While searching for something else I chanced upon “The Four Elements of Thinking: Reasoning, Creativity, Synthesis, Evaluation” by Benjamin Cheung, Ph.D., published in 2019. Any book about the four classical elements being used as metaphors for other things is of personal interest, plus that the things being four aspects of thinking was immediately intriguing. Dr. Cheung divides thinking into the four aspects of the subtitle, plus he divides each aspect into four sub-aspects or skills as follows:
- Reasoning (Earth Thinking)
- Inductive Reasoning
- Deductive Reasoning
- Abductive Reasoning
- Creativity (Air Thinking)
- Synthesis (Water Thinking)
- Evaluation (Fire Thinking)
- Contingency Plans
Note his choice in assignment of the Classical Four Elements to each of these aspects of thinking. I would have assigned them differently: Reasoning to Fire, Creativity to Earth, Synthesis to Air, and Evaluation to Water. The price of the e-book is reasonable, so I may investigate the “thinking” behind his alignments by purchasing and reading further.
He also has an interesting book on collections of ideas which he arranges into a “periodic table,” which might be analogous to a more modern scientific elemental assignment. Additionally, he has had Kickstarters on playing or flash cards for both books, which is a notion somewhat dear to my heart (See A Game of Fourfolds).
I have mentioned thinking or thought often in this blog, and believe that poor thinking or irrational thinking is greatly to blame for many of our current ills. Blame can also be attributed to poor communication skills. The best thinking can be obscured by poor communication. What is the best theory of the linkage between thought and language?
Benjamin Cheung, Ph. D. / The Four Elements of Thinking: Reasoning, Creativity, Synthesis, Evaluation
Link to Amazon
I know what you’re thinking (and not necessarily because I’m wearing a colored hat): this is about six things and not four. But wait, notice how the six thinking styles form three pairs of opposites:
Creative (Green) pairs with Process (Blue)
Positive (Yellow) pairs with Negative (Black)
Facts (White) pairs with Emotion (Read)
Then the three pairs of opposites can be arranged into a tetrahedron, where the opposite edges are the three pairs. A tetrahedron has four vertices and four faces, where each vertex is the opposite of its opposite face.
The vertices are Creative + Positive + Emotion, Creative + Negative + Facts, Process + Positive + Facts, and Process + Negative + Emotion. The faces are Creative + Positive + Facts, Creative + Negative + Emotion, Process + Positive + Emotion, and Process + Negative + Facts.
The first link below lists the same opposites for the Six Hats as I found. And there are also a huge number of links out there devoted to the Six Thinking Hats, so I can’t list or summarize them all, or even a small portion.
Edward de Bono / Six Thinking Hats
… and many more.
Graham Wallas devised a fourfold for stages of creativity:
From the “Art of Thought” description on Amazon:
“The first in time I shall call Preparation, the stage during which the problem was ‘investigated … in all directions’; the second is the stage during which he was not consciously thinking about the problem, which I shall call Incubation; the third, consisting of the appearance of the ‘happy idea’ together with the psychological events which immediately preceded and accompanied that appearance, I shall call Illumination. And I shall add a fourth stage, of Verification …”
The Art of Thought: A Pioneering 1926 Model of the Four Stages of Creativity
Turning ideas into reality: the four stages of creativity
Graham Wallas / The Art of Thought
Albert Rothenberg, Carl R. Husman, eds. / The Creativity Question
These four livelihoods: artist, designer, scientist, and engineer, make a nice fourfold. They are called the “four hats of creativity” by Rich Gold. They are also called the “four winds of making” by computer scientist Richard P. Gabriel.
Some say the artist and scientist are “inward” looking, and the designer and engineer are “outward” looking. Some say the artist and the designer “move minds”, and the scientist and engineer “move matter”. One can observe that the artist sorts the important from the boring, the scientist separates the true from the false, the designer discerns the cool from the uncool, and the engineer divides the good from the bad.
Rich Gold / The Plenitude: creativity, innovation, and making stuff
Images of Artist Scientist Designer Engineer.