Thinking: The ability to arrive at results from the
consideration of and choice from alternatives.
computers and very simple animals, and perhaps even plants, may think,
namely if what they do involves some consideration of and choice from
alternatives. Also as stated, this may be clearly quite mechanical, or
explained in mechanical ways, without necessarily or always being
mechanical, or reducible to some kind of primitive recursive function.
Furthermore, there is clearly the possibility to say, also with
considerable etymological justification, that real judgment and real art
are not reducible to rule or rote: Creative thinking involves more than
automatical application of received rules to inert material, just as
sound judgment involves careful discrimination, distinction, and
appraisals of evidence, feelings and interests that again cannot be
reduced to a mere logical application of case law.
And given these clarifications, there seems to be a wide spectrum of
things that may be said to think in some sense, from calculating
machines and computers, to plants, animals and human beings, and
involving all manner of complexity, from the crudest automatic choice by
the simplest rule based on a given condition, to a highly complex
process of combined feeling and thinking and intuition, that
nevertheless may be be necessary for and issue in the proof of a
mathematical theorem or the composition of a symphony.