The science of thought/creativity
One of the first things you have to understand about the universe if you ever hope to figure anything out is that there’s a logical explanation for everything. If something seems mysterious it’s only because you don’t understand it.
If this is true then how do we explain emotions, creativity or inspiration? You can’t put them into a bottle and study them. So how do you make sense of them? You do it the same way Galileo determined that the earth is round and orbits the sun without traveling around the world or being able to look at the solar system from the outside. You analyze what you know and formulate a theory that most reliably, simply and elegantly explains what you’ve seen and predicts what will happen.
Put my theory on the science of thought to the test, and you’ll find it is much more useful at explaining and predicting emotions, creativity and inspiration than the cop-out answer that they’re mystical, magical and unknowable.
Thoughts follow the same rules of science as chemistry and physics. You can’t get a new thought from nothing. In order to have new ideas you either have to learn them from a source outside yourself or combine existing thoughts in new ways. Your thoughts will continue on the same trajectory until acted upon by a new thought.
Ultimately, thoughts are nothing more than mathematical equations. Every event that happens to you is a new variable for your brain to calculate and find a solution to, and there are so many variables involved in doing something as simple as crossing the street that if you gave your full attention to everything you did you’d never make it out of the house in the morning, but that’s okay because your brain is a cosmically powerful computer and can take simple tasks such as crossing the street and calculate them practically subconsciously, and it can do other tasks, like beating your heart, completely subconsciously.
Now look at how elegantly these simple concepts make complete sense of the mysterious concepts of emotions, creativity and inspiration.
Our emotions are the product of our brain subconsciously calculating all the variables in our life. Falling in love seems so mysterious, but when you take a step back and tally all the variables it makes logical sense. The logic might not add up to a responsible decision, but when people make bad decisions it’s because they don’t have enough knowledge in their brain to calculate their decisions correctly. However, to them it appears logical because they’ve come to the most logical conclusion based on the variables they have.
This is why psychologists have a bad reputation for asking people questions and never giving answers. If the ‘patient’ knew all the variables in the first place they wouldn’t have a problem because they could find the solution on their own. If the psychologist were to give them the answer the ‘patient’ would reject it because the correct answer doesn’t add up using the limited amount of variables they’re working with. So the only way for the psychologist to get the patient to see the correct answer is to walk them through the problem and let them solve it for themselves.
If you need more evidence that emotions are subconscious logic then look at your own dreams. Psychologists are sometimes able to interpret dreams because they’re a logical representation of the variables in our lives even though they’re almost entirely the product of our subconscious. Sometimes the logic is obvious such as when a soldier has nightmares about war. Sometimes they’re mysterious, but even when they’re mysterious we know it’s not because they’re magical it’s only because we don’t fully, consciously understand the variables in the equation.
Creativity is just a matter of combining variables in innovative ways. Sometimes the logic is obvious such as in the case of artists like M.C. Escher. While Norman Rockwell and H.R. Geiger may seem whimsically creative, if you walked through their childhoods you could identify all the variables that led them to develop the styles they chose. And neither of those two artists could have possibly arrived at the other’s style because the variables in their lives didn’t add up to the other’s conclusions.
Inspiration is the simplest of all. Whenever we all of a sudden have a brilliant flash of insight it’s because something caused us to combine the exact two thoughts in the exact way to come to a logical conclusion that we were previously missing a vital variable to arrive at.
Now let’s take this a step further. The sum of all your knowledge (aka variables) and thinking skills (aka formulas) yield your identity and your philosophy on life. The more (significant) variables you understand and the better your thinking skills are the more of a true individual you’ll be and the more successful your philosophy on life will be. The less you know, the less you can think and the less you have thought about the equation of life the more incomplete of a person you’ll be and the worse life skills you’ll have.
Originally published at thewisesloth.com on December 22, 2009.