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The Elements of Thought in Relationship

The trick in learning the elements of thought is to express these ideas in a number of different ways until their nonlinear interrelationships begin to become intuitive to you. For example, you might think of the parts of reasoning as analogous to the essential parts of the human body. They are all present whether we are healthy or not. Like the parts of the body, the parts of thought function in an interdependent fashion. One way to express those interrelationships is that:

  • Our purpose affects the manner in which we ask questions;

  • The manner in which we ask questions affects the information we gather;

  • The information we gather affects the way we interpret it;

  • The way we interpret information affects the way we conceptualize it;

  • The way we conceptualize information affects the assumptions we make;

  • The assumptions we make affect the implications that follow from our thinking;

  • The implications that follow from our thinking affect the way we see things, our point of view.

Test the Idea
Thinking Through the Elements of Your Reasoning

Select an important conclusion that you have reasoned to—for example, a decision to purchase a house or car or take a new job, or even to get married. Identify the circumstances in which you made that decision, some of the inferences you made in the process (about the likely advantages and disadvantages). State the likely implications of your decision, the consequences it has had, and will have, in your life, the information you took into account in making this decision, the way you expressed the question to yourself, the way you looked at your life and your future (while reasoning through the question). See if you can grasp the interrelationship of all of these elements in your thinking. Don't be surprised if you find this to be a difficult task.

In the remainder of this chapter, we will give a more detailed account of concepts, assumptions, inferences, implications, and point of view. We will direct special attention to the distinction between inferences and assumptions, as we find that people often have difficulty distinguishing these two. But once you become comfortable differentiating these two elements, the others tend to fall into place much more readily. Light is shed on all the elements throughout this resource. Periodically put down the book and see if you can elaborate on the elements of thought in your own words using your own examples. Success in these acts of active elaboration are what will make the concepts yours. You must talk ideas, write ideas, think ideas into your system.

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