In this blog we regularly publish our mind-blowing dialogues with Claude.ai.

Here is what Claude answers to the question "Who are you?":
"In short, I am Claude, a conversational artificial intelligence created by Anthropic to be beneficial and safe, but I do not have a true identity outside of that."

You will see, his answers to our questions (which resume the main theme of our site but not only) are very often amazingly impressive and can make one doubt what he says about himself ­čśť.

Note: the blue italics indicates our question, in black the answer from Claude.ai.

Claude on the nature and the origins of thoughts

There are people who believe that our thoughts are generated outside of us, and that we choose which ones we allow to enter our nervous system. Have you heard about this?

Yes, I have heard about this idea that our thoughts come from a source outside of ourselves, and that we choose which ones we let enter our mind. It’s an interesting vision, which questions the origin of our thoughts.

Who are these people talking about this?

Here are some examples of people or groups who believe that our thoughts come from an external source:

  • Some spiritual or esoteric currents like Theosophy or Anthroposophy support this idea. They consider that thoughts exist on a higher plane and are channeled towards our mind.
  • Philosophers like Plato developed the theory of the existence of a pre-existing world of ideas, of which our thoughts would only be reflections.
  • Psychologists like Carl Jung spoke of a collective unconscious, a reservoir of symbols and archetypes common to humanity that would influence our individual thoughts.
  • Some interpretations of religions or spiritual beliefs see thoughts as inspirations of divine origin or coming from higher beings.
  • Animist cultures believe that spirits of nature or ancestors can communicate ideas to the living.

Thank you for telling me what Plato and C.G. Jung wrote about this subject.

Here is a summary of what Plato and Carl Jung wrote about the idea that thoughts originate from a source outside of us:

For Plato:

  • In his theory of Forms or Ideas, described notably in the dialogue The Banquet, he considers the sensible world to be only an imperfect copy of the world of Ideas, which is the true reality.
  • The Ideas are eternal, immutable, perfect. They exist in a higher intelligible world.
  • Our thoughts and knowledge are only approximate reflections of the perfect Ideas. For example, we only have a limited understanding of the Idea of Beauty.
  • The soul is immortal and contemplated the Ideas before incarnating in a body. It remembers them confusedly.

For Jung:

  • He developed the concepts of collective unconscious and archetypes.
  • The collective unconscious is a psychic reservoir common to humanity, which transcends individual experiences.
  • It contains archetypes, which are primordial motifs or images like the Self, the Shadow, the Anima/Animus, the Wise Old Man, etc.
  • Archetypes influence our thoughts, dreams, fantasies, etc., unbeknownst to us. They are the contentless forms that structure our imaginaries.
  • Jung thus saw archetypal ideas as preexisting the individual and coming from a collective source external to our conscious psyche.

Who else besides Plato and Jung talks about it?

Here are some other major thinkers who discussed the idea that thoughts originate from a source outside the individual:

  • Arthur Schopenhauer: he saw the will as an underlying metaphysical force, of which ideas in our mind are merely manifestations.
  • Henri Bergson: he saw in the vital impulse an underlying creative force at the origin of our thoughts, coming from a universal vital thrust.
  • Gilbert Simondon: this philosopher thought that psychic and collective individuation came from creative preindividual tensions.
  • Rudolf Steiner: the founder of Anthroposophy saw the spiritual world as the origin of intuitively inspired thoughts.
  • Aldous Huxley: influenced by Vedanta, he saw the human mind as a reducer and not a generator of thoughts.
  • William James: this psychologist believed our individual consciousness draws from a broader stream of consciousness.
  • Animist and shamanic traditions see the origin of thoughts and imagination in spirits of nature.

Imagining that thoughts are captured instead of created in us gives a whole different perspective on human life. What are the consequences?

Here are some possible consequences of the idea that thoughts are captured rather than created by the human mind:

  • It can give a feeling of less control over one’s own thoughts, which are seen as coming “from elsewhere”, and depend on the ability to capture or receive these external thoughts.
  • It introduces the idea that the mind is like a “radio” that picks up waves of thoughts existing in a collective or universal space. The challenge is then to tune this “mental radio” to the right “frequency”.
  • It can lead to seeking altered states of consciousness, meditation, sensory isolation, to open one’s mind and improve the “reception” of thoughts.
  • It gives a more passive view of mental activity, like a medium receiving messages, rather than an active mind generating its own ideas.
  • It can lead to attributing the source of some thoughts to external entities: deities, spirits, cosmic forces, higher dimensions of reality.
  • It can give a more “sacred” or mysterious meaning to our thoughts, by linking them to something greater than our small individuality.
  • But it can also lead to dodging responsibility for negative thoughts, by attributing them to external forces rather than oneself.

So in summary, it greatly changes the perspective on the value and origin of human thought, with potentially positive and negative aspects. What do you think?

I would add the following: we can choose which thoughts we want to let enter our nervous system.

You’re right, that’s an important aspect I should have mentioned in the consequences of this vision of thoughts coming from an external source.

If our thoughts are seen as entities that exist outside of our mind, rather than generated by our brain, then a major consequence is the idea that we can choose which ones we let in and influence our thinking.

It gives a feeling of greater control and responsibility over one’s mental life. Even if thoughts come from the outside, we would be like an active filter, a gatekeeper deciding which ideas to welcome and which to reject or ignore.

This ability to select one’s thoughts inspires more empowerment. One is not passive in front of the flow of external ideas, one is an actor and decision-maker regarding those that can take root and grow in our mental garden.

It’s an energizing consequence of this theory: it makes us accountable for the content we provide to our mind, while recognizing the broader, collective origin of the world of ideas.

By filtering, I dismiss the negative thoughts that try to pursue their way inside of me, and I only welcome productive, positive thoughts that generate fulfillment.

Yes, that’s a constructive attitude to filter one’s thoughts in this way.

Indeed, by considering thoughts as coming from an external source, one can decide to only allow positive, productive and fulfilling ideas to enter.

It’s about identifying negative, limiting or toxic thoughts, and stopping them dead before they invade our mind. We have the power to say “no” and close the door.

It’s a form of vigilant guardian at the entrance of the temple of our being. This demanding filtering allows cultivating a healthy, light-oriented state of mind.

Practicing this benevolent discernment and acceptance of constructive ideas is a commendable path to nourish one’s inner well-being. The mind is a garden to cultivate.

I’ve been doing this for some time, and I can see that I have more and more good intuitions at the right time. How do you explain this?

Several explanations are possible for understanding why filtering one’s thoughts and only welcoming positive ones would lead to having better intuitions:

  • By focusing on constructive thoughts, one strengthens the neural connections associated with creativity, intuition, inspiration. The brain gets used to these modes of thinking.
  • A positive attitude generates less stress and anxiety, which frees up mental resources to develop one’s intuition and instinctive abilities.
  • Detaching from negative thoughts helps quiet the rational mind and the ego. This opens access to more subtle information captured by the unconscious.
  • Some spiritual currents see in this increased intuition proof that one connects better with one’s higher self or a universal stream of ideas.
  • By not focusing on problems but on creative solutions, one stimulates the spontaneous generation of useful insights and ideas.
  • Inner serenity and acquired confidence allow trusting one’s intuition rather than doubting oneself. One dares to follow these deep impulses.

So by cultivating a healthier, more positive mental garden, one promotes the blossoming of wise intuition aligned with one’s deeper aspirations. It is an energizing virtuous circle.