philosophers can gain no knowledge of that evolution without thought DenkenThought Denken may play a minor role in the coming about of world phenomena, but it certainly plays a leading role in the formation of a view about them.

[6] As for observation, we need it because of the way we are organized. Our thought Denken about a horse and the object "horse" are for us two separate things. We have access to the object only by means of observation. As little as we can form a concept of a horse by merely staring at it, just as little can we able by mere thought  Denken produce a corresponding object..

3.1 Observation Of Thought
[7] In sequence of time observation, in fact, comes before thought Denken. For even thought Denken must be observed first before we get to know it. It was essentially a description of an observation when, at the beginning of this chapter, we gave an account of how thought Denken is kindled by an event and goes beyond what is given. Everything that enters the circle of our experience, we first become aware of through observation. The content of our sensations, perceptions and viewpoints; our feelings, acts of will, dreams and fantasy images; our mental pictures, concepts and ideas, illusions and hallucinations; all are given to us through observation.

[8] But thought Denken, as an object of observation, differs essentially from all other things. The observation of a table, or a tree, occurs for me as soon as these objects enter the range/field of my experience. Yet I do not, at the same time, observe my thought Denken about these things. I observe the table, and I and I carry on a process of thought Denken about the table, but I do not at the same moment observe this thought thought-process. I must first take up a standpoint outside of my own activity if, in addition to observing the table, I want also to observe my thought Denken about the table. While the observation of things and events, and thinking Denken about them, are everyday occurrences filling my ongoing life, observation of the thought Denkens thought-process itself is a kind of exceptional state. This fact must be properly taken into account if we are to compare thought Denkens --as an object of observation-- to all other observed things. We must be clear about the fact that, when we observe thought thought-process Denkens, we are applying to it the same method that is the normal condition for the study of all other world-content, but that, in the ordinary course of that study, is not usually applied to thought Denken itself.

Is a concept formed by thought or thinking?
chapter 4: [2] Concepts cannot be attained from observation. This can already be seen from the fact that children only slowly and gradually form concepts for the objects that surround them.

3.2 Formation Of Concept
[9] Someone might object that what I have observed here about thinking Denken applies equally to feeling and to all other activities of the mind. When, for example, I have a feeling of pleasure, the feeling is also kindled by the object, and it is this object that I observe, not the feeling of pleasure. This objection is based on an error. Pleasure does not have at all the same relationship to its object as the concept formed by thought  Denken. I am conscious, in the most certain way, that the concept of a thing is formed by my activity, while pleasure is produced in me by an object in the same way as, for example, a change is caused in an object by a stone that falls on it. For observation, a pleasure is given in exactly the same way as the event which causes it. The same is not true of the concept. I can ask: Why does a particular event arouse in me a feeling of pleasure? But I certainly cannot ask: Why does an event produce in me a particular set of concepts? The question would simply make no sense. When reflecting Nachdenken thinking about an event, I am not concerned with an effect on me. I can learn nothing at all about myself by knowing the concepts which correspond to the observed change in a pane of glass by a stone thrown against it. But I definitely learn something about my personality when I know the feeling that a certain event arouses in me. When I say of an observed object: "This is a rose," I do not say the slightest thing about myself; but if I say of the same thing: "It gives me a feeling of pleasure," I characterize not only the rose, but also myself in my relationship to the rose.

Is thought an activity?
above: [2] Whether this activity of mine is really an expression of my own independent being, or whether modern physiologists are right in saying that we cannot think Denken as we will, but rather have to think Denken exactly as determined by the thoughts Gedanken and thought (Gedanken) -connections that happen to be present in our minds Bewußtsein at any given moment, is a question that will be the subject of a later discussion.

3.3 Contemplation Of Object
[10] As objects of observation, then, thought Denkens and feeling are not on the same level. The same could also be easily shown for the other activities of the human mind. Unlike thought Denken, they belong in the same category as other observed objects or events. It is part of the unique nature of thought  Denkens that it is an activity directed solely on the observed object, and not on the thinking personality  denkende Persönlichkeit. This manifests itself in the way we express our thoughts Gedanken about an object, in contrast to the way we express our feelings or acts of will. If I see an object and recognize it as a table, I do not normally say: "I am thinking denke of a table," but rather: "This is a table." Yet I could say, "I am pleased with the table." In the first case, I am not at all interested in declaring that I have entered into a relationship with the table; but in the second case, it is just this relationship that matters. In saying, "I am thinking denke of a table," I am already in the exceptional point of view characterized above, where something that is always part of and contained within our mental activity is observed which is not normally noticed.

[11] This is the unique nature of thought  Denkens, that the thinker Denkende forgets thinking Denken while actually engaged in it. What occupies the attention is not thinking Denken, but the object of thought  Denkens, which is being observed.

[12] The first observation that we make about thought Denken is that it is the unobserved element in our ordinary mental life.

[13] The reason why we do not notice the thinking Denken that goes on in our everyday mental life is precisely because it depends on our own activity. What I do not produce myself enters my field of observation as an object. I contrast it with myself as something that has come about without me; it confronts me; I must accept it as the prerequisite for my thought-processes thinking Denkprozesses. While I am reflecting think nachdenke on the object, I am occupied with it; my look is turned to it. To become absorbed in the object is to contemplate it by thought  denkende. My attention is not directed on my activity, but on the object of this activity. In other words: while I am thinking denke I do not look at my thinking  Denken, which I myself am producing, but at the object of my thinking  Denkens, which I do not produce.

PURE THINKING

3.4 Contemplation Of Thought
[14] I am in the same position even if I enter into the exceptional state and reflect nachdenke (think) on my own thought Denken thought-processes. I can never observe my present thought Denken, but I can only afterwards make the past experience of my thought-process Denkprozeß into an object of fresh thoughts Denkens.  If I wanted to observe my present thought  denkt, I would have to split myself into two personalities: one to think Denken, and the other to observe this current  thinking Denken itself. But this I cannot do. I can only accomplish it  in two separate acts. The thought   thought-processes  Denken to be observed is never the (work in progress) one in which I am actually engaged, but a different one. For this purpose, it does not matter whether I observe my own earlier thoughts Denken, or follow the thought-processes Gedankenprozeß  of another person, or, as in the above example of the motion of billiard balls, set up an imaginary thought-process Gedankenprozeß.

[15] Two things are incompatible with each other: actively producing something and confronting this in contemplation. This is already known even in the First Book of Moses (Genesis 1, 31). God creates the world in the first six world-days, and only after it is there is any contemplation of it possible: "And God looked at everything he had made and, behold, it was very good." The same applies to our  thinking Denken. It must first be there, if we are to observe it.

3.5 Conceptual Connections From Content Of Concepts
[16] The reason why we are unable to observe the thought  thought-process Denken in the present moment of its current course is the same reason that makes it possible for us to know it more immediately and more intimately than any other process in the world. Just because we create it ourselves, we know the characteristics of its course, the way in which the process being considered takes place. What, in other spheres of observation, can be found only in indirect ways --such as the relevant context and the relationship between the individual objects-- is, in the case of thought Denken, known to us in a very direct way. I do not know at once why my observation of thunder follows my observation of lightning; but I know immediately, from the content of the two concepts, why my thought Denken connects the concept of thunder with the concept lightning. This, of course, does not depend at all on whether I have the right concepts of lightning and thunder. The connection between those concepts that I do have is clear to me, and is so through the concepts themselves.

3.6 Guided By Content Of Thought
[17] This transparent clarity of the thought-process Denkprozeß is completely independent of our knowledge of the physiological basis of thought Denkens . I am speaking here of thought Denken as it appears when we observe our own mental activity. How one material process in my brain causes or influences another while I am carrying out a process of thought Gedanken operation  is irrelevant for this purpose. What I observe in studying thought a thought-process Denken is not what process in my brain connects the concept lightning with the concept thunder, but rather, my reason for bringing these two concepts into a particular relationship. Introspection shows me that in linking one thought thought with thought Gedanken with another there is nothing to guide me but the content of my thoughts Gedanken ; I am not guided by any material processes in my brain. In a less materialistic age than ours, this remark would of course be entirely superfluous. But today --when there are people who believe that once we know what matter is we will also know how matter thinks denkt-- it must be said that one can talk about thought Denken without heading right away into a collision with brain physiology. Most people today find it difficult to grasp the concept of pure thinking thought Denkens. Anyone who immediately challenges the view of  thought Denken developed here with the statement of Cabanis' that "the brain secretes thoughts Gedanken as the liver does bile or the salivary glands saliva . . .", simply does not know what I am talking about. Such a person tries to find thought Denken by the same method of ordinary observation that we apply to the other objects that make up the world-content. But it   cannot be found in this way because, as I have shown, it eludes normal observation. Those who cannot overcome Materialism lack the ability to bring about the exceptional state I have described, in which we become conscious of what in all other activity of the mind remains unconscious. Just as one cannot discuss color with the blind, in the same way one cannot discuss thought Denken with those who lack the goodwill to shift to this viewpoint. But in any case they should not imagine that we take physiological processes to be thought Denken. Materialists fail to explain thought Denken because they simply do not see it.

3.7 I Am Content Of Thinking Activity
[18] For everyone who has the ability to observe thought Denken --and with good will every normally developed person has this ability-- this observation is the most important one that can be made. For we observe something which we ourselves bring forth; we find ourselves confronting not something that is at first a foreign object, but rather, our own activity. We know how the thing we are observing comes about. We see its conditions and relationships clearly. A firm point has been won from which we can, with well-founded hope, seek an explanation of all other world phenomena.

[19] The feeling of having such a firm point led the founder of modern philosophy, Rene Descartes, to base the whole of human knowledge on the sentence: I thinkdenke therefore I am. All other things, all other events, happen without me; I do not know whether they are there as truth, or illusion, or dream. There is only one thing I know with altogether absolute certainty, for I myself bring it to its sure existence: my thought Denken. It may have another source for its existence, perhaps it comes from God or from somewhere else; but the fact that it is there in the sense that I bring it forth myself --of that I am certain. Descartes initially had no justification for giving his statement any other meaning than this. He could only assert that within the content of the world it is in my thinking Denken that I grasp myself within that activity which is the most my own. What the attached "therefore I am" is supposed to mean has been much debated. It can have a meaning on one condition only. The simplest statement I can make about a thing is that it is, that it exists. How this existence is to be more closely defined, I cannot say in the first moment that anything enters within the range of my experience. Each object must first be studied in its relationship to others before we can determine in what sense it can be said to exist. An experienced event may be a set of perceptions, but it could also be a dream, a hallucination, and so on. In short, I am unable to say in what sense it exists. This I cannot take from the event itself, but I can find it when I look at it in relation to other things. But here, again, I learn no more than how it is related to these other things. My investigation reaches firm ground only when I find an object, the meaning of whose existence I can draw out of itself. This is I, as a thinker in so far as I think Denkender; for I give to my existence the definite, self-determined content of  my thought activity denkenden . From here I can make a start and ask: Do other things exist in the same or in some other sense?

3.8 Remain Within Thought
[20] When thought Denken is made into an object of observation, we add to the rest of the observed world content something that normally escapes our attention; but we do not alter the usual manner of observation, which is the same as people apply to other things. We add to the number of observed objects, but not to the method of observation. While we are observing other things, one process that is overlooked mixes itself into the world events (among events I now include observation). There is something present, different from all other occurrences, that is not taken into account. But when I look at my own thinking Denken, no such unconsidered element is present. For what now hovers in the background is once more just thought Denken itself. The observed object is qualitatively the same as the activity directed upon it. This is another unique characteristic of thought thought-processes Denkens. When we make it into an object of observation, we are not compelled to do so with the help of something qualitatively different, but can remain within the same element: the realm of thought.

[21] When I spin a web of thoughts Denken around an object that is given without my participation, I go beyond my observation, and the question is: What gives me the right to do this? Why don’t I simply let the object work upon me? In what way is it possible for my thought Denken to be related to the object? These are questions that all who reflect nachdenkt on their own thought-processes Gedankenprozesse must ask themselves. But all these questions fall away when we reflect think nachdenkt on thought Denken itself. We then add nothing foreign to our thought Denken, and consequently do not have to justify any such addition.

3.9 Create Thought Before Knowing
[22] Schelling says: "To know Nature is to create Nature." Anyone who takes these words of this bold Nature-philosopher literally, must give up forever all hope of gaining knowledge of Nature. For Nature is already there once; and in order to create it a second time, one must first know the principles it has originated from. One would first have to learn from the Nature that exists, the conditions necessary for its existence, and then apply them to the Nature one wanted to create. But this learning, which would have to precede the creating, would be to know Nature already; and this would still be so even if, after the learning, no attempt is made to create. The only kind of Nature one could create without knowing it beforehand would be a Nature that is not yet present.

[23] What is impossible with Nature ---creating before knowing--- we achieve with thinking the act of thought Denken. If we wanted to wait with thinking Denken until we already knew it, then we would never think at all. We must resolutely think losdenken onward, so that afterwards by (introspective analysis) means of observation of what we ourselves have done, we come to knowledge of it (our own processes). For the observation of thought Denkens, we ourselves first create an the object (the thought-processes).  The existence of all other objects has been provided without our participation.

[24] Someone could easily oppose my contention that we must think denkenbefore we can contemplate thought  Denken with the statement that we also have to digest before we can observe the process of digestion. This objection is similar to the one Pascal made to Descartes, declaring that one could just as well say, "I walk, therefore I am." Certainly, I must also resolutely get on with digesting and not wait until I have studied the physiological process of digestion. But this could be compared with the study analysis of thought Denkens only if, after digesting, I did not study analyse digestion with thought denkend, but rather wanted to eat and digest it. It is, after all, not without reason that digestion cannot become the object of digestion, but thought Denken can very well become the object of thought Denkens.

[25] This then is beyond doubt: In our thinking Denken we have got hold of world events (process) at a point where we must be present if anything is to come about. And that is precisely what matters. This is exactly the reason why things confront me in such a puzzling way: because I am so uninvolved in their coming about. I simply find them before me; but I know how thought Denken is produced. This is why, for the investigation of all events in the world, there is no more primary starting point Ausgangspunkte  than  thought Denken itself.

3.10 Self-Subsisting
[26] I would now like to mention a widespread error that prevails with regard to thought Denken. It is often said: Thought Denken, as it truly is, in itself, is nowhere given to us. The thought thought-process Denken which connects the observations of our experience, weaving them together with a network of concepts, is said to be not at all the same as that which we afterward extract from the objects of observation in order to make them the object of study. What we first weave unconsciously into the things is said to be something entirely different from what we then consciously extract from them.

[27] Those who draw this conclusion do not understand that it is not possible to escape thought Denken in this way. I cannot come out of thought Denken if I want to contemplate thought (observe it) Denken. If we distinguish between preconscious thought Denken and the thought Denken of which I am afterwards conscious, we should not forget that this distinction is entirely external and has nothing to do with thought as such. I do not in any way alter a thing by contemplating it in thinking (making it an object of thought) denkend . I can well imagine denken that a being with different sense organs and with a differently functioning intelligence would have a different mental picture of a horse than I do, but I cannot imagine denken  (think) that my own thought Denken becomes something different because I observe it (make it an object of knowledge). I myself observe (my own processes) what I myself produce. Here we are not discussing how my thought thought processes Denken  look to an intelligence different than mine, but how it looks to me. In any case, the picture another intelligence (mind) forms of my thought Denkens  cannot be a truer one than my own. [this part a mess] Only if I myself were not the being doing the thinking denkende, but rather, a thought dasDenken was to confront me as the activity of a being unfamiliar to me, could I say that, although my picture of its thought Denkens  may occur in a certain way, I am unable to know what the real nature of that beings thought-process Denken-may be like in itself.

Only if the thought-process were not my own, but the activity of a being quite different from me, could I maintain that, notwithstanding my forming a definite idea of these thought-processes, their real nature was beyond my comprehension.

[28] So far, there is not the slightest reason to look upon my own thought Denken from any point of view other than my own. After all, I contemplate the rest of the world by means of thought Denkens. Why should I make my thought Denken an exception?

[29] I think I have sufficiently justified making thought Denken the starting point for my world contemplation/view. When Archimedes had invented the lever, he believed glaubte  he could lift the whole cosmos out of its hinges, if only he could find a point where he could support his instrument. He needed a point that was self-supporting, not carried by anything else. In thought Denken we have the principle of self-subsisting. Starting with thought, then, let us attempt to understand the world. We can grasp thought Denken through itself. Thought can be grasped with thought. The only question is whether we can, with thought , grasp anything else other than thought.
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3.11 Start With Thinking
[30] I have so far spoken of thought  Denken without taking into account its vehicle, human consciousness. Most contemporary philosophers will object: Before there can be thought Denken, there must be consciousness. According to them, we should start, not from thought Denken, but from consciousness. There is no thought Denken, they say, without consciousness. To this I must reply: In order to clarify the relationship between thought Denken and consciousness, I must think nachdenken about it. In doing so I presuppose thought Denken.

To this could be said: If the philosopher wants to understand consciousness, he then makes use of thought Denkens and to that extent does require thinking    first; yet in the ordinary course of life thought Denken arises within consciousness, therefore consciousness must be there before thought   . Now if this answer were given to the world-creator, who was about to create thought Denken, it would without doubt be justified. Thought Denken cannot, of course, arise before consciousness. Philosophers are not concerned with world creation, but with the understanding of it. They are in search of the starting point Ausgangspunkte, not for creating, but for understanding the world. I find it very strange that philosophers should be accused of troubling themselves, first and foremost, with the correctness of their principles instead of turning straight to the objects which they want to understand. The world creator had above all to know how to find a vehicle for thought Denken, but the philosopher has to seek a secure foundation from which to understand what already exists. How does it help us to start with consciousness and subject it to our thinking denkenden contemplation (make it an object of thought), if we do not first know how far thought denkende is in fact able to give us insight into things?

[31] We must first look at thought Denken  in a completely neutral way, without reference to a thinking denkendes subject or a thought gedachtes object. For both subject and object are concepts already formed by thought Denken. There is no denying: Before anything else can be understood, thought Denken must be understood. Whoever denies this overlooks the fact that, as human beings, we are not the first link in the chain of creation but the last. In order to explain the world by means of concepts, we cannot start from the elements of existence which came first in time, but we must begin with that element which is given to us as the nearest and most intimate. We cannot, in a single leap, transport ourselves back to the beginning of the world in order to begin our studies from there, but we must start from the present (proceses) moment and see whether we can ascend from the later to the earlier. As long as Geology assumed fantastic catastrophes to explain the present condition of the earth, it groped in darkness. It was only when it started with the study of those processes presently at work on the earth, and reasoned backward from these to the past, that it gained a firm foundation. As long as Philosophy goes on assuming principles like atom, motion, matter, will, or the unconscious, it will hover in the air. Only if the philosopher will look at the absolute last as the first can the goal be reached. This absolutely last thing in world evolution (world-process) is thought Denken.

3.12 Application Of Thought
[32] There are people who say: We cannot determine with certainty whether our thought  Denken in itself is correct or not. That to this extent, then, our starting point remains a doubtful one. It would be just as sensible to raise doubts about whether a tree is correct or not. Thought Denken is a fact, and it is meaningless to speak of the truth or falsehood of a fact. At most I can have doubts about whether thought Denken is correctly applied, just as I can doubt whether a certain tree supplies wood suitable for the making of this or that useful object. To show to what extent the application of thought Denkens to the world is correct or incorrect is precisely the task of this writing. I can understand someone doubting whether we can come to any conclusion about the world by means of thought Denken, but I find it incomprehensible that anyone can doubt the correctness of thought Denkens in itself.






[4] Observation and thinking Denken are the two starting points Ausgangspunkte for all intellectual striving geistige Streben of human beings, to the degree we are conscious of such striving.

Philosophers have started from various primary polarities: Idea and Reality, Subject and Object, Appearance and Thing-in-itself, Ego and Non-Ego, Idea and Will, Concept and Matter, Force and Substance, the Conscious and the Unconscious. But it is easy to show that all these polarities are preceded by that of observation and thinking Denken, this being the fundamental and most important polarity for the human being.

[19] This is I, as a thinker Denkender; for I give to my existence the definite, self-determined content of thinking denkenden activity. From here I can make a start and ask: Do other things exist in the same or in some other sense?

[25] This is why, for the investigation of all events in the world, there is no more primary starting point Ausgangspunkte than thinking Denken itself.

[29] I think I have sufficiently justified making thought thinking Denken the starting point for my world contemplation/view.

Starting with thinking, then, let us attempt to understand the world. We can grasp thought Denken through itself. The only question is whether we can, with thinking , grasp anything else other than thought

[30] Philosophers are not concerned with world creation, but with the understanding of it. They are in search of the starting point Ausgangspunkte, not for creating, but for understanding the world.

[32] There are people who say: We cannot determine with certainty whether our thinking Denken in itself is correct or not. That to this extent, then, our starting point remains a doubtful one.

Author's addition, 1918
[1] In the preceding discussion I have pointed out the significant difference between thinking and all other activities of the soul, as a fact that reveals itself to a truly unbiased observation. Anyone who does not strive for this impartial observation will be tempted to raise objections against this discussion such as: “When I think about a rose, this thought, after all, still only expresses a relationship of my “I” to the rose, just as it does when I feel the beauty of the rose. A relationship exists between “I” and object in the case of thinking precisely as it does, for example, in the case of feeling or perceiving.” Those who make this objection fail to take into consideration the fact that it is only in the activity of thinking Denkens that the “I” or Ego knows itself to be completely at one with what is active, right into all the branching out of this thinking activity. With no other soul activity (activity of mind) is this so completely the case. For example, when pleasure is felt, a careful observer can very likely distinguish to what extent the Ego knows itself to be one with something active and to what extent something passive is present in such a way that the pleasure merely happens to the Ego. The same is true for all other soul activities.

But we should not confuse “having thought-pictures” with working out thoughts by means of thinking. Thought-pictures can appear in the mind in a dream-like way, as vague promptings. But this is not thinking. ---To be sure, someone could point out: If this is what you mean by “thinking”, then your thinking contains willing, and we are dealing not only with thinking, but also with the willing of thinking. But this would only justify us in saying: Real thinking must always be willed. Yet this has nothing to do with the characterization of thinking given here. It may be that the nature of thinking requires that it always be willed, but the point that matters is that everything that is willed ---while being willed---appears to the Ego as completely its own activity and under its own supervision. We would have to say that, just because the nature of thinking is as it has been described here, it must appear to the observer as willed through and through. Anyone who makes a genuine effort to understand all the facts relevant to an evaluation of thinking cannot fail to notice that this activity has the unique character we have described here.

[2] A person highly regarded as a thinker by the author of this book has objected that one cannot speak of thinking as I have done here, because what we believe we observe as active thinking is only an illusion. What one is actually observing is the result of an unconscious activity that underlies thinking. Only because this unconscious activity is not observed does the illusion arise that the observed thinking exists in its own right, in itself, in the same way that the light from a rapid succession of electric sparks deceives us into believing that we are seeing a continuous movement. This objection is also based on an inexact view of the facts. Whoever makes this objection fails to take into account that it is the Ego itself that ---standing within thinking--- observes its own activity. The Ego would have to stand outside thinking in order to be misled by the sort of deception caused by the rapidly consecutive lighting of electric sparks. One could go still further and say: To make such a comparison is to forcibly deceive oneself, like someone who claims that a moving light is newly lit by an unknown hand at every point it appears. ---No, whoever wants to see in thinking (thought) anything other than an activity that is brought forth and supervised by the Ego must first become blind to the plain facts that are there for the seeing, in order then to invent a hypothetical activity as the basis for thinking. Those who do not blind themselves will have to recognize that whatever they “think onto” thinking in this way only leads away from its real nature. Unprejudiced observation shows that nothing should be counted as belonging to the nature of thinking except what is found in thinking itself. One cannot come to something that is the cause of thinking if one steps outside the realm of thinking (thought) itself.