I've stumbled upon a certain axis of cognition recently, the knowledge of which I have been able to exploit to my advantage: cognitive temperature. A bumper sticker definition of (high) cognitive temperature might be the tendency of cognitions to be directed, deliberative, and self-aware; let me expand on this.
- By directed, I mean something slightly more general than goal-oriented. Directed thoughts are thoughts that are going somewhere. So, not just trying to figure out what actions to take to reach a particular goal, but trying to unravel a concept, to critically introspect, to piece together a puzzle, and so on.
- By deliberative, I mean carefully plotting and moving through the relevant space of cognitions (which depends on the nature of the direction: this could be a solution space, an idea space, a design space, etc.).
- By self-aware, I mean that in a state of high cognitive temperature, one is consciously aware of the manner in which they are performing this deliberation, and therefore expresses a tendency to be self-critical of their cognitions, self-modifying in the general plans of attack by which they structure strings of cognitions, and creative in that they are capable of identifying and taking otherwise low-probability lines of thought.
**Like happiness or lucidity, temperature is an axis characterizing the state of your mind at a given time, and along which your mind varies; unlike these two, it is relatively easy to control (at least for short periods of time, and at least for me). It is of course easiest to control when one is aware of it, and it is incredibly useful to be able to control, but it is difficult to maintain for long periods of time for what I believe are essentially thermodynamic reasons.