Thinking and Reasoning: Differences

Thinking and Reasoning: Differences


Sometimes we hear someone saying “his reasoning was rather convincing”. Next day the same person may say something similar about thinking. What is the difference and why should we pay attention to it?

If you have ever taken certain logic classes, you may try to remember the time your teacher mentioned the term “thinking”. The thing is that you probably will not be able to do so. This is logic and its theory that are the reasons why we have a strict distinction between these two terms.

Most of the time logical investigations are directed to the questions of structure and the form of our reasoning. If you open a book on logic, you will see there a lot of formulas and some sort of calculations. You may find it rather strange, but this is how logic works.

Logic, especially the classic understanding of it, is interested in the way you formulate your opinion or any other type of description of reality. In logic, the person does not pay as much attention to what is being discussed, they only care about how you say this and that. If you combine words correctly and then build the text sentence by sentence in a strict logical order, then you are doing fine. People who are into logic investigate your type of telling something and then make a conclusion whether you told the truth or not. Logic is something you should learn if you want to argue anything. Logic will definitely help you to persuade others and to see any errors in their argumentation if there are some.

In order to understand what logicians mean by truth, let us try to investigate something the way they do it every time.

Firstly, remember that every conclusive and persuasive statement should have its premises. This is the first condition for the statement to be a statement. They may be unarticulated, but they should be understandable. Secondly, every statement has its subject and predicate. A predicate is a quality you prescribe to the subject. In order to have a persuasive and correct conclusion, you should have minimum two premises, which, both an articulated and an unarticulated, can be formulated as a subject-predicate statements.

Let us try to be reasonable in an example. When you say something like “I saw the black cloud lately, I think it is going to rain soon”, logicians will divide your statement into certain meaningful blocks. The first will be premises and the last one is a conclusion. Here “I saw the black cloud” is the first premise. The next one is unarticulated and it can be something like “it is known that there is a high possibility of rain if the clouds are black.” Now, we combine the second premise with the first one and we get the conclusion.

Thinking in Formulas

In a certain book about logic this statement will look like this: “if g then b; g, therefore b”. It is a rather primitive example, without adding any innovations of non-classical logic, but it can show this division of sense and form. Logic cares about the form. If you are telling the truth but without having logical structure of your statement, then no one from the “land of logic” will believe you.

As you have probably understood, reasoning is the type of connection of sentences and information which then leads to formulation of a logical statement. Reasoning is when you connect your thoughts in a logical order. Reasoning is when you care about the form. Sure, you care about the meaning, too, but the thing is that the result of reasoning is a statement and not a meaning. The result of reasoning is a correct formulation of something and rarely some new knowledge.

Reasoning is when you already have all the required information. You just need to put it into the correct order. The thinking is quite the opposite.

Thinking is the inner process which cannot be articulated. Many writers, especially at the beginning of the twentieth century, were trying to describe the process of thinking on the paper. For example, Dadaists or James Joyce in his “Ulysses” were trying to capture everything that was going on in their mind and write a piece about it. In a certain way they definitely succeeded, as they have shown the problem of thinking. Nevertheless, as Socrates once said, a written thought is not a thought anymore.

Woman Thinking

The problem of thinking is that we cannot control it. We sometimes think about strange or sad things we really do not want to think about. The problem is that we cannot stop. Try to remember yourself trying to get a song out of your head one day and you will understand what kind of problem the thinking problem is.

Thinking is a never-ending process. Moreover, as it was already mentioned, it is something we cannot control from top to bottom. However, it has its own advantages. Coming up with the new ideas is the result of thinking. When you start to understand something after a while, it is a result of thinking, as well.

Have you ever experienced a feeling that you understood something, but just cannot explain it yet. Think about the moments when you feel you gained some new knowledge, but you do not know how to tell someone else about it. Those were the times when you thought deeply. Of course, thinking has its kinds and levels. It also definitely leads you to reasoning.

Reasoning is in some way dependent on thinking. Without any thoughts, you will not be able to grasp a form of statement and define whether it is true or false. The thing is it is not the only task that thinking can fulfill. It is much wider. Until now scientists are not sure whether we know everything about such common processes in our mind and whether we use this ability to think right.

Now we definitely know that thinking is something uncontrollable, undefinable and wider than reasoning. Thinking brings us new knowledge and reasoning does not. However, it is not the excuse to be unable to construct logical statements. Without reasoning we would not even manage to know and explain someone else what thinking is. That is why be sure to use both of your abilities instead of muddling them.


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