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Odin’s companions

Odin had two ravens, Hugin & Munin, Thought and Memory, that he could send out to do his bidding. Ravens are pretty much like each others, right? So let’s say that you want to count 2 plus 2 together. You get four. Do you remember that 2+2 =4 or do you think through to the answer? How about in the case of a more complex calculation, say, 16 times 12? When you go through the calculation, maybe multiplying 16 first with 10 and then with two and the adding the sums up, as I would do, are you remembering or thinking? How would you know the difference?

I think (or do I remember?) that this has something to do with what David Bohm notes in his On Dialogue: thought is active, productive, like perception, but it presents us mostly with the end result, not with the process. Thought gives us the created, not the creation. Much like memory, one could add. Both can give us something only by leaving something out, by actively participating in the world, flying out, and reporting back. And they are good at telling about what they saw where they were asked to go, not so much about what other stuff they saw and how the route was. Maybe you have to have the capacities of Odin to ask them wisely and call them by their real names.


  1. Matti wrote:

    We have one word in ordinary language, “memory”. But functionally and neurophysiologically there seems to be many different kinds of memories like episodic, semantic, procedural, and what else. Same must hold for “thinking”. It seems plausible that mathematical thought involves both quasi-perception like processes and discursive, conceptual processes.

    Wednesday, September 27, 2006 at 10:34 am | Permalink
  2. Tere wrote:

    Oh, you mean like a flock of ravens?

    Wednesday, September 27, 2006 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

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