How to juggle with thoughts

I tried to learn to juggle once – I didn’t stick at it long enough to reach a level I was happy with, but I remember having to start off just holding the juggling balls, balancing one in each hand, feeling their weight, passing one from one hand to the other, and feeling the change. It was a slow, intense process, rather like starting out with juggling thoughts.

Before getting into formal logic, it’s useful to know there’s a roadmap for the way we instinctively think of the world around us. Aristotle was one of the first of the Greek thinkers to try to define not just the different ways we think about things (see my previous Blog post on The 10 Categories of Being), but the way we think about more than one of those thoughts, how we put them together. He came up with a basic scheme which Cicero later added to. Cicero ended up with 16 approaches. They’ve become known as the 16 Logical Topics of Invention.

Want to know where they come from? Read on...


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The thought experiments continue

You can have so much fun with an idea – throwing it up in the air, turning it upside down, stretching it out like a ball of putty – it’s what Aristotle seems to have loved doing best.

In fact, he came up with a list of top 10 ways to play with a thought.

They’re vital to the Speech, Sense, Style approach we're working on at the moment.

They’re called the 10 Categories of Being.

Aristotle wrote about them in his Categories, one of six books grouped together under the title of the Organon.

The 10 Categories provide a really useful framework for thinking about something – it could be an object, like a bottle, or a mug, or a laptop; it could be an idea like justice or a quality like laughter. Just one thing. Your choice. Choose and hold it in your mind.

How many ways can you describe it in?

In fact, go off, choose something to focus your thoughts on if you haven’t already done so and write down as many as you can, then come back. Off you go. It’s worth doing.

Done that? No? Then go and do it, then come back and read on...


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