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  1. #1

    Default What does it mean to "finish" a thought?

    I always found that phrase confusing.

    What does it mean?

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  2. #2
    Senior Member wildcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    I always found that phrase confusing.

    What does it mean?
    Torpescence.

  3. #3
    no clinkz 'til brooklyn Nocapszy's Avatar
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    It means you're dead.
    we fukin won boys

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    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    I always found that phrase confusing.

    What does it mean?
    I think it means that you've made all the associations and understood/processed everything you think is necessary to deal with the situation.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    I always found that phrase confusing.

    What does it mean?
    When I have heard that expression used in conversation, it's usually a request for more information or context--a request for clarification. For example, a speaker makes a comment but the comment isn't clear or it doesn't seem connected to what went before or the intent behind the comment isn't clear. So a listener might ask the speaker to "finish his thought"; it's a polite way of saying, "Give me more context on that," or "What's your point?" or "How does that relate to what I said?" or "Where are you going with that?"

    Alternatively I might say something to someone, and the listener appears to have misunderstood my point, and so I might interject, "Wait, let me finish my thought!" And then I clarify my previous point by explaining my thinking behind it in more detail.

    In this context, "to finish a thought" really means "to finish expressing a thought" or "provide clarification on a previous (expressed) thought by providing additional context."

    Introverts will likely hear requests for clarification more often than extraverts. Introverts may pursue an entire train of thought internally but only vocalize a fragment of it, thinking the rest is self-explanatory or simply forgetting that their listener isn't in their head with them and isn't privy to their thought process. So the person listening to them may ask them to "finish their thought" and provide more of the train of thought that led up to the comment or explain the intent behind the comment.

    [Edit:]

    A related expression is "hold that thought," as in "Could you hold that thought? I have a call coming in." (I've also heard people say, "Could you finish that thought later? I have a call coming in.")

    In each instance, "thought" is really just a condensed or oblique way of saying "the process of expressing a thought," i.e., talking or expressing an idea aloud.

  6. #6

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    The questions really came out of the choice of words.

    Why "finish"? Why not just "elaborate" or "clarify" (far fewer people seem to use those phrases)?

    So as a follow on question...

    When is a thought "finished"?

    Especially if the thought is not clearly connected to a "situation".

    Accept the past. Live for the present. Look forward to the future.
    Robot Fusion
    "As our island of knowledge grows, so does the shore of our ignorance." John Wheeler
    "[A] scientist looking at nonscientific problems is just as dumb as the next guy." Richard Feynman
    "[P]etabytes of [] data is not the same thing as understanding emergent mechanisms and structures." Jim Crutchfield

  7. #7
    Lallygag Moderator Geoff's Avatar
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    Perhaps it's just an example of MBTI culture clashes.

    Your average NP doesn't finish thoughts.. he just gets bored and moves on to other thoughts.

    Your average SJ wants to see the point, purpose or application to a thought. So it needs to be finished to be functional.

    -Geoff

  8. #8
    Oberon
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    This phrase works for me at two levels. At its most basic, a finished thought is any idea that can be expressed in a properly constructed sentence. This is the reverse of the usual thinking, which is to measure a sentence by the degree to which it states a coherent thought; but I find that it works as a rule of thumb. If you can state an idea clearly in a sentence, it is a finished thought in the most basic sense.

    The second and rather more complex sense of a "finished thought" is any set of properly constructed propositions and consequences that make up a valid syllogism. In this sense, the "finished thought" consists of one or more ideas and their logical consequences, in a tidy bundle.

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    Protocol Droid Athenian200's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by oberon View Post
    This phrase works for me at two levels. At its most basic, a finished thought is any idea that can be expressed in a properly constructed sentence. This is the reverse of the usual thinking, which is to measure a sentence by the degree to which it states a coherent thought; but I find that it works as a rule of thumb. If you can state an idea clearly in a sentence, it is a finished thought in the most basic sense.

    The second and rather more complex sense of a "finished thought" is any set of properly constructed propositions and consequences that make up a valid syllogism. In this sense, the "finished thought" consists of one or more ideas and their logical consequences, in a tidy bundle.
    That's pretty good, actually. That conveys the idea of a finished thought pretty well. That could also be why quotes are so popular... even though they are so short, they evoke similar lines of thinking in most people. Interesting.

  10. #10
    Oberon
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    I should have realized that syllogism would appeal to the Athenian... but thank you.

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