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A list of "things" and how to analyze them

by William McGaughey


Some rules & guidelines:

1. If the thing exists physically, being comprised of atoms and molecules, it is associated with matter.

2. If the thing might have existed if there were no life, it is not life. To be associated with life, the physical substance must be extracted from a living creature, either dead or alive.

3. If the thing might have existed without conscious human activity, it is not thought. Things associated with thought include manufactured objects and also animals that were domesticated or developed through selective breeding which takes thought.

4. If you can be aware of it listening with your eyes closed, it is thought. The object itself does not physically exist. You are aware of an internal visual image or something communicated by sound.


A list of things:

1. air : matter

2. alphabet being recited: thought -- Thought: Recitation of the alphabet is an activity of thought and so is listening to this.

3. book: matter, life, thought -- Life: The paper in a book is made of cellulose from a dead tree. Thought: The book is a manufactured product.

4. bowl: matter, thought -- Thought: The pottery is a manufactured product.

5. bread; matter, life, thought -- Life: Bread is made from wheat and yeast which are living organisms. Thought: The ingredients must be baked to produce a loaf. Slices are cut from the loaf.

6. brick: matter, thought -- Thought: The raw materials are shaped and baked.

7. chicken dinner: matter, life, thought -- Life: The chicken is a dead animal whose flesh is eaten. Thought: The chicken is butchered, cooked, and served on a plate.

8. cloud: matter

9. coal: matter, life -- Life: A lump of mined coal is a fossil of carbon that originated in the decayed remains of plants or algae from 300 to 400 million years ago.

10. coin (a quarter): matter, thought -- Thought: The coin is fabricated from metal.

11. comb (plastic): matter, life, thought -- Life: The plastic is derived from oil, the residue of dead vegetation from antiquity. Thought: The comb is a manufactured product.

12. corn on the cob: matter, life, thought -- Life: Corn (maize) is the seed of a living plant. Thought: Corn is a domesticated plant derived from a wild Mexican grass.

13. cow: matter, life, thought -- Life: The cow is a living animal. Thought: She is a domesticated animal, consciously bred to produce milk.

14. dandelion flower: matter, life -- Life: The picked dandelion is a dead plant that grows apart from human cultivation.

15. Declaration of Independence: matter, life, thought Life: The original document was made of parchment, derived from animal skin. Thought: The Declaration of Independence contained thoughtful text.

16. dog: matter, life, thought -- Life: The dog is a living animal. Thought: Dog are domesticated animals.

17. earthworm: matter, life -- Life: The earthworm is a live animal taken from the wild.

18. eye glasses: matter, thought Thought: The pair of eyeglasses is manufactured from plastic lenses and metal or plastic frames.

19. feather: matter, life -- Life: Feathers come from the body of birds.

20. fire produced by a cigarette lighter: matter, life, thought -- Life: Fire comes from oil in the lighter. Thought: The fire is produced by a manufactured product.

21. glass for drinking: matter, thought -- Thought: The glass container is made from silicon particles.

22. human being: matter, life -- Life: The human being is a live animal.

23. ice cube: matter, thought Thought: The cubes are manufactured from water placed in a freezer.

24. key: matter, thought -- Thought: The key to unlock a door is a manufactured product.

25. leaf: matter, life -- Life: A leaf provides nutrition for the plant in breaking down carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen into the air.

26. music when we sing a song: thought -- Thought: The patterns in music are perceived by thought.

27. pancake breakfast: matter, life, thought -- Life:The pancake comes from buckwheat flour. Likewise, butter and maple syrup come from living creatures. Thought: Human activity is required to put the ingredients together, cook them, and serve a meal.

28. paper clip: matter, thought -- Thought: The paper clip is manufactured from steel wire.

29. pear : matter, life, thought -- Life: The pear is a fruit grown on a tree. Thought: This tree is a domesticated plant.

30. pepper in a shaker: matter, life -- Life: The pepper comes from an Indonesian plant.

31. pine cone: matter, life -- Life: The cone is produced by a living tree.

32. postage stamp: matter, life, thought -- Life: The stamp contains paper and glue, both products of life. Thought: The stamp with printed image is manufactured and used for commercial purposes.

33. Pythagorean theorem: thought -- Thought: The famous theorem does not physically exist nor is it a living creature. However, one can know it through thought.

34. rock: matter

35. rope: matter, life, thought -- Life: Rope is usually made from a vegetable material. Thought: Rope is manufactured by weaving smaller strands together.

36. rubber band: matter, life, thought -- Life: Rubber is the product of a live tree. Thought: The rubber band is a manufactured product.

37. salt in a shaker: matter

38. sand from a beach: matter

39. scrambled eggs: matter, life, thought -- Life: Eggs are the reproductive cell of chickens. Milk comes from a cow. Thought: Human activity is required to put the ingredients together, cook them, and serve a meal.

40. shoes: matter, life, thought -- Life: The leather is the skin of a dead animal. Thought: Shoes are a manufactured product.

41. soap: matter, life, thought -- Life: The soap is made from the fat of a dead animal. Thought: Soap is a manufactured product.

42. squirrel: matter, life -- Life: The squirrel is a wild animal.

43. stick taken from the woods: matter, life -- Life: The stick is a piece of wood from a tree growing in the wild.

44. table: matter, life, thought -- Life: The table is made of wood that comes from dead trees. Thought: The table is a manufactured product.

45. tee shirt: matter, life, thought -- Life: The cotton fiber comes from a plant. Thought: Clothing is a manufactured product.

46. toothbrush: matter, thought -- Thought: The toothbrush is manufactured from bristle material and a plastic holder.

47. top soil: matter, life -- Life: Soil is composed of dead vegetation plus bits of rock.

48. umbrella: matter, thought -- Thought: An umbrella is made of metal, wood, and nylon fabric according to a mechanical design.

49. water: matter

50. wool sweater: matter, life, thought -- Life: The sweater is made of wool sheared from a live sheep. Thought: It is a manufactured product.


Note: No explanation for matter is required since all physical objects are of this type.


Focus of the Exercise:

The primary focus should be on these questions: Where did this thing come from? How was it produced? What caused it to be? (In other words, we want each object to have its own creation story.)

Because matter, life, and thought have such different natures and histories, it is useful to devise separate sets of questions for each type of being. The following template can be used to guide the discussions.


A Template for Discussion:


(A) What is this thing made of?

(B) Does the thing exist in nature or is it manufactured?

(C) Does its main substance consist of inorganic or organic materials?

(D) If inorganic, what is its chemical composition?

(E) Tell how the substance was obtained.


Life (if the thing consists of organic materials):

(A) Which plant or animal does this come from?

(B) Where is this species in the tree of life?

(C) What was the function of the extracted material in the living organism?

(D) Did it come from a living or dead creature?

(E) Was the creature a domesticated species or did it come from the wild?


Thought (if the thing was manufactured or it is pure thought):

(A) How is the thing used?

(B) Describe its manufacturing process.

(C) Give a brief history of this thing.


Go to things - answers to find this template applied to the above list of things.


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