articles…when we are trying to find out what is most important to us.

The following is from Discovering the Spirit: A source of freedom by Joseph J. McMahon, published by Sheed & Ward.

In our search for personal wholeness we become aware of the different kinds of thinking that guide our judgments and decisions. The following exercise will help you to identify three different ways of thinking that we usually use simultaneously when working out a problem. However, one way generally highlights what is most important to us.

The following questionnaire is an exercise that will help you become aware of the types of thinking we do about personal and social issues.

Choose the response (a, b or c) that makes the most sense to you.
1. Belief in God depends on
a. logical proof
b. the rewards that one receives from believing
c. personal insights and not rewards


2. A person is a good friend when he/she
a. is consistent and reliable
b. gives me a good feeling when I am around him/her
c. understands me as me


3. A good social group to join is one
a. with stated goals and rules
b. whose members do the same activities that I like
c. whose values are similar to mind


4. Happiness is when
a. a person's desire for order and control is satisfied
b. a person's desire for comfort and convenience is satisfied
c. a person's desire to know the meaning of life is satisfied


5. Social progress is advanced most by
a. mathematics and law
b. the natural and social sciences
c. religion and philosophy


6. Life after death is
a. a true statement because life might conceivably be more than matter
b. an untrue statement because there is no physical evidence proving it
c. a meaningful statement otherwise life now is absurd


7. Sex is primarily
a. an activity for procreation
b. an activity for pleasure
c. an activity for the expression of love


8. The best philosophy of life is
a. one which helps you live a consistent and orderly life
b. one which helps you to avoid pain and increase pleasure
c. one which symbolizes the meaning of your life


9. The best career is
a. one which advances your learning
b. one which gives you many material rewards
c. one which allows you to be creative


10. A good marriage is
a. one in which the partners live according to a mutually agreed upon contract
b. one in which both partners experience a maximum amount of pleasure
c. one in which the partners contribute to each other's growth


Count your responses for: a. ____ b. ____ c. ____

A high score for:

(a) means that you tend to think rationally about these issues.

(b) means that you tend to think empirically about these issues.

(c) means that you tend to think intuitively about these issues.

The following definitions based on Joseph Royce's theory about our psycho-epistemological profile describe the three basic types of thinking that we use when we are solving problems.

  • Rational (a beaver characteristic): When logical consistency is the judge of whether our thoughts and experiences or the statements made by other people are true, then we are thinking rationally. For example, some people do not believe in the existence of God because the idea of an all good and merciful Creator is inconsistent with a world spoiled by evil.

  • Empirical (a beaver characteristic): When our sensations and perceptions are the judges of whether our ideas are true or false, then we thinking empirically. For example, we knew that our mother's statement, "The oven is hot. Don't touch it." Was true after we touched it. We know that the rose has a pleasant fragrance after we test its scent. When we transfer this type of thinking to more complex experiences such as love, we expect certain sensations and an overall good feeling that verify the statements, "I love you. And I know that you love me".

  • Intuitive (an eagle characteristic): When our symbolic representations of reality lead us to universal insights, then we are thinking intuitively. For example, we may think of love in terms of a musical composition that expresses deep feelings of joy, sadness, excitement, disappointment, hope, and a host of other emotions. Beyond all our personal feelings we see Love that inspires us.

Our intuitive way of thinking connects us to our ideals. In moments of conscience when we are caught up in a dilemma our intuition focuses on our ultimate values. Then, using our beaver characteristics of rational and empirical thinking that attend to planning and consequences, we translate our ideals into practical strategies.