Abductive Thinking

You might think that people are very rational beings. For example, we can be quite logical. We have developed something called ‘deductive logic’ which is the basis for all logic and argumentation. This is an example of deductive logic:

I like anything with chocolate.

Brownies have chocolate.

Therefore, I like brownies.

To this we also have inductive logic, which allows us to classify things. For example, “All creatures, who have feathers and lay eggs, are birds.”  This is how we can tell the difference between a bird, bat and bee. It is this type of classification that allows us to understand biology and evolution. But we are not always so logical. With abductive thinking, we create connections which do not necessarily exist. This is not always a bad thing, because without abductive logic, we would not have metaphors and similes, things which make our communication so interesting and expressive. However, this kind of thinking can lead to some real problems. Let’s look at that last example again through abductive thinking:

Birds fly.

Bats fly.

Therefore, bats are birds.

Of course, we know that birds and bats are different creatures, but abductive thinking makes them the same. Despite this, we can use abductive thinking to our advantage to help us solve difficult problems that seem impossible to solve. You can do this by concentrating on that problem, say procrastination, and identifying it with a physical location, say one step to your side. Then, step out of this position, into the Meta position. After that, think of something that you really like, something that you really identify with and identifies you as a person, say music. 

Now take a step into this position, your ‘resrouce’ location. By taking this step, you associate music with your resource location, and it is from this resource location you move away from the problem of procrastination. You do this by combining the two locations, “My procrastination is making me play bad music.”  Of course, you do not have to actually play an instrument, but this will help you identify the need to fix this problem. 

Next, think of a way you can solve this problem while in the resource location, “If I start practicing, I will play better music.”  Now what you do is step back into the Meta position, and think about how you can turn this metaphorical answer into a real one. Maybe ‘practice’ is a project you have to work on, so you get started on that project so you can ‘play better music’.