Thinking About Thinking Requires Something to Think About

  • this is interesting when compared to the concept that thinking requires some kind of externalization - Situated Cognition - the same way we can externalize our thinking to some medium (like Thinking by Writing), we have to have a substrate to think about, to notice the patterns of thinking itself
  • one realisation of this is Metacognition when Debugging - thinking about the possible problem in an algorithm we're trying to debug allow us to think about our thinking process
  • some of these ideas might originate in David Hume (mind doesn't exist without perceptions), and Immanuel Kant (on impossibility of extracting humans from thinking about human knowledge)
  • this might be an instance of a more general problem, as a similar thing happens with "Future Of Coding" - you can't improve coding, without improving coding for something:

    You can't just improve coding. You need a broader mission. Everyone who's improved coding, Papert, McArthy, Alan, has done it with a broader goal in mind, and the technology fell out of that.

    Steve Krouse about his conversation with Bret Victor

You can't think about thinking without thinking about thinking about something

— Seymour Papert

Seymour Papert used to say "You can't think about thinking without thinking about thinking about something". In other words, it will really help to have important issues and ideas, and things to learn about that require much better thinking. Then, the many things that are known about thinking, how poorly we are generally at it, and what we've learned about doing it better, can be brought to bear.

How can one become a better thinker? - Alan Kay

you can't think about tools for thought without thinking about thinking and thinking about who gets to think about thinking

— May-Li Khoe - https://twitter.com/mayli/status/1387856536832147457

I don't think you can start with "text" or "programming" and get very far. I think it's always better to have something important and big you want to do better with - eventually this provides clues to various kinds of media (including "languages") that need to be invented to help. This is what people miss. McCarthy wasn't trying to invent Lisp, he was trying to create ways to make an "Advice Taker". Doug wasn't trying to do hypertext, he was trying to synergize human effort for good.

— Alan Kay

Szymon Kaliski © 2022
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