Here are some questions to consider when contemplating the concept of thinking, whether it be human thought or machines that may or may not be capable of thinking:

  1. What do we mean by thinking?
  2. Do we maybe mean only the higher-order mental processes peculiar to humans as opposed to the simpler processes of animals?
  3. What higher-order mental processes are peculiar to humans, that distinguish humans from animals?
  4. Is thinking by (arbitrary) definition a process that only humans engage in? So that whatever brain or brain-like or mental or mental-like functions animals or machine might engage in, they would by (arbitrary) definition not be thinking per se? Is there a proper term for such non-human thinking-like functions?
  5. How can we tell if someone is thinking?
  6. What is the evidence of thinking?
  7. What are the indicators that thinking is occurring or has occurred?
  8. What technical metrics can be used to measure thinking?
  9. Is language needed to think?
  10. Is mathematics needed to think?
  11. Is logic needed to think?
  12. Is intelligence needed to think?
  13. Is learning needed to think?
  14. Can there be thinking without learning?
  15. Does learning facilitate thinking?
  16. What is needed to think?
  17. Is creativity thinking?
  18. Is imagination thinking?
  19. Is speculation thinking?
  20. Is speculation an important aspect of broad thinking?
  21. Is empathy thinking?
  22. Are emotions thinking?
  23. Do we have an adequate model of the human mind to really discuss thinking intelligently?
  24. How much do we need to know definitively about the human mind to discuss thinking intelligently?
  25. What is the relationship between thinking and intelligence?
  26. Can thinking occur during sleep?
  27. Can dreams involve thinking?
  28. How awake do you need to be to think?
  29. How drowsy can you be and still think?
  30. How drunk or stoned can you be and still think?
  31. Can animals think?
  32. Can all animals think?
  33. Does thinking refer to all mental activities, or only those closely associated with reasoning?
  34. Does thinking require reason?
  35. Can thinking occur without reason?
  36. How much of reason is logic?
  37. Does thinking require consciousness?
  38. Is all consciousness thinking?
  39. Can a person in a coma think?
  40. Do we think all the time?
  41. What occurs between thoughts — is that thinking?
  42. How is thought initiated?
  43. When does a thought end?
  44. Does thinking ever end?
  45. How can one detect and describe the bounds of a single thought?
  46. How much of thought relates strictly to goals and planning for how to achieve those goals?
  47. What is the relationship between thinking and emotions
  48. Is reflection thought?
  49. Is contemplation thought?
  50. Is daydreaming thought?
  51. Is vegetating thought?
  52. Is fantasy thought?
  53. Is humor thought?
  54. Is meditation thought?
  55. Is someone who is stunned and speechless thinking?
  56. Are all mental states and processes thought per se?
  57. Are all changes in mental state thought?
  58. Is intuition thought?
  59. Are intuitive leaps part of thought?
  60. What does a thought look like? How would we know one when we see it?
  61. How does thought relate to language?
  62. Can all aspects of thinking be expressed in language?
  63. What does the process of thinking look like?
  64. How does thinking relate to action, behavior, and speech?
  65. What is the relationship of emotions and feelings to thought?
  66. Does love involve thought?
  67. How can one tell that thought has occurred or is occurring?
  68. Can a machine tell that thought has occurred or is occurring?
  69. Does the Turing Test confirm thought?
  70. Is all thinking intellectual by definition?
  71. Can a black box with only inputs think? Can we tell?
  72. Is free will required for thought?
  73. Is free will evidence of thought?
  74. Is decision required for thought?
  75. Is decision evidence of thought?
  76. How was Descartes able to conclude that he was thinking?
  77. What is the most minimal thought?
  78. Do thoughts have meaning?
  79. How does one ascertain the meaning of a thought?
  80. Can there be meaning without thought?
  81. What is the relationship between thought and memory?
  82. Is the subconscious mind involved with thought?
  83. What is the relationship between the subconscious and thought?
  84. Is thinking a function of the brain or the mind?
  85. Is there an ethics to thinking? Are any thoughts prohibited? Are any thoughts required?
  86. What is the relationship between morality and thought?
  87. Is a sense of right and wrong or good and evil necessary for thought?
  88. Can inanimate objects represent thought?
  89. Can art represent thought?
  90. How accurately can inanimate objects represent thought?
  91. How accurately can art represent thought?
  92. How accurately can language represent thought?
  93. Has language evolved such that all thoughts can be represented?
  94. What thoughts can’t be represented in language?
  95. What thoughts can’t be represented in art?
  96. Are some thoughts more important than others?
  97. Are some thoughts better than others?
  98. What are the prerequisites for thought — what must occur before thought can occur?
  99. Can thought be avoided?
  100. Can thoughts be beautiful?
  101. What is the relationship between thought and belief?
  102. Are beliefs needed for thinking?
  103. Does thought require intention?
  104. Does thought require volition?
  105. To what extent can thoughts be shared?
  106. To what extent can thought be directed?
  107. How does obsession relate to thought?
  108. How does deep thought differ from other thought?
  109. How does a conclusion relate to thought?
  110. How does perception relate to thought?
  111. Can children think?
  112. Can toddlers think?
  113. Can infants think?
  114. Can a fetus think?
  115. Can an embryo think?
  116. At what stage of development does thinking emerge in humans?
  117. How much brain damage can occur before thought can no longer occur?
  118. What is the relationship between cognition and thinking?
  119. How are thoughts triggered?
  120. Are all thoughts triggered?
  121. Does thought require understanding?
  122. Does understanding require thought?
  123. Does thought lead to understanding?
  124. Does understanding lead to thought?
  125. What is the mechanism of thought?
  126. What control do we have over thoughts?
  127. What is the relationship between insight and thought?
  128. How abstract can thought be — separated from images of real objects?
  129. How important is abstraction to thought?
  130. How abstract can thought be?
  131. How much of thought has a genetic basis?
  132. What is the role of the unconscious in thought?
  133. What is influence of thought on the unconscious?
  134. What is the role of drives in thought?
  135. How does the thought of a genius differ from an average person?
  136. Are there different types of thinking?
  137. Do doctors, lawyers, engineers, scientists, and social workers think very differently?
  138. Is thought an emergent process, not fully determined by the underlying physiology of the brain?
  139. Does thinking require neurons?
  140. Can machines think? See the companion paper Can Machines Think?
  141. Is the full range of function enabled by interconnected neurons adequately comprehended and fully simulated by machines and computer programs?
  142. Is the continuous, non-discrete nature of neurons needed and fully supported in machines and computer programs attempting to think?
  143. How much of thinking involves only higher-order capacities for logic and reason, as opposed to responses to lower-order, more primitive, animal-like tendencies?
  144. To what extent does thinking require or is aided by causality, or can thinking proceed without causality.
  145. Is a sense of self necessary for thinking?
  146. Does thinking require a sense of agency?
  147. Does thinking require autonomy?
  148. Is a sense of time needed for thinking?
  149. Is a sense of connectedness to others needed to think?
  150. Is a sense of self-regulation needed to think?
  151. Is a sense of motivation needed to think?
  152. Is a sense of volition needed to think?
  153. Is a sense of purpose needed to think?
  154. Is a sense of goals needed to think?
  155. Why think at all?
  156. What drives thinking?
  157. What makes thinking desirable?
  158. Are the five senses needed for thought?
  159. What does it mean to think about beauty?
  160. Would thinking be possible without electrons?
  161. How much of thinking is chemical versus electrical?
  162. How much can an individual think about at a given moment?
  163. How much can an individual think about in a short period of time, such as a minute or hour?
  164. Is there anything that can’t be thought about?
  165. Is there anything that can’t be understood?
  166. Are there any thoughts that can’t be expressed or understood by others?
  167. What thinking if any is occurring while speaking?
  168. What thinking if any is occurring while listening to someone else speak?
  169. What thinking if any is occurring while reading?
  170. What thinking if any is occurring while watching a movie, play, or TV show?
  171. What thinking if any is occurring while looking at a natural scene?
  172. What thinking if any is occurring while eating?
  173. What thinking if any is occurring while having sex?
  174. Is thinking pleasurable or painful?
  175. What controls how one feels while thinking?
  176. Does thinking occur while experiencing extreme pain?
  177. Does desire constitute thought?
  178. Can thinking occur without feeling?
  179. What thinking if any is occurring when engaging in a knee-jerk reaction?
  180. Does thinking require or imply interests?
  181. Does thinking require focus?
  182. How does contemplation of consequences fit into thinking?
  183. What would Siri, Alexa, and Cortana say about thinking?
  184. Do Siri, Alexa, and Cortana think?
  185. How much of thinking is driven or guided by survival?
  186. How much of thinking is driven by the needs of daily life — water, food, shelter, education, work, reproduction and rearing of children, and attending to family matters? What’s left to think about?
  187. Are heuristics really thinking?
  188. Can most practical thinking occur without the need for heuristics?
  189. Is being adaptive a requirement for thinking?
  190. Is being responsive to unexpected feedback from the environment a requirement for thinking?
  191. Are symbols required for thinking?
  192. Do symbols aid thinking?
  193. How do philosophers think about thinking?
  194. Is a personality required to provide context for thinking?
  195. How does personality influence thinking?
  196. How does soul influence thinking?
  197. How does ego influence thinking?
  198. Is being able to explain a thought necessary for thinking?
  199. Is perception of sensory data a requirement for thinking?
  200. Is the ability to perceive and cope with illusions a requirement for thinking?
  201. Is a sense of humor needed for thinking?
  202. Is a sense of perspective needed for thinking?
  203. Can physics help us understand the nature of thinking?
  204. Can chemistry help us understand the nature of thinking?
  205. Can biology help us understand the nature of thinking?
  206. Can psychology help us understand the nature of thinking?
  207. Can cognitive science help us understand the nature of thinking?
  208. Can neuroscience help us understand the nature of thinking?
  209. Can computer science help us understand the nature of thinking?
  210. What sciences can inform our knowledge of thinking?
  211. Is wisdom needed for thinking?
  212. How does wisdom influence thinking?
  213. How do optimism and pessimism influence thinking?
  214. How does skepticism influence thinking?

For more of my writings on artificial intelligence, see List of My Artificial Intelligence (AI) Papers.

Freelance Consultant