Thinking in Many Dimensions

Your brain is not a computer. Human thinking is multidimensional. It includes reason, emotions, images, memories… the list is endless.

To save ourselves effort, we often tend to shrink this dimensional aspect. It’s way easier to maintain our thinking along a single track.

People get confused about “intelligence”.  Someone who can recall large volumes of information is often called “intelligent”. There are TV game shows built on this idea. But if the information is all of one kind—cultural trivia, mathematical formulae, medical expertise, whatever the case may be—the intelligence involved is quite narrow. It’s like a guitarist who can only play tangos: good in itself, but limiting.

Our minds are at their best when they can move freely. You can imagine two kinds of mental mobility. The first is mobility inside one dimension of thought. This will get you through exams and might win you a lot of money on TV game shows.

The second is mobility between dimensions. Here we have a mind that can jump levels without getting lost, a mind that not only manages lots of information, but slips easily between different kinds of information. 

Questions Can Help

I was once interviewing a well-known economist for a podcast. We were talking about the Federal Reserve and he said: “They get the numbers. They don’t get the psychology.” I was struck by the distinction, not just between one idea and another, but between different kinds of idea.

A problem with much financial thinking, especially on Wall Street, is that it’s one-dimensional. It reduces money to a spreadsheet. But money itself is multidimensional. It involves people’s labor and dreams, massive currency systems, honesty and crime, and the complex interactions of workers, employers, technologies and the environment.

So what does it take to hold all this in mind? How can we include multiple dimensions in our thinking? Sometimes, we have to ask provocative questions. That’s why there’s a feature in Braincat called Dimensional Awareness. It’s a series of questions to set your mind in motion. If you’re a Braincat user, find it in the DISCOVER module.

True Intelligence

A multidimensional thinker will notice feelings as well as reasons. She’ll slip effortlessly from abstract theory to commonsense.  She’ll be equally at home with practical problems and their spiritual implications. 

True intelligence is multidimensional.