The subthemes of Thinking discussed above came to mind from Pope’s views on human cognition, a painting of a person thinking, a claim in song that strong love coexists with weak academics, and a movie with genius almost destroyed. Here are more subthemes that don’t link so directly to any of the four works of art.
A Beautiful Mind depicts the rise and psychological collapse of the American mathematician John Nash, a Nobel Laureate in Economics. Played by Russell Crowe, Nash gained fame early for an astonishing discovery in game theory, the Nash Equilibrium. But his mind betrayed him. Here is a harrowing scene from the movie where Nash has slipped into schizophrenia. Nevertheless, Nash’s mathematical insight was a triumph of powerful and creative thinking, which brings to mind several subthemes.
Alexander Pope wrote “An Essay on Man” and starts Epistle II with oft-quoted lines about the cognitive abilities of Man. The passage refers frequently to the efforts of mankind to think, but mocks those efforts as inadequate and unsure. Other themes of Thinking come to mind from the poem.
“Interior at Aracharon,” painted by Edouard Manet, presents a young man as he holds an open book in his lap, lost in thought. He may be daydreaming, or he may be struggling to grasp and remember what the book says, or he may be thinking about any subject. Other books or papers lie strewn on the table and the chair behind him. He is chewing away, grappling with something in his mind. Across the table, an older woman too may be thinking or may be idly gazing through the open doors to the ocean beyond. Thinking, and subthemes about it, fill this painting.
“What a Wonderful World,” as sung by Sam Cooke, nods at thinking, but mostly negatively. The singer admits to being a poor student in high school, but his academic inadequacies have nothing to do with his true love. If grade point average can win your love for me, he will try to think harder and raise his GPA. You can enjoy the song here and then consider these subthemes of Thinking.