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 and handle 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 calculations, medical expertise, whatever the case may be—the intelligence involved is quite limited. It’s like a guitarist who can only play country & western.

Our thinking is at its best when it’s flexible and agile. 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. 

Expanding the Dimensions

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 piece of information and another, but between different kinds of information.

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 the labor and dreams of individuals, the workings of massive currency systems, and the relationships between workers, employers, technologies and the environment. Much more mental effort is demanded to hold all this mind.

What does it take to include multiple aspects in our thinking? Sometimes, we have to wake up those hidden pathways by asking the provocative questions. That’s why there’s a question set in Braincat’s Discover Mode called Dimensional Awareness.

A multidimensional thinker will notice “the feeling of the thought” in the midst of a strictly rational analysis. She will slip effortlessly from abstract theory to commonsense.  She will be equally at home with practical problems and their spiritual implications. 

True mental mobility includes dimensional mobility.