Is an all-knowing being still able to think? If yes, then about what?

There is no need to think, it just knows.

3 Answers 3


I think this is a fair question. An all-knowing being cannot think in order to discover, since there is nothing it can discover because it knows everything already. Or more precisely it knows everything that can be known.

But thinking is not limited to discovery or knowledge. What of thinking (a) about what it does not know, because its thinking is not confined to knowledge or (b) because the matter is not one which it is possible to have knowledge about?

It can speculate about the objectively random, say at the quantum level, but not know in advance the behaviour of the obectively random since from the nature of the objectively random what is objectively random is in principle unpredictable and hence cannot be known in advance. It can still speculate, puzzle, guess. (The all-knowing being can only know everything that can be known. This cannot.) That covers (b).

For (a) consider the choice between non-cognitive preferences. This gives it something to think about. But, the objection comes, the all-knowing being can still know which choice it will actually make even though the choice is non-cognitive (e.g. a choice between coffee and strawberry ice-cream). Yet until the non-cognitive choice is made, there is nothing to know : the choice is in the future, and so does not exist, and so cannot be known. We return to the problem in (b).

For a twist, suppose that there are two all-knowing beings. This is on the face of it logically possible. Each knows what the other knows at any given, or any other, time and can think about that : e.g. the logical implications and and logical presuppositions of what the other knows. It may know these implications and presuppositions only implicitly and in a way not immediately present to consciousness and so need to think them through.


You are equalizing thinking and getting knowledge which is not correct.

The all-knowing (omniscient) being is able to think because:

Aside from thinking to get knowledge, one might think just to create. People (especially artists) are thinking in order to create something new. Same might apply for omniscient being and it may think to create new worlds, which are different from already existent ones.

  • I thought about creativity but in the end decided not to include it. But you may well be right. If, as in my answer, the all-knowing being can't predict a future choice since it does not exist and so (I think) it cannot fall within knowledge, the same might be true of acts of creativity. I'm glad you made the point; it should be among the things to consider.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 6:26

An all-knowing being can think. The being doesn't need to think, but can do so if they wish or if they merely want to rethink their knowledge.

For example, I know my wife, but I can still think about her because I like to.

Or, I could also think about why the mean-value theorem is true. I already know why, I've proven it myself, but I can still think about it, can I not? What physical process is stopping me from doing that?

  • I advise you not to be rude with people, even if you feel they are dumbs.
    – rus9384
    Commented Apr 1, 2018 at 22:24
  • @GeoffreyThomas, I meant user32029. Just forgot that second comment always is the reply to the first instead of answer itself.
    – rus9384
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 6:30
  • user32029. Don't know why your answer has been so heavily downvoted. You make the key point that thinking extends beyond knowing. I've done my bit to lift the scales.
    – Geoffrey Thomas
    Commented Apr 2, 2018 at 8:51

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