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Thinking

  • Thinking is hard work, which is why you don't see a lot of people doing it.

  • It is all right to say exactly what you think if you have learned to think exactly.

  • If only 'right-thinking' people could be replaced by thinking people.

    • Natalie Clifford Barney,
    • "Scatterings" (1910), in Anna Livia, ed., A Perilous Advantage: The Best of Natalie Clifford Barney ()
  • We are always in search of the redeeming formula, the crystallising thought.

  • Thinking gets you nowhere. It may be a fine and noble aid in academic studies, but you can't think your way out of emotional difficulties. That takes something altogether different. You have to make yourself passive then, and just listen. Re-establish contact with a slice of eternity.

  • So you see the imagination needs moodling, — long, inefficient, happy idling, dawdling and puttering.

  • We have a reading, a talking, and a writing public. When shall we have a thinking?

  • It is in the nature of foolish reasonings to seem good to the foolish reasoner.

  • He arrived at ideas the slow way, never skating over the clear, hard ice of logic, nor soaring on the slipstreams of imagination, but slogging, plodding along on the heavy ground of existence.

  • It had never occurred to me before that music and thinking are so much alike. In fact you could say music is another way of thinking, or maybe thinking is another kind of music.

  • I wish people would quit telling me to think. I think. Thinking's easy. It's not thinking that's hard.

  • When our children are old enough, and if we can afford to, we send them to college, where ... the point is to acquire the skills not of positive thinking but of critical thinking ...

  • I am not going to question your opinions. I am not going to meddle with your belief. I am not going to dictate to you mine. All that I say is, examine, inquire. Look into the nature of things. Search out the grounds of your opinions, the for and the against. Know why you believe, understand what you believe, and possess a reason for the faith that is in in you.

  • Drudgery is as necessary to call out the treasures of the mind as harrowing and planting those of the earth.

  • She had lost her way in a labyrinth of conjecture where her worst dread was that she might put her hand upon the clue.

    • Edith Wharton,
    • "The Angel at the Grave," Crucial Instances ()
  • Thought is what changes knowledge into energy.

  • The popular mind has grown so confused that it is no longer able to receive any statement of fact except as an expression of personal feeling.

  • Suggestiveness. Henry could never understand that word as applied in condemnation. Should not everything be suggestive? Or should all literature, art, and humor be a cul-de-sac, suggesting no idea whatsoever? Henry did not want to be uncharitable, but he could not but think that those who used this word in this sense laid themselves open to the suspicion ... that their minds were only receptive of one kind of suggestion, and that a coarse one.

  • Thought ... is still possible, and no doubt actual, wherever men live under the conditions of political freedom. Unfortunately ... no other human capacity is so vulnerable, and it is in fact far easier to act under conditions of tyranny than it is to think.

  • Clichés, stock phrases, adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expresssion and conduct have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality, that is, against the claim on our thinking attention that all events and facts make by virtue of their existence.

  • Absence of thought is indeed a powerful factor in human affairs, statistically speaking the most powerful, not just in the conduct of the many but in the conduct of all.

  • ... every thought is strictly speaking an after-thought.

  • It interrupts any doing, any ordinary activities, no matter what they happen to be. All thinking demands a stop-and-think.

  • ... thinking beings have an urge to speak, speaking beings have an urge to think.

  • There are no dangerous thoughts; thinking itself is dangerous ...

  • To think and to be fully alive are the same ...

  • Give the people a new word and they think they have a new fact.

  • Only the thinking man lives his life, the thoughtless man's life passes him by.

  • There are no evil thoughts except one: the refusal to think.

  • The labor of thinking was so great to me, that having once come to a conclusion upon any subject, I would rather persist in it, right or wrong, than be at the trouble of going over the process again to revise and rectify my judgment.

  • It is unwise to feel too much if we think too little.

  • ... the appetite for thinking must be regulated, as all sensible people know, for it may stifle one's life.

  • Cogito ergo boom.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "'Thinking Against Oneself': Reflections on Cioran," Styles of Radical Will ()
  • Thinking, writing are ultimately questions of stamina.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • "Under the Sign of Saturn," in The New York Review of Books ()
  • One man thinks before he acts. Another man thinks after he acts. Each is of the opinon that the other thinks too much.

    • Susan Sontag,
    • 1964, in David Rieff, ed., As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh ()
  • Presently there was taking place in his mind that undirected, haphazard activity which he was accustomed to describe to himself inaccurately as 'thought.'

  • Your energies have wrought / Stout continents of thought.

    • Marianne Moore,
    • "That Harp You Play So Well," in Harriet Monroe, ed., Poetry ()
  • Mechanical difficulties with language are the outcome of internal difficulties with thought.

  • A thinking woman sleeps with monsters.

    • Adrienne Rich,
    • title essay, Snapshots of a Daughter-in-Law ()
  • She nibbled away at her thought like a rabbit with a piece of lettuce.

  • The most unpardonable sin in society is independence of thought.

  • Someone has said that it requires less mental effort to condemn than to think.

  • How do most people live without any thoughts? There are many people in the world, — you must have noticed them in the street, — how do they live? How do they get strength to put on their clothes in the morning?

    • Emily Dickinson,
    • in Mabel Loomis Todd, ed., The Letters of Emily Dickinson 1845-1886 ()
  • Most people wish to be consoled, confirmed. They want their prejudices reinforced and their structured belief systems validated. After all, it hurts to think, and it's absolute agony to think twice.

  • Strong prejudices in an ill-formed mind are hazardous to government, and when combined with a position of power even more so.

  • One of the frightening things about our time is the number of people who think it is a form of intellectual audacity to be stupid. A whole generation seems to be taking on an easy distrust of thought.

  • Father doesn't think very sudden, but he thinks awful strong.

  • The only man who knows just what he thinks at the present moment is the man who hasn't done any new thinking in the past ten years.

  • ... ultimately, no one can ever be greater than the quality of his or her thinking.

  • It is sometimes better to slip over thoughts and not go to the bottom of them.

  • ... don't be angry with the gentleman for thinking, whatever be the cause, for I assure you he makes no common practice of offending in that way.

  • It is while trying to get everything straight in my head that I get confused.

  • ... the brain works better if the hand works too.

    • Olive Schreiner,
    • 1884, in S.C. Cronwright-Schreiner, ed., The Letters of Olive Schreiner 1876-1920 ()
  • A woman reasons by telegraph, and his [a man's] stage-coach reasoning cannot keep pace with hers.

    • Mary Walker,
    • 1867, in Charles McCool Snyder, Dr. Mary Walker ()
  • I am continually fascinated at the difficulty intelligent people have in distinguishing what is controversial from what is merely offensive.

  • ... he always recognizes two and two when he sees them, but he can't make four of them. And that distresses him, poor fellow.

  • It's the thought that counts.

  • We think because we have words, not the other way around. The more words we have, the better able we are to think conceptually.

  • How I wish I were able to say what I think ...

  • I manage to think twice about everything / Why will they like me as they do / Or not as they do / Why will they praise me as they do / Or praise me not not as they do ...

  • In good company your thoughts run, in solitude your thought is still ... In talk your mind can be stretched, widened, exhilarated to heights, but it cannot be deepened; you have to deepen it yourself.

  • The thoughts and opinions of one human being, if they are sincere, must always have an interest for some other human beings. The world is there to think about; and if we have lived, or are living, with any sort of energy, we must have thought about it, and about ourselves in relation to it — thought 'furiously' often. And it is out of the many 'thinkings' of many folk, strong or weak, dull or far-ranging, that thought itself grows.

  • ... invest everything in chickens and pretty soon you're thinking like a chicken. You know how chickens think? I do, because I raised chickens as a boy. Chickens are always looking for little bits of things in the dirt. They don't conceptualize on a higher plane. You step back from chickens and you start conceptualizing on a higher plane. That's my philosophy.

  • Critical thinking is to a liberal education as faith is to religion. ... the converse was true also — faith is to a liberal education as critical thinking is to religion, irrelevant and even damaging.

  • Her mouth dropped open to let this thought come in and nourish her brain.

  • Though man a thinking being is defined, / Few use the grand prerogative of mind: / How few think justly of the thinking few! / How many never think, who think they do!

    • Jane Taylor,
    • "Prejudice," The Writings of Jane Taylor, vol. 4 ()
  • ... few true statements about a complicated state of affairs can be expressed in a single sentence. … We easily fall into the habit of accepting compressed statements which save us from the trouble of thinking.

  • There is an urgent need to-day for the citizens of a democracy to think well. It is not enough to have freedom of the Press and parliamentary institutions. Our difficulties are due partly to our own stupidity, partly to the exploitation of that stupidity, and partly to our own prejudices and personal desires.

  • The opposite of thinking clearly is being muddled. To be conscious of being muddled is a horrible experience. To avoid it we may even be tempted to shut our minds and swallow a belief, ready-made, from some expert authority.

    • L. Susan Stebbing,
    • "Imagination and Thinking," in Joanna Field, An Experiment in Leisure ()
  • The difference between you and me is that you think to live and I live to think.

  • Clear thought makes clear speech.

  • The power of thought is not only sacred, it is individual, and if the world is to advance, it can only advance through individual right thinking.

  • It is always much easier, I have discovered, to make people cry or gasp than to make them think.

  • The great fault of mankind is that it will not think.

    • Elizabeth Cady Stanton,
    • 1848, in Theodore Stanton and Harriot Stanton Blatch, eds., Elizabeth Cady Stanton As Revealed in Her Letters Diary and Reminiscences, vol. 2 ()
  • The conscious act of thinking about one's thoughts in a different way changes the very brain circuits that do that thinking ...

  • There should be no such thing as 'unthinkable' thoughts.

    • Marian Sherman,
    • in Sylvia Fraser, "What Makes an Atheist Tick?" in Toronto Star Weekly ()
  • On close scrutiny, the beast within us looks suspiciously like a sheep.

  • Think wrongly, if you please, but in all cases think for yourself.

    • Doris Lessing,
    • in Amanda Craig, "Grand Dame of Letters Who's Not Going Quietly," The Times ()
  • Linear thinking is patriarchal.

    • Meridel Le Sueur,
    • in Annie Laurie Gaylor, "Freethinker Meridel Le Sueur," Feminist Connection ()
  • What generally passes for 'thought' among the majority of mankind is the time one takes out to rearrange one's prejudices.

  • The discovery that it is in our power to change our lives by the thoughts we think is the first step toward spiritual mastery.

  • I'm not afraid of facts; I welcome facts but a congeries of facts is not equivalent to an idea. This is the essential fallacy of the so-called scientific mind. People who mistake facts for ideas are incomplete thinkers; they are gossips.

    • Cynthia Ozick,
    • "We Are the Crazy Lady and Other Feisty Feminist Fables," in Ms. ()
  • Oh, what a curse a mind was! If one could only turn it on or off like a wireless set or a gas tap! What heaven to be able to say, 'That's enough thought for tonight.'

  • He was thinking, but she could tell he wasn't good at it.

  • There is thought, and then there is thinking about thoughts, and they don't feel the same.

  • ... making mental connections is our most crucial learning tool, the essence of human intelligence: to forge links; to go beyond the given; to see patterns, relationship, context.

  • No one can think for us any more than another can eat for us.

  • I seem to be thinking practically all of the time. I mean it is my favorite recreation and sometimes I sit for hours and do not seem to do anything but think. So this gentleman said a girl with brains ought to do something else with them besides think.

  • Thought is never free. It is bought in pain, / loneliness. Comfort clothes conformity. / Thought's a dole child, threadbare with fallibility / patched pants braced up with reason's tangled twine ...

    • Maureen Duffy,
    • "For The Freethinker Centenary," Collected Poems ()
  • ... thinking is the hardest work in the world; and most of us will go to great lengths to avoid it.

    • Louise Dudley,
    • "A New Government," in Jean Beaven Abernethy, Meditations for Women ()
  • Mother is afraid that Erika is thinking now, and she expresses her fear. A person who doesn't speak could easily be thinking. Mother demands that Erika reveal her thoughts, rather than let them eat into her. If Erika thinks anything, she has to tell Mother, to keep her informed. Mother is scared of silence.

  • Is there not a way by which the man who can think can be enabled to have time to think?

  • Thinking ... is a soundless dialogue, it is the weaving of patterns, it is a search for meaning. The activity of thought contributes to and shapes all that is specifically human.

  • To have ideas is to gather flowers. To think is to weave them into garlands.

  • 'You look so serious.' The bartender set down her drink in front of her. 'Oh. Just thinking ...' He leaned across the bar and shook his head. 'You don't want to do too much of that.' He began dipping beer glasses in the sink and shaking them out. 'Dangerous. Highly addictive, you know. First you start out with a simple thought or two. Next thing you know, you're having ideas. I see it all the time, in my line of work.'

  • As towards most other things of which we have but little personal experience (foreigners, or socialists, or aristocrats, as the case may be), there is a degree of vague ill-will towards what is called Thinking. ... I am tempted to believe that much of the mischief thus laid at the door of that poor unknown quantity Thinking is really due to its ubiquitous twin-brother Talking.

    • Vernon Lee,
    • "Against Talking," Hortus Vitae ()
  • How deep are our layers of thought, Troy. So deep that the thought of thought is terrifying to most of us.

  • I spend most of my time in my head. You can always work out solutions and satisfactions there. Maybe you can't actually bring them about, but there's usually a pleasant pillow of time between imagining you can, and realizing you cannot.

  • Binary thinking has had its day. As soon as you say 'either/or,' you're a loser.

  • ... sooner or later, if the activity of the mind is restricted anywhere it will cease to function even where it is allowed to be free.

  • To be able to be caught up into the world of thought — that is to be educated.

    • Edith Hamilton,
    • in Richard Thruelsen and John Kobler, eds., Adventures of the Mind, 1st series ()
  • Never be afraid to sit awhile and think.

  • Thoughts are energy, and you can make your world or break your world by your thinking.

  • You're in a horse race but you're thinking like a sheep. Sheep don't win horse races.

  • Thought is the source of all wealth, all success, all achievement. Our dominant thoughts determine our individuality, our career, our daily life.

  • Thought is the lightning of the soul.

  • I disapprove of snobbery in matters of thought as intensely as I approve of it in matters of dress. Good thinking never springs from snobbery — good dressing from little else.

  • The limits of thought are not so much set from outside, by the fullness or poverty of experiences that meet the mind, as from within, by the power of conception, the wealth of formulative notions with which the mind meets experiences. Most new discoveries are suddenly-seen things that were always there.

  • I believe that the subconscious always knows what is best. It is our conditional, vastly overrated rational mind which screws everything up.

  • To follow a wandering mind means having to get lost. Can you stand being lost?

  • All things are to be examined and called into question. There are no limits set to thought.

  • I always say what I think. As a matter of fact, I usually say something before I think.

    • Zsa Zsa Gabor,
    • in Frank Thistle, "The Lunatic Love Life of Zsa Zsa Gabor," Film World