What branch of philosophy or what philosopher(s) study the classification of different types and processes of thinking (thought)?

Mortimer J. Adler in his 1972 book "How to read a book" defines 3 types of so-called analytical reading:

  1. Structural - when reader divides the text hierarchically until atomic parts (the propositions) are met;
  2. Interpretive - when reader comprehends the propositions and arguments (set of premises that imply a conclusion)
  3. Critical - when reader checks whether author is illogical, uninformed, misinformed or incomplete, and based on that agrees, disagrees or suspends judgement.

Now i thought that this quite reflects how the process of thinking works inside our brains: you structure, interpret and criticize the incoming information - and this is analytic (or systemic) thinking. However my classification is not rigorous and may not be true, so i'm interested, where can i find more systematic and formal articulation. But i don't know, which science deals with that kind of problem.

Formal logic isn't relevant, because it deals with specific mathematically rigorous reasoning process. Semiotics is a study of signs and while tangentially useful, does not deal with the process of thought either. Linguistics deals with language, and i'm interested in how semantics is extracted from the language, and how this action is formulated philosophically. Cognitive sciences deal with the exact material processes. So i thought my question should be in a field of philosophy of mind or epistemology.

Please advise on how to improve this question, if you find faults in it.

  • "Noology" might be one way to say this; certainly as you say it's effectively an epistemological problem.
    – Joseph Weissman
    Commented Oct 31, 2012 at 21:13
  • 1
    How about "hermeneutics"? It sounds to me like Gadamer's Truth and Method is what you are looking for. Commented Nov 1, 2012 at 8:25

1 Answer 1


First, the fields you listed are not all mutually exclusive, so I don't think you would come to a result by ruling something out.

Secondly, I think that your claim that "cognitive sciences deal with the exact material processes" is incorrect. Cognitive sciences are not (restricted to) neuroscience.

I would submit that cognitive psychology is really the field of research you are looking for.

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