April 17, 2019
Looking at the title of this essay, you might be curious that it sounds like a familiar expression. Yes, you are right. The title was adapted from the ‘Cogito ergo sum’, meaning “I think, therefore I exist” coined by Rene Descartes, the French philosopher living in the 17th Century. Through that expressions Descartes seemed to mean to emphasize the importance of thinking activities, because awareness, understanding, and knowledge can be obtained only by thinking. For Descartes, only people who think can realize that they exist (exist). Conversely, people who don’t think never realize that they exist. Adaptation in the title of this essay was made by replacing the word Cogito (to think) into Scribo (to write) in order to show the interconnection and synergy of writing and thinking. Both activities are synergistic because writing is essentially one form thinking process and means.
For some people, writing means conveying messages, ideas, or feelings through written symbols. Nothing wrong with this idea, but it oversimplifies the nature of writing. While I was writing down ideas about the essence of scribo that are equivalent to the essence of cogito into this essay, I had to explore, remember, collect, organize, select, connect, and evaluate various information in my mind before it was transformed into written symbols in this essay. All of these activities took place in my mind, and all of them are thinking activities. (I believe it is not a coincidence that all of these activities are in line with Bloom’s taxonomy). That experience of mine revealed that writing is undoubtedly a thinking process. This is supported by Hunt (2010) who stated writing is not just expressing ideas that have previously been in mind. Writing is also a magical and mysterious process that allows the author to construct (make) new or different ideas. He asserted, “… writing is not the transcription of thoughts already consciously present in my mind. Writing is a magical and mysterious process that makes it possible to think differently.
One of my students asked me once “If writing is a means and process of thinking, what about people living in ancient time who did not write and read? Did they never think?” As stated earlier, writing is one (not the only) means and process of thinking. So even though they did not use written language, pre-history humans did think. However, the absence of writing made their thinking processes and abilities very limited. The absence of writing, at least, disallowed them to record their previous thoughts. As a result anytime they study something, they should always start thinking about it from zero. In addition, they could not think abstractly. To think of something, the object must be visible to them. So, if they wanted to think a horse, that animal must be present to them.
The absence of writing, which made prehistorical people thinking ineffective accentuates that writing is essentially a very (and probably) the most effective means or way of thinking. According to Menary (2007), while we are writing, the different parts of our thinking, including neurons involved in the thought process, are integrated with the physical act of writing (drafting, manipulating sentences, editing, etc.) and emerge a new structured thought. Based on the results of a study, Miller (2013) conveyed that because writing and thinking are so closely connected, challenging writing assignments are an ideal way for students to explore deep, serious thought in whatever subject they are studying.
What implications can we draw from the paradigm that writing is thinking? First, writing ability reflects thinking ability, and vice versa. Someone who is used to think systematically, logically and analytically, is automatically able to write in a coherent and easily understood manner. This indicates that a messy and difficult to understand passage must be written by someone who is unable to think systematically and logically. Second, because thinking and writing are skills that are closely interrelated and synergistic, if you develop your writing skills then you also develop your thinking skills, and vice versa. So, the more diligently you practice in order to write well, the better organized your mind will be. And, to relate to the title of this essay, the more productive you write, the more you think. Thus, no one will doubt your existence. You write, therefore you exist!