Essay Writing - - Finishing the Discussion on Reasoning

Essay Writing - - Finishing the Discussion on Reasoning
In his essay "The Eureka Phenomenon," famous author Isaac Asimov employs a clever twist to his new view thesis---he presents it in stages.
After almost a page of discussion about going to action movies and involuntary breathing, Asimov summarizes what he's been saying with a formal new view thesis statement. He says that it's his feeling that it helps to relax, deliberately, by subjecting your mind to material complicated enough to occupy the voluntary faculty of thought, but superficial enough not to engage the deeper involuntary one, which will allow involuntary thought to bring out what we call "a flash of intuition."

Asimov then tells the Archimedes story to support that new view thesis. Immediately after that three-page story, however, Asimov states a second, broader version of his original new view thesis with the following---

I suspect that very few significant discoveries are made by the pure technique of voluntary thought; I suspect that voluntary thought may possibly prepare the ground (if even that), but that the final touch, the real inspiration, comes when thinking is under involuntary control.

That's Asimov's second stage or main new view thesis statement---he's saying that involuntary thought, with its flashes of intuition and insight, happens a lot in the broad field of science, not just every once in a while in ordinary, everyday life; and that it happens not just every once in a while in science, either, but "often" in science.
Let's look at each stage separately, breaking down the first new view into a short series of causes and effects:

CAUSE: deliberately relaxing the mind allows one to engage

EFFECT: automatic, involuntary thought

CAUSE: automatic, involuntary thought provides

EFFECT: a flash of intuition, of insight, of understanding how to solve a problem or what to do next

...................(this is the reverse of the unstated but commonly accepted old view that hard, stick-to-it, disciplined, worked-at thinking is what effective thinking is all about)

Now let's see how good a job Asimov does of fulfilling the rules of cause and effect to support this first stage of his new view thesis:

Sequence---first, no results with hard, worked-at thinking

.......................("stymied" whenever he wrote himself "into a hole")

.......................after seeing an action movie that relaxes his mind, he gets answers to problems

.......................("I knew exactly what... to do," what to write)

Present---when relaxed thinking is present, answers are always present

..................("It never failed.")

Absent---when relaxed thinking is absent, answers are always absent

.................(without seeing an action movie, "in utter panic" over flaw in dissertation)

That shows reasoning working well for the first stage of the new view thesis.

For the second stage of the new view thesis, let's look at the causes and effects:

CAUSE: in science, relaxed, involuntary thinking brings

EFFECT: the "flash of deep insight...the real inspiration" that makes scientific breakthroughs

..................(the reverse of the old view about how scientists work only with experiments and rigid, disciplined, meticulous, 'scientific' reasoning)

CAUSE: such insightful breakthroughs occurred many times in history

EFFECT: (speculation) so they must have happened often in science

From frequently occurring factual evidences, Asimov speculates that insightful breakthroughs must have happened often in science, but they simply weren't recorded. Seems likely, doesn't it?

And here's how Asimov uses the rules of cause and effect to support his second stage new view in his Kekule story and two other almost-story examples:

Sequence---first, no solutions or results with scientific thinking

.......................(Kekule is frustrated w/years of searching & no solution)

.......................(Watts: "Thought didn't help...")

.......................(Loewi: was puzzled and not making progress; went to sleep)

.......................after relaxing technique, get answers to science problems

.......................(Kekule sleeps, dreams, & gets benzene ring solution)

.......................(Watts: "...peaceful walk did [help his thinking]")

.......................(Loewi: "woke...with a perfectly clear notion")

Present---when relaxed thinking is present, answers are always present

...................(Kekule: relaxed dream of "atoms...forming a ring")

...................(Watts: "Thought didn't help; but a...peaceful walk did")

...................(Loewi: "woke...with a perfectly clear notion")

Absent---when relaxed thinking is absent, answers are always absent

.................(Kekule: "Nothing came to him!")

.................(Watts: "Thought didn't help...")

.................(Loewi: was puzzled, not making progress with usual methods)

Asimov successfully uses the story of Kekule, the chemist, and four examples of almost-stories---Watson, Watt, Hamilton, Loewi---to fulfill the Present and Absent rules of cause and effect. Through the first story and the other examples of almost-stories, he supports his second new view thesis of relaxed, involuntary thinking being used often by scientists to make scientific breakthroughs.

Now let's take a look at how Carl Sagan supports the reasoning in his essay, "The Abstraction of Beasts." The major cause-and-effect relationships in this essay are:

CAUSE: chimps are taught and use Ameslan

EFFECT: chimps do abstract and are intelligent, much like humans

..................(this reverses the old view that "beasts abstract not")

CAUSE: chimps are intelligent & like humans in many ways

EFFECT: chimps deserve to be treated humanely, just like humans

..................(this follows from chimps being so much like humans)

CAUSE: (speculates) if chimps could or were able to continue in using the Ameslan or other sign languages for thousands of years, as humans have done

EFFECT: (speculates) chimps would probably become even more like humans in showing the same high mental functions that humans have

Given the information Sagan has supplied, those speculative second and third effects (or conclusions) don't seem all that farfetched, though I'd like a bit more information before I commit to agreeing fully with them. What do you think?

Finally, let's see how well Sagan uses the rules of cause and effect to support his new view:

Sequence---first, no abstractions observed being made by chimps

.......................(with 3 years training, chimp could say only 3 words)

.......................afterAmeslan training, abstractions observed often in chimps

.......................(remarkably inventive," making new words/phrases)

Present---when Ameslan is present, abstractions are always present

..................(Examples: You green shit; Funny, funny; Lucy tickle Roger; chimpanzees and other

..................non-human primates are being taught other gestural languages, as well as a computer language

..................called Yerkish, so abstractions and reasoning are continuing with chimps and other primates)

Absent---when Ameslan is absent, abstractions are always absent

.................(no abstractions observed with chimps before the Gardners taught Ameslan to them)

When used improperly in essays, these tools for ensuring solid reasoning can hinder rather than help. Students should first make sure they've got a new view thesis, then write out their whole essay non-stop, and then revise and rewrite using these tools and rules.

Like the very famous author, James Michener, we may all admit that we are the world's worst writers, but we can lay valid claim, as he did, to being among the world's best re-writers as we master these writing tools for ensuring valid reasoning in our writing.

Essay Writing - - Finishing the Discussion on Reasoning 8.2 of 10 on the basis of 2952 Review.