Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Magical thinking

  1. Mar 10, 2005 #1
    We adults usually think in concrete terms. Would you agree, however, that the majority of our mature abstract thought processes can be related directly to our imagination as a child? How can this association justify the seeming exclusivity of child and adult minds? What magical thinking do you yourself experience nowadays?
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 11, 2005 #2


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    I don't see any association with the thoughts I have now compared to those of the past.

    I really don't know what you are talking about.

    Note: I do realize older people think about their childhood alot. I do too, but not as much, for now anyways.
  4. Mar 11, 2005 #3
    Let me condense my question by asking: do you all find any link between the imaginative ("magical") thinking of childhood and the abstract thinking of adulthood? I believe that many of the qualities of early cognition develop through mid-stage concrete thinking into a mature hybrid, i. e., abstract reasoning.
  5. Mar 11, 2005 #4


    User Avatar

    Staff: Mentor

    I never went through that "imaginitive magical thinking" stage. I've always joked that I was born 53 years old. I always knew the difference between fantasy and reality. I was always very logical and down to earth. A very serious, boring child.
  6. Mar 11, 2005 #5
    I've always had a playful mind, I was the kid who looked for fairies..and made wings to fly off the garage. Actually I reflect back on it when I hear they have found "little people" and that companies will have flights into space for the common man.
    I hope I never stop thinking "magic" thoughts.

    My magical thoughts today involve underground dwellings. Think I'll dig a cave in my backyard.
    PS I have a degree in anthropology..any connection? hmm well maybe :wink:
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2005
  7. Mar 11, 2005 #6
    How does one actually know they have a playful mind?
  8. Mar 11, 2005 #7

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    see this thread: https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=56040

    I am pretty sure that this paper can be found for free online.
  9. Mar 11, 2005 #8
    geez now I'm going to half to go around and pinch my friends to find out whos real and whos not.
  10. Mar 11, 2005 #9
    I think that "Magical Thinking" is the heart of both science and art.
    Math is very magical thinking, within consensus an entire universe of events is distilled into numeric characters, that are as insubstantial as faeries. Reality is suspended to create a different description, or version on paper, or canvas, or in cyberspace. Magical thinking or viewing is stuff that we all indulge in regardless of how much we try to corral or discipline our "inner child", or "inner mystic", or "inner geeky kid".

    I would think that people would be drawn to mathematics to get answers, but in the end after they have practiced maths until they are satisfactorily adept; isn't that when they realize that easy questions have easy answers, and the more interesting and difficult and magical questions, have huge and elusive answers.

    I am drawn to the metaphoric, the real, and the insubstantial, and the insubstantiatable. I only regret that my ability to enchant myself with tasks has grown more limited as I grow older.
  11. Mar 11, 2005 #10

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    In the words of a notable physicist: Most physicists avoid most [real] deep issues. In this sense I agree what what you are saying. There is a tendency to mask mysteries with names. Give something a name and it seems like you know what you mean, when in fact in the deepest sense we may understand very little. I think these are the huge, elusive answers to which you refer.

    Edit: Funny but I just mentioned this. At the heart of this is the difference between our physical models and the essence of what they describe. Presumably as our models grow more sophisticated we gain more insight to the essence of a thing, but we don't know this to be true and we never will. We can only say that our models predict the correct results so far.
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2005
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook