Thinking About Thinking

August 29, 2008 § 1 Comment

How do you think? Think about it: How do you think?

Interesting that we can think about our own
thinking, yes?

That is designing.  


I wrote this recently as a backlash to the over-thinking and over-intellectualization of design, ridiculous as it may be. At first, I hedged a bit at posting it because I didn’t want to look like a giant toolbag, and then I hedged a bit more because it occurred to me that I’m going to over-intellectualize it myself in the following paragraphs, but I decided I would go ahead and put it out there, make an argument for it and see what happens.

I’ve debated whether “thinking about thinking” is merely reflecting, but I’ve decided that it isn’t. We think how we do sometimes out of habit, sometimes out of blindness to alternative thought patterns, and one might be predisposed to think of thought as a fixed enterprise, but that’s not true. Thought is action. Sometimes it’s passive action, sometimes active action, but it is action. And how we think affects our perspective, our outward physical action, how others treat us, and our greater interaction with the environment. 

As an example, in the movie “X” starring Denzel Washington as the Civil Rights activist Malcolm X, there’s a moment where he’s in the jail library studying the Koran (I believe). At this point, Malcolm X has not yet gone through his personal evolution into the Civil Rights leader he will later become. And as Malcolm is reading, he has an epiphany, looks up and says to someone in the library, “You mean I can change the way I think?” 

And through that epiphany, he starts a transformation to who he would later become. By reflecting, reshaping, and ultimately redesigning his life by thinking about how he thinks and making a change in order to have a more meaningful interaction with his environment.  

You could argue that there must be a step after “thinking about thinking”, where one takes action on whether to change his or her previous thought pattern, and this may be true. I’m not sure, but that may be true. If so, you could simply add one small phrase to keep it simple and elegant:


How do you think? Think about it: How do you think?

Interesting that we can think about our own thinking, yes?

Make a choice.

That is designing.  


Thoughts, anyone?


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§ One Response to Thinking About Thinking

  • Mary Marin says:

    I loved ALL of your essays! Your aunt Marlene is my friend Suzy’s dear friend, and Suzy turned me on to your blog. I’m glad.


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