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Mental Skeleton--A Patterned Tool

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Nothing is more important in my preparation for Critical Thinking than to have Patterned Tools, like a Mental Skeleton. A skeleton (Greek, 'dried-up' body) is a framework preliminary to a more complete treatment; upon which structures can be built or elaborated upon; or off which can be draped attributes. An example of such a Patterned Tool in writing or delivering a speech is: "Tell them what you are going to tell them/Tell them/Then tell them what you told them." When, for whatever reason, the "big picture" of a subject cannot be seen and I have no knowledge of that subject, I cannot get my mind around it because it has no shape. At that point my confusion reminds me of a fond saying I had as a boy: "Ladies and gentlemen, I come before you to stand behind you to tell you something I know nothing about. The discussion will be the 4 corners of a round table." If something does not have a height, depth, length, width, or some other dimension, then Step I is to put some boundaries around it so as to make it manageable and thereby reduce anxiety and self-doubt. Inside that Shape I apply a Pattern that, instead of looking like a "round table," looks like a human skeleton (which, as an orthopaedic surgeon, is quite familiar to me). What is outside that skeleton (like the 4 corners are outside the shape of a round table) I disregard for the moment. In the process of fashioning some Order, many "bones" of the "Mental Skeleton" Concept will be missing; others are out of place or mis-positioned or crumbling from being so weak. Still, enough of an "Idea-Form" is present for me to proceed into understanding the problem--and then things get really interesting.

Step II: In order to enter into this unknown subject, I do so with the attitude of taking control and being in charge of it. To this end, it is essential I know everything anybody else knows--and I go through up to 1000 books to gather information about the keystone word. I concede they will have different points of view and know something I do not. But in the end, their points of view will be no better than mine--and probably not as good or complete or that spans all planes of existence. With this degree of confidence it is highly unlikely they will be able to convince me to adopt their point of view--though I may modify some of their concepts to strengthen my position. The way this comes about is by my thoroughly studying the story of the topic's word. Now that I have published three Afrocentric Word Story Origin Books (covering 7000 words), I seek out African Tradition's definitions for realistic meanings. By contrast, I avoid Europeans' opinions because they are typically incomplete, limited, weak, facades, racially and ethnocentrically biased, in conflict, and/or mostly simply wrong! Of particular interest are "Detour" Concepts occurring in the course of a word's history. All of this gives me increased understanding of the topic which then allows me to arrange the "bones" in better order and begin to add missing ones. Step III: As I learn more from research, refinements are made in the proper relationships of the "Bones" and in other details related to each "bone". Step IV: the subject is put in Order (chronological, alphabetical, most important first, simplest first, etc.).

Step V: To deal with the complex issues or hazy aspects now clear from the subject being in some Order, I return to the "Detour" Concepts present in the keystone word's story. Sometimes they create a path into the unknown. Or, when coupled with further research, allow me to prove or disprove some point. When barriers occur on the path to a conclusion or solution, I assess those "Detour" Concepts by seeing them for what they are and from different angles. Many times my best insights come from noting how the aura coming out of the shape of the "Skeleton" "Feels," for that enables greater and greater discernment concerning things inside, about, and outside the "Skeleton." Interweaving that with intellect and my experiences applicable to the barrier often gives me a creative solution--and that is top of the line excitement for me!

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