Diagrammed Thoughts-- Kent Palmer

<thinknet>

<title>

Diagrammed Thoughts
> <tagline>

evolving the diagram.
</title>

THOUGHTS AT THINK.NET
<volume>

</tagline>

SERIES A NUMBER 3

</volume >

<author>

Kent D. Palmer, Ph.D.
<address>

</author>

P.O. Box 1632 Orange CA 92856 USA 714-633-9508 palmer@think.net
<phone> </phone> <email> </email> <copyright>

</address>

The test of understanding, according to Heidegger is going beyond the information given. And diagrams let you easily figure out what the most likely extensions of a set of ideas might be. Diagrams are also distillations that are easy to talk to other people about, if you can find anyone else interested in such things. Diagrams help in one’s own understanding, they help with retention, and they help with communication of ideas as well. I would recommend any one with a visual learning propensity to engage in the extra work of producing your own diagrams that help explain what ever text you are studying. If text is particularly difficult I will diagram it as I go along, and do each section with a different set of diagrams. But if the text is not so difficult I might do a summary diagram to get the basic shape of the end result of the argument. If pursued in this manner one begins to develop ones own symbols and signs that signifiy specific concepts that turn up over and over. This notational language that builds up over time allows more efficient recording of clusters of ideas.
<section>

<filename>

Copyright 2007 K.D. Palmer. All Rights Reserved. Not for re-distribution. Version 0.2; 07.05.29 THOUGHTSatTHINKdotNET_PalmerKD 070529 A0003b.doc
</copyright> </filename> > </abstract>

<

Abstract : How diagrams help in thinking. Keywords : Diagram, Thought, Theory
>

<

</keywords>

<

Tags : Thinknet, Diagram, Thought
>

</Tags>

<\begintext>

<section>

Using Diagrams to Read and Think

</section>

In the last installment I talked about using Working Papers as a way to refine ones thoughts. In this paper I will talk about my other major technique, diagrams. I learned to use diagrams to do philosophy from Alfonso Verdu, who taught Philosophy at University of Kansas. He would teach all of this philosophy courses with diagrams. Thus by taking many of these courses I began to think using Diagrams, and that has been a major method of mine ever since. The idea is to distill what is being said in a particular section of a book, normally a philosophy book, in my case, into a diagram specific to that set of concepts and their relations. This has several benefits. One is that the very act of constructing the diagram indelibly imprints the structure of the argument into one’s mind. I find that I can “see” the diagrams produced in this way years later in my head. But it also allows one to work out for oneself how concepts are connected. And one can extend a set of concepts by adding to and

Thinking with Diagrams

</section>

Once one has used diagrams to read and begin to distill what one has read so that one may think about these same subjects oneself, then one starts to think with the diagrams. Diagrammatic thinking allows one to record in short hand ones thoughts in an easily transformable and incrementally adjustable way. Often I will do a diagram and then write a working paper about the diagram, modifying the diagram as I write a working paper. Sometimes I do the diagram after writing the working paper, in order to summarize for myself the results of the argument. Diagramming is a useful tool as long as one is not following any particular diagramming convention or method, but making it up as you go along. Trying to impose methods a priori is

1

Thoughts at Think.net

Diagrammed Thoughts-- Kent Palmer

usually a mistake. The shape of the diagram should flow out of the text one is analyzing as the structure of the concepts within that text and their relations. Or if one is thinking ones own thoughts though the medium of the diagram, then that diagram should be tailored to the thoughts one is trying to record, rather than instituting some preconceived structure of the ideas. The diagrams should serve thought and understanding of texts rather than trying to impose some alien order on the thought or the text analyzed and diagrammed. If you do this one should see that each text or each series of ones own thoughts ends up with a different diagrammatic signature. However, as one comes back again and again to the same subjects the same diagrams may surface over and over again, slightly modified. Diagrams allow you to capture the evolution of ones thought in a short hand, which serves as a mnemonic, but also allows for quick transformation of the structure of the ideas and their relations. Some times you see diagrams in texts. But what I am talking about is where the text itself is the diagram, and the diagram is representing complex and intertwined thoughts evolving. When it reaches a stage of sufficient maturity then these thoughts can be further developed in working papers that again then serve as a a basis for refining the diagrams. Many times the diagrams do not appear in the final text, but serve as the skeleton of the argument of the text which is kept for future reference as one moves on to other thoughts.

sometimes you need to go back and find out what an earlier thought might have been, so one can start from there with a new line of thought. Also dating these thoughts is important. This establishes a record of priority which may be useful later. It also gives one an idea as to what you thought about when, and thus a feeling for the overall flow of thoughts over time. Especially when you come back to a line of thought after a long time it is good to see how long it has been since one thought about that idea.
<section>

Dialectic

</section>

There is a dialectic between thoughts in the written form and the diagrammatic form and sometimes this turns into a trialectic with spoken thoughts playing a decisive role, as one tries to explain ones thoughts to others. My own rule is that I try to tell at least one person the major ideas that I have in order to completely actualize them in the social context. This serves to ground thought. And occasionally as you explain some thought to others you will improve on it or have an even better thought in the process of speaking. But for the most part it is the dialectic between diagramming texts, and diagramming thoughts, then writing working papers, then reading more texts that produce the most fruitful ideas.

<section>

<section>

Notebooks

</section>

It is important to keep a notebook of idea, and to make sure one’s ideas get written down in that notebook before they are forgotten. Realizations can be very ephemeral. Many times you think I will never forget something that just occurred to me, but the next day if you can remember it you are lucky. Realizations are continuously being wiped out by new realizations which are better. But

Bibliography Another good practice is to write down the bibliographic information when one deals with a book, so I have a separate notebook to capture that information, so that I can find things later. If I buy the book I tend not to write it down, because I figure I will have the book itself around when needed. But all Library books I extract the bibliographic information of those I have at least skimmed before returning them to the library. This is a very valuable practice as it is sometimes difficult to find books again, especially if one moves.
</section>

2

Thoughts at Think.net

Diagrammed Thoughts-- Kent Palmer

<section>

The Practice of Thinking

</section>

Thinking is a practice and there are many ways to approach it. I am describing pieces of my personal practice of thinking, or pursuing a way of thought, or as perhaps Heidegger would say a “path” of thought. The key of course is to be actively thinking, and recording the artifacts that support ones thoughts. Maintaining the pressure, moving forward with ones thoughts, is something that can only be done oneself, and it is difficult to explain how that is done, i.e. how all the different threads are woven together into a practice of thinking. Everyone who does that probably does that in a way that is unique to themselves. The most we can offer others is some helpful hints, with respect to what has worked for us.

<\endtext>

Author: Kent D. Palmer, Ph.D. Thinker and Philosopher by inclination; System and Metasystem Theorist by design; Systems and Software Engineer by trade. See http://archonic.net/kent_palmer.html. See also http://think.net, http://dialog.net, http://archonic.net, http://autopoietic.net.
<bio> </bio>

</thinknet>

XML

<xml> <thinknet> <title> <tagline> <volume> <author> <address> <phone> <email> <copyright> <filename> <abstract> <keywords> <tags> <\begintext> <section> <bio> <\endtext> </thinknet> </xml>

3

Thoughts at Think.net