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Thinking, Additional Subthemes

Subthemes: Formal Logic, Records, Expressions

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.

Formal Logic: An elaborate set of tools and notation enable logicians to state and analyze arguments in terms of their formal properties (regardless of content) . If P, then Q and so forth. All computation, down to the silicon gates and registers, consists of extraordinarily rapid logical operations. Modal logic contributes additional analytic tools such as “there may exist.” Kurt Gödel even drew on on a very old argument to prove formally the existence of God. As a form of abstract reasoning, in that respect like the outer reaches of higher math, the demands upon thinking are extreme.

Records: We offer a clutch of superlatives for you to ponder related to Thinking.

  • Most Jeopardy wins – Ken Jennings, 74 games in 2004. Jeopardy

  • Highest IQ recorded – Highly controversial, for example Ainan Celeste Cawley, at 263 as “calculated” by his parents. Science Trends

  • Most complex fiction book – Widely considered to be “Finnegans Wake” by James Joyce (1939). BuzzFeed

  • Highest percentage of Advanced Placement test takers – Florida. WCTV

  • Most prestigious science awards – Nobel Prizes in chemistry, economics, physics and physiology or medicine; the Turing Prize in computer science; the Fields Medal for mathematicians under the age of 40 (awarded once every four years) ; the Abel Prize in mathematics; and the Breakthrough Prize for fundamental discoveries in physics, life sciences, and mathematics. Canadian Institute for Knowledge Development

Expressions: The act of thinking or people who are adept at thinking (or challenged) have spawned related figurative sayings. For a master list of online sources that have contributed idioms to the various Themes, see Work Additional Subthemes. For this collection of 68, aside from identifying expressions myself, I drew on The Free Dictionary, English Lesson Via Skype, SpellZone, and 7 ESL.

a bee in your bonnet (preoccupied by something, to be obsessed with something)
a brain like a sieve (extremely forgetful)
a light-bulb moment (a flash of inspiration or enlightenment)
a mind like a steel trap (quick, aggressive mental style)
a mind of one’s own (capable of independent thoughts and actions)
a senior moment (a short-term lapse in memory)
a shot/stab in the dark (a guess)
at the back of one’s mind (mildly preoccupied by but not constantly thought about)
blue-sky thinking (extremely optimistic imagining of the future)
boffin (highly educated person)
brain box (extremely intelligent person)
brainiac (extremely intelligent person)
by no stretch of the imagination (definitely not the case)
flight of fancy (an impractical but imaginative idea)
go round the bend (go crazy)
go to your head (something unjustifiably flatters you)
have your wits about you (cool, calm and collected)
have/put your thinking cap on (deliberately pondering an issue)
in a world of one’s own (concerned with one’s own thoughts, not the surroundings)
in cloud cuckoo land (a state of over-the-top fantasy)
in one ear and out the other (heard but not processed and quickly forgotten)
in one’s mind’s eye (in one’s imagination)
in the dark about (ignorant of)
jog someone’s memory (cause someone to suddenly remember something)
know what’s what (be knowledgeable, savvy, street smart)
lost in thought (caught up in pondering, not aware of surroundings)
mind over matter (willpower will overcome physical obstacles)
not have a leg to stand on (no arguments can be made for the position)
not see the forest for the trees (too concerned with smaller points to see the major point)
not the sharpest knife (dumb)
out of sight, out of mind (if something is no longer visible, you forget about it)
penny for your thoughts (what are you thinking about?)
perish the thought (stop thinking about that!)
put two and two together (realize something from basic facts)
quick/slow on the uptake (smart/dumb)
rings a bell (sounds familiar, reminds you of something)
slip one’s mind (be forgotten)
split hairs (make extremely fine distinctions in an argument)
street smart (savvy, though not learned from books or school)
take a trip down memory lane (take a figurative journey through one’s memories)
take stock of (assess and think about a situation)
think aloud/out loud (talk about the progression of one’s reasoning as it happens)
think before (doing something)
think big (shoot the moon of a hoped-for achievement)
think fit (do something)
think greatly/highly/much of someone or something (admire)
think ill of someone (wish bad luck or misfortune on a person)
think inside/outside the box (not be creative or be creative)
think little of someone or something (disparage)
think long and hard (ponder a point at length)
think nothing of (doing something)
think on your feet (react to events effectively without any preparation)
think out/over/through (ponder)
think positive (stay upbeat, optimistic)
think the better of someone (have an improved opinion of someone)
think the sun rises and sets on someone (admire the person greatly)
think the world of someone or something (admire greatly)
think to oneself (keep silent about one’s thoughts)
think twice (reconsider a judgment)
think up (imagine, create something)
think upon something (ponder it)
think with your little head (let sexual attraction cloud your thinking)
thinking man’s/women’s crumpet (popular with the opposite sex because of brains and looks)
to my way of thinking (as I see the situation; to my lights)
toy with (think idly about)
train of thought (line of reasoning)
what was she thinking (how could she have thought that action was appropriate?)
wishful thinking (hoping unrealistically for a result)

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