On the way we relate to the world\thinking the way we think

all objects fall down to the earth. This doesn’t involve a measure. Also we could say, if some wood produce heat, this wood should.

This is an analogy. Analogy may come from old lands, and interestingly, at least in my perspective, it is related to metaphor, and may have a common root with poetry and language.

The question is related to the evolution of thought. Is there something like categories of thought which almost all we think and do depends on?

Do we work mainly by analogy and comparison? Is there any study on it? Is it hereditary from monkeys?

In other words: Is the way we relate to the world, mainly by comparison and analogy, the only way?

Or is something else out there?

There are many questions but they are like ‘one question’. You might notice I’m quite puzzled.

1 Answer(s)

I find the question a little muddled but have some relevant thoughts.

All thought depends on categories and categories are always in the form A/not-A (belonging or not-belonging to the category). I suppose this may be called a comparison of sorts.

Perhaps Kant is your man since he discusses the categories at length and reduces them for a prior phenomenon that is not an instance of a category. The space-time world-of-mind that he reduces is made out of categories and they are unavoidable. Hence it is often called the ‘world of opposites’. This is same idea as that by which the manifest world is made out of sets.

All things that exist or not-exist are members of one of these two categories. The only way beyond the categories would be to go beyond the categorising mind and this would be to go beyond the world. The ordinary mind cannot do this since its functioning is dependent on the categories.

When Nicolas de Cusa describes his vision of God he speaks of going beyond the ‘coincidence of contradictories’, by which he means the categories of thought. His vision is not rare and if you look up ‘non-duality’ you’ll find a well-discussed idea and a well-tried method for transcending ordinary mind and the categories. The final word is given to Nagarjuna who proves that all categories are mental productions and in this sense not truly real.

I’d be tempted to agree that all thought involves comparison and measurement but I’m still pondering. It may depend (as ever) on how we define the words.

Much of the literature of the Wisdom traditions deals with the issues you raise here, whether directly or by implication. You might like George Spencer Brown’s Laws of Form, which describes the emergence of categories from the distinctionless state. Bradley’s Appearance and Reality takes a series of categories and reduces them by revealing them as purely mental/conceptual. Hegel reduces the categories to his ‘Absolute Idea’ by way of a process of ‘sublation’.

There’s lots of literature since the topic is so important. I’m not sure that we always think by way of comparison and analogy, as you speculate, but our intellect seems to be wholly dependent on the categories of thought for its thinking processes. For a proof try thinking of something that is not in a category and thus comparable with or measurable against what is not in that category.

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