Non-linear Thinking LO20692

Bruce Jones (
Wed, 17 Feb 1999 16:29:57 -0600

Replying to LO20686 --

Fellow LOers:

I am not so sure I follow the logic of linear, non-linear thought. I will
attempt in my own way to add a WHY to the thread.

My WHY is this:

With the exception of solving logic problems (math) most thinking, in my
opinion, is done in a concentric or expanding mode. There is a connection
to the central idea of the problem or consideration only through a final
solution at a higher level of awareness. In considering the contents of a
paper on a particular subject I use the subject of the paper as the center.
>From this I derive as many paths as possible to give myself as much
information as is required to fulfill the requirements of the final product.
This is as far as linear thought goes.
After establishing the multiplicity of connections and writing a short
paragraph or two along each initial path I put the problem aside and let
some inner set of pathways take over. Every-once-in-a-while I will revisit
the various paragraphs and revise or add to them as further readings and
thoughts 'pop' into my head. As I do this a new center of thought begins to
appear and I again explore the various paths that this may have. Rarely are
the paths connected...not yet anyway. Depending on the proscribed ending
(deadline) or the inadequacies of my own education or experience this
process may go on for some time. Each time I revisit the various paths,
based on the newer, higher center, I may discard or unite the end products
of the original beginnings and clarify the new position. When finally a
paper is produced it is not anywhere near the original thought that may have
started the process or it is on a level much higher than the one I began
with or expected.
This, to me, seems to describe a series of concentric circles joined only by
a common set of related centers. The indications of a linear, non-linear
(meandering) thought process do not appear to be present. To be linear you
have to go from point to point along a straight line. To be non-linear
(meandering) you go from interesting point to interesting point connected
only by your interests at the time of conception of the new point.

My WHY is:
The thread of this conversation is assuming that there are only two ways to
go from point to point in the thought process. In the physical world this
is of course true. But the mind is not of this physical world in the way it
functions. The mind functions to a great extent in another dimension
removed from conscious reality. WHY can there not be a descriptive method
for that world for problem solving? Even my concentric circles model is
two dimensional. Maybe the thought process is more like a supernova,
expanding in all directions at once, forming new (higher) realties. Then
once these new realties are formed, collapsing back to form a new, brighter
and more energized center to cause a new supernova of thought that again
expands to form an even newer higher level of thought.
Maybe this is what learning is. The building of newer and brighter levels
of core thought producing the material to form newer and brighter levels of
core thought -- IF properly fueled through the education and instructive

Just My two cents.

Bruce W. Jones
Organizational Development Specialist
Northwest Texas Healthcare System
Amarillo, Texas


"Bruce Jones" <>

Learning-org -- Hosted by Rick Karash <> Public Dialog on Learning Organizations -- <>