Train of Thought

Political philosopher Thomas Hobbes popularized the expression ‘train of thought’ in the 1600s when he wrote that: “By Consequence, or train of thoughts, I understand that succession of one thought to another […]  When a man thinketh on anything whatsoever, his next thought after is not altogether so casual as it seems to be. Not every thought to every thought succeeds indifferently”. More than two centuries later, philosopher and psychologist William James streamlined this metaphor by arguing instead for the expression ‘stream of consciousness’: "Consciousness does not appear to itself chopped up in bits. Such words as 'chain' or 'train' do not describe it fitly as it presents itself in the first instance. It is nothing jointed; it flows. A 'river' or a 'stream' are the metaphors by which it is most naturally described.”. As Raskin did many years later, James favored an uninterrupted subjective life that is experienced all at once. Doing away with the conventionality that made thought and causality resemble the frozen-in-time chunks of ink or light we call text, James imagined both as what theorist Marshall McLuhan called an ‘acoustic space’ not determined by the clarity and distinction of visuality.