• Seeker
    136
    As inspired by this topic.

    Excessive thinking habits are a leftover from our past. From an evolutionairy point of view excessive thinking makes sense as it enabled us to outsmart all our predators (and eachother) while manipulating and shaping our surroundings to work for us. It serves us as long as there's a (valid) outlet for it. It brought us unrivaled problem solving capabilities enabling us not only to outsmart 'the rest' but to become the dominant species as well. In a manner of speaking nature just forgot to add the mechanism to dumb it down again once we were safe, atleast not in all of us. From an anthropological perspective people thinking less, those not (still) trying to solve problems (all the time), could (theoretically) be better fitted to modern day society. Therefor it is not so much an addiction (as proposed by others) as it is a consequence of who we are, i.e. biological 'thinking-machines'.

    There's a parallel here with excessive food consumption as well, which is also a remnant (mechanism) of our past, as our body urges us to store fat (reserves) in times of plenty and just keeps at it as long as times of plenty remain.

    This is what I propose, can you agree?

    Personal disclaimer
    I'm not that proficient in the English language as a means of communication so can only hope having made the above text readable and understandable enough to communicate the gist of what I propose.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    I'm an advocate of skepticism - there's no point to thinking, forget about overthinking. It's not that you'll get to truth anyway for the infinite regress argument clearly demonstrates, no matter how many proofs you line up, how many finite steps you take, you'll be as far from the truth as you were when you hadn't even started. The epistemic project was doomed from the start, oui monsieur/mademoiselle? The other alternatives are go around in circles or scream "because I said so!" The choices then are:

    1. Exhaustion (infinite regress)
    2. Vertigo (circularity)
    3. Exasperation (axioms)


    The follow-up to that is obvious, too obvious to mention, oui?

  • javi2541997
    2.2k
    From an anthropological perspective people thinking less, those not (still) trying to solve problems (all the time), could (theoretically) be better fitted to modern day society.Seeker

    But I think that's a misery. One of the things which triggers me the most is the fact that the less thinkers tend to be happier than the rest or even they can achieve good positions in their professional carriers.
    To be honest, think less is the easiest way possible of existence. We are forced (sooner or later) to think and rethink about everything. This is the point of evolution of our especie and what differences us from the rest of the living world.
  • Tom Storm
    5k
    Perhaps it's not excessive thinking (do you mean rumination?) that is the problem. It is inadequate thinking. Do you have specific evidence that justifies the claims that 1) there is too much thinking and that 2) it is causing us harm in some way?

    I would agree that good thinking can be simple and efficient and need not take up prodigious amounts of time.
  • Christoffer
    1.4k
    In a manner of speaking nature just forgot to add the mechanism to dumb it down again once we were safeSeeker

    Nature didn't forget this because that's not how evolution works. And we're not even close to an evolutionary transition into a "dumber" human because we are now "safe". People have, for only around 30 years, been somewhat safe in the manner of speaking you position it. Before this, the threat of nuclear war, the threat and reality of the second world war, and then just go back in history for more and more threat level ups and downs, means people have never been "safe" and intellectually we have never been it either.

    As humanity has grown into a much more complex state, where we incorporate the entire world and universe into our assessments of possible problems, we've never been in a more complex state of thinking. At this time in history, only the ignorant would position themselves as "safe", even if it's true for their own personal lives.

    But what this topic is actually focusing on is more of the necessity to "breathe" and not be overwhelmed by all that thinking. The world changes faster and faster and demands a much faster pace of intellectual and rational thinking about it, so the pressure on the individual to understand and think about world complexity is increasing as the timeframe to formulate a thought around topics decreases.

    So we're left with being pressured to think faster and more complex in order to be able to grasp the complexity of modern times.

    Within this concept, we can definitely see a need to pause, otherwise, we become consumed with a complexity that risk breaking down our overall ability to organize internal thoughts. This is why I think we actually have positive scientific results from meditation. It is, in its essence, a way to "pause" our minds and let our critical thinking "defragment".

    The complexity of today, especially the interconnected domino effect of increasing complexity as a result of clashes between cultures, classes, technology, ideology etc. that happens at an increasingly faster and faster pace, requires a mind that is much more intellectually evolved than what we have today. The only way to be able to grasp the entirety of it without going insane would be to find a way to "pause" all of that thinking. Be it with meditation or "intellectual vacation" (like shutting everything like social interactions, work, and information technology off for a while).

    There are scientific results that shows very clearly the importance of "shutting off" our minds at a regular basis.

    On a side note, this is why I think Nietsche became clinically insane in the end, apart from just the cancer doing it. He was clearly a man who couldn't pause thinking, it occupied his mind all the time and the incident with the horse was probably the incident that led them to discover the tumor, misdiagnosed as syphilis. So more or less, his breakdown was probably a result of a realization that the world didn't listen to what he had to say, that the world around him ignored his attempts to humanize a godless world and it shook him into a severe depression that was increasingly deepened by the realization of dying.

    If anything would put someone in an insane state, it would be the realization of the futility of their thinking and the realization they would die before that thinking led to anything good in the world. The irony then, that his sister helped produce the nazi regime by corrupting all those thoughts he wished would help the world. As a fan of rational reasoning and intellectuals, she's in my opinion even worse than Hitler since Hitler just became a pawn of a self-indulgent ideology based on her corruption of an intellectual who wanted nothing but to bring sense to a senseless world.
  • Joshs
    3.9k

    ↪Seeker Perhaps it's not excessive thinking (do you mean rumination?) that is the problem. It is inadequate thinkingTom Storm

    :up:
  • T Clark
    9.8k
    Excessive thinking habits are a leftover from our past. From an evolutionairy point of view excessive thinking makes sense as it enabled us to outsmart all our predators (and eachother) while manipulating and shaping our surroundings to work for us. It serves us as long as there's a (valid) outlet for it. It brought us unrivaled problem solving capabilities enabling us not only to outsmart 'the rest' but to become the dominant species as well. In a manner of speaking nature just forgot to add the mechanism to dumb it down again once we were safe, atleast not in all of us.Seeker

    As @Christoffer wrote, that's not how evolution works. There's not a one to one relationship between genes, traits, and evolutionary benefits. God or Darwin gave us brains, nervous systems, and whole bodies that work as a unified whole. Rationales for why particular traits came to be dominant are oversimplifications if not just wrong.

    Beyond that, I don't see any reason to believe that we need our cognitive abilities less now than we did in the past.
  • T Clark
    9.8k
    I'm not that proficient in the English language as a means of communication so can only hope having made the above text readable and understandable enough to communicate the gist of what I propose.Seeker

    Forgot to mention - your English is fine. Clear and easy to understand.
  • Cuthbert
    999
    What's called 'over-thinking' is generally under-thinking - sticking on a relatively irrelevant aspect of a problem and so missing the main point. I don't think there's too much thinking going on. Probably not enough of the right sort.
  • Ciceronianus
    2.5k
    Excessive thinking habits are a leftover from our past.Seeker

    There's a parallel here with excessive food consumption as well,Seeker

    Well, there's bound to be fewer leftovers given excessive food consumption, so perhaps excessive thinking isn't that much of a problem. In any case, let's refrain from thinking about it, and not add to any excess, just in case.
  • Seeker
    136


    I see what you mean allthough I am also of the opinion time must be taken for thinking things through as well depending on the (perceived) problem, variables do exist. Thanks.
  • Seeker
    136
    But I think that's a misery. One of the things which triggers me the most is the fact that the less thinkers tend to be happier than the rest or even they can achieve good positions in their professional carriers.
    To be honest, think less is the easiest way possible of existence. We are forced (sooner or later) to think and rethink about everything. This is the point of evolution of our especie and what differences us from the rest of the living world.
    javi2541997

    I agree as 'blissed ignorance' only takes it so far. Thanks for your input.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    I see what you mean allthough I am also of the opinion time must be taken for thinking things through as well depending on the (perceived) problem, variables do exist. Thanks.Seeker

    I actually don't like thinking at all. That's why my life's a mess. I'm rather pleased that it is. Go figure!
  • Seeker
    136
    Perhaps it's not excessive thinking (do you mean rumination?)Tom Storm
    Not rumination but the constant accumulation of new information and the process of thinking it all through even though there isnt any point to doing so as it doesnt impact us in any other way than keeping us busy thinking.

    Do you have specific evidence that justifies the claims that 1) there is too much thinking and that 2) it is causing us harm in some way?Tom Storm

    The rapidly growing pile of useless information found online might be just the evidence backing up such claims. However all is relative, my perspective might be distorted or obscured by my personal perception of things. Thanks for the input.
  • Seeker
    136


    Thank you for the extensive reply, there's a lot of sense in it and allthough I am not in total agreement it is food for thought nevertheless, appreciate it.
  • Tom Storm
    5k
    Ok. Interesting. I think the issue of us being bombarded by information useless and helpful is another problem. I’m fairly certain most people just ignore most of it. I know I do.
  • Seeker
    136
    Beyond that, I don't see any reason to believe that we need our cognitive abilities less now than we did in the past.T Clark

    Perhaps it is not about 'less' but in the way we are using it differently from 'before' and the way that it impact's us in our ongoing development as a species. Outsmarting lions vs avoiding peer conflict might have very different implications in the way our grey matter is impacted. I can see your reasoning though, survival equals survival no matter the habitat. Thanks.

    Forgot to mention - your English is fine. Clear and easy to understand.T Clark

    Thanks for the confirmation but I do feel sorta 'linquistically handicapped' as I do get the gist of most of the (English) things I come across but still have to use Google translate extensively for the translation of my (native) vocabulary to English with the grammar being yet another thing alltogether. Appreciate the feedback :up:
  • Seeker
    136
    Probably not enough of the right sort.Cuthbert

    I can agree with that last sentence. Thanks.
  • Seeker
    136
    Well, there's bound to be fewer leftovers given excessive food consumption, so perhaps excessive thinking isn't that much of a problem.Ciceronianus

    It might be if it gets itself in the way of more pressing matters.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    OP, you might also be interested in:

    1. Kotov syndrome: In Kotov's 1971 book Think Like a Grandmaster, he described a situation when a player thinks very hard for a long time in a complicated position but does not find a clear path, then, running low on time, quickly makes a poor move, often a blunder.

    2. The Cenitpede's dilemma

    3. Choke (sports).

    4. Analysis paralysis

    Visit Wikipedia and follow the white rabbit (links).

    Bonam Fortunam.
  • Seeker
    136
    I will look into it, thanks.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    I will look into it, thanksSeeker

    Don't mention it!
  • I like sushi
    3.9k
    I generally think people do not think too much. If there is a ‘modern’ issue it is likely more along the lines of ‘distraction’ that excessive thinking.
  • javi2541997
    2.2k
    I generally think people do not think too much. If there is a ‘modern’ issue it is likely more along the lines of ‘distraction’ that excessive thinking.I like sushi

    :up: :100:
  • Seeker
    136


    Thanks for your input.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k
    Excessive Thinking produces the same effect as a Zen Koan and Zen Koans are supposedly good for one's mental and, surprise, surprise, physical health (nirvana). I recommend a short cut to stretching minds to the limit, to breaking point: Paradoxes. Experience first hand what Excessive Thinking really means without Thinking ... Excessively.

    The point to whatever this is is to break the mind, into as many pieces as possible, wait for it to reassemble itself. What has it become? Lather, rinse, repeat until ... sabrá Mandrake!
  • Bylaw
    246
    I don't think these are the same: thinking about a Zen Koan and excessive thinking. First, thinking about Zen Koans in generally surrounded by meditation. Second, excessive thinking, generally, wanders, digresses, goes off on tangents. Of course this will happen to some degree when mulling a Koan, however you will keep coming back to the Koan. There's a discipline there. Third, the Koan itself is not a random thoughtt, but one chosen to symbollically relate to the problems we make for ourselves or what is really going on or how to suffer less or.....

    Compared to this the modern thinking often has no center, goes from association to association while being immersed in each one not witnessing,say, the rising and falling of these. When working with a Zen Koan there will like be shorter to longer periods of mental silence or less wordy periods where the images of the koan are contemplated. And all the time some central problem/solution/facet of Zen ontology is holding an anchor in the excessive thinking.

    I do think one can think obsessively and have something similar happen. But the stuff most people are thinking on the subway or while not focusing on their food and so on, I think it is very much less likely to create a burst point. It could go on forever without gaining much intensity.
  • Agent Smith
    7.6k


    Syād, on point! My view on the matter was based on anecdotal evidence, valid for only one individual, viz. the experiencer. I guess one's experiences are customizable to some extent and therein lies the rub, oui mon ami?

    A Zen koan is basically an input the brain can't handle - am I correct? If so overthinking is Koanesque because one usually overthinks when the problem is too complex to process or one is too dumb to handle what could very well be quite simple to analyze.
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