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DaphneT's avatar

What is a profound thought?

Asked by DaphneT (5635 points ) August 6th, 2012

I’ve read the two previous fluther questions on the topic of “profound”, and I’ve looked up the definition. I still don’t get what constitutes a profound thought. Can a person decide for themselves that a thought is profound? Is it something that observers judge?

inspired by the discussion of the ‘invention’ of longitude by a ‘simple’ carpenter and watchmaker. He had profound thoughts and this enabled him to solve the problem of measuring time at sea. The longitude problem.

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11 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

If it makes you stop and say holy shit where did that come from it’s profound.

Symbeline's avatar

I guess a thought that makes you learn, discover, or realize something.

CWOTUS's avatar

Most of the quotes here attributed to Niels Bohr are pretty profound. That’s not just because he makes quotes about profundity, either. But it doesn’t hurt.

athenasgriffin's avatar

A profound thought, to me, is one that is groundbreaking and unique. It is also somehow integral to whichever subject. It is often times something that really resonates with it’s audience.

Blackberry's avatar

I asked a question similar to this. Correct me if I’m wrong, but are you asking how humans come up with the amazing ideas that have formed our society into what it is now? A profound thought in general is extremely subjective, as a profound thought to someone could be deciding to use a water filter instead of buying bottled water every week.

In the book ‘A Short History of Nearly Everything’, Bill Bryson writes about the adventures of various people in the sciences . I’ll type a small excerpt:

“So for four months in the Summer of 1774, Maskelyne lived in a tent in a remote Scottish glen and spent his days directing a team of surveyors, who took hundreds of measurements from every possible possible position. To find the mass of the mountain from all these numbers required a great deal of tedious calculating, for which a mathematician named Charles Hutton was engaged.

The surveyors had covered a map with scores of figures, each marking an elevation at some point on or around the mountain. It was essentially just a confusing mass of numbers, but Hutton noticed (my own emphasis) that if he used a pencil to connect points of equal height, it all became much more orderly. Indeed, one could instantly get a sense of the overall shape and slope of the mountain. he had invented contour lines.”

From what I’ve read, some discoveries come about by one rich guy with a passion for science and curiosity gathering a team to explore the world. One definitely needs resources, but the curiosity is there in all (or most) of us. Even without the money, people are still curious about everything and want to know more. It’s how we survive. You can’t float along in life not questioning things. As far as I know, it just happens because humans receive stimuli and act according to that stimuli.

If there’s stimuli that is new, mysterious, etc, people will want to explore it.

Nullo's avatar

One that is unprecedented yet functional and epiphanic, preferably one that effectively counters a previously held assumption.
For instance, I realized recently that equal treatment of all religions inevitably favors the religions that are more aligned with your own culture, making them unequal again and making the “Coexist” bumper sticker all the more ridiculous.

DaphneT's avatar

@CWOTUS thanks for the quotes. @Nullo thanks for the new word for me to look up. But who is the Coexist bumper-sticker for? Certainly not someone who’s so grounded in their religion that anything else seems wrong? It’s for announcing to the world-in-view that someone associated with the bumper-sticker is thinking about the implications of co-existence. You can’t be sure it’s the driver or anyone else actually in the vehicle at the time you see the sticker. That would be making an assumption.

@Blackberry that was a great excerpt, thank you for sharing. Profound is one of those words that you think you know until you question its meaning, but some things should be questioned once they’ve been learned. I thought I meant should not, but I’ll go with the previous sentence as drafted, and my tiredness rears it’s ugly head.

rojo's avatar

This is supposedly a profound thought:

Why isn’t the number 11 pronounced onety-one?

Nullo's avatar

@DaphneT I was referring to the bumper sticker itself, which feels like it could only have been made by a person not solidly invested in any religion but who finds the notion romantic and wishes that they could all get along.

ucme's avatar

Does a housefly know when it’s farted & how come it doesn’t explode?

flutherother's avatar

One that is original and insightful and is expressed simply and beautifully.

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