In a book on ‘smart thinking’ it is appropriate to include a discussion about ‘What is thinking?’ and ‘What are thoughts?’ You are interested enough in this topic to be reading this Introduction so let us note that the existence of ‘Smart thinking’ implies the existence of other kinds of thinking, some not so smart, and maybe even some thinking that is downright stupid. At one point in the development of the corporate culture of IBM (International Business Machines), the management issued a desk sign to every employee who had a desk. The sign was about nine inches long and about two inches high and was imprinted with just one word: ‘THINK.’ Some IBM employees took this as a reminder; some took it as an instruction; some took it as an order; most everybody took it seriously, and a very few took it as a joke. The company wanted everybody to think. In this corporate objective, IBM was unique among large companies.
The idea that the mind must be constrained, by huge efforts, into the path of thinking would help explain why IBM’s management would spend all that money to put signs on every employee’s desk that urged them to ‘THINK.’ It also suggests that the mind has a tendency to wander rather than to stay thinking on one chosen topic.
Here we are using words like ‘think’ and ‘mind’ in a casual way with the assumption that everyone understands these words and that they mean the same thing to everyone. In fact a great deal of philosophizing has been done on the topics of ‘mind’ and ‘thought’ these words mean very different things to different people. Eskimos have multiple words for snow because it has survival value. Last year’s snow has different properties than freshly fallen snow, and by having different words for different types of snow the children’s attention is directed to those different properties and they grow up making useful distinctions that empower them to live more safely and effectively in their snow-filled environment.
Similarly, we live in a world of thoughts and ideas and many of us make our living with our minds more than with our bodies, so we too can beneit from having some distinctions about different types of thought, different kinds of thinking, including Smart Thinking. And it can be very useful for us to learn about different levels of mind, because the mind is where thought, smart and otherwise, occur.