History behind "Thinking" and "Design" - Design Your Thinking

History behind “Thinking” and “Design”

history behind thinking and designCaveat: This article uses design and thinking interchangeably, treating design as a way of thinking.

Thinking is a fundamental human skill that has its roots way back in time when humans designed the fire. The modern western-thinking, that has a heavy influence on the modern day society, takes root in the middle ages marked by the Renaissance. It was between 400-300BC, when three classical Greek philosophers – Socrates, Plato and Aristotle, gave what the world today uses as the basis of thinking. These three are considered to be the founders of the Western philosophy and thinking.

Socrates was the first classical Greek philosopher and a constructive thinker who undermined conventional ideas, questioned them. He believed in argument and thought that by questioning every wrong idea you would be left with what is the truth. It is from him that the fundamental system of questioning was introduced in the western philosophy and thinking. His idea was that by questioning ideas, one could pick good ones from the bad ones.

Plato was Socrates’ favorite disciple, and the one who gave Socrates’ ideas to the world in writing. All of what the world understands of Socrates is based on Plato’s playwrights and writings. Plato believed in the fact that it was ideas that ruled the world. It was during his period that people who had great ideas were considered higher in the society and the ones who executed on them to be lower in the society. The western system of blue-collar and white-collar, hierarchy of professions are good examples – architects as higher than stone masons is one example of this system-of-thinking. Plato was a fascist.

Aristotle, a disciple of Plato and the teacher of Alexander the Great, was known for his logical ways of reasoning. He introduced the world to think of everything in buckets. The idea that something could either be in one bucket or the other forms the fundamentals of his thinking-philosophy. Modern day thinking uses a lot of Aristotle’s thinking philosophy – our ideas of good or bad, true or false, etc. all are good examples of this kind of thinking.

In summary, its this trio that introduced what we know as the western thinking-systems, based on:

  • argument
  • analysis
  • criticism
  • judgement

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