What is a synthetic idea?

What is a synthetic idea? Before we get into the subject, let us remember that ideas perceived through various processes, both rational and logical as more abstract processes (imagination), are products of mind. The American educator and philosopher John Dewey (1859-1952), for his part, defined thinking leads between what we already know, our memory, and what we see.

According to Dewey, through these three aspects, we give meaning to events, we create, we give ideas … and, from all of this, an idea emerges. But luckily, it’s not just one type of thinking, but many of them. There are thought processes that lead us to reflect, and others to debate, analyze, synthesize, summarize, explore …

Today we will know a very specific type of thinking: synthetic thinking. What is a characteristic? Why is it? What examples do we find? Find out through this article.

Hemologically, the concept of synthesis its origins are in Latin; specifically, is from synthesis. Its most remote roots, however, are found in a Greek word. This term refers to the full presentation thanks to highlighting its most interesting or excellent parts. For it, the RAE defines synthesis as ‘a complete composition by the assembly of its parts’ and ‘the sum and compendium of one or another material’.

Well, we already know what synthesis is, but what about synthetic thinking? The head would it works when one needs to reduce the amount of goods and processes they are learning to amalgamate or unite them into a smaller unit. This unit will incorporate the most significant elements of each segment.

Through synthetic thinking, we are able to explain a phenomenon or event according to the role (or function) it plays within a larger system.


For example, synthetic thinking is what allows us to study the various organs of the human body; In this case, the organs are found within a larger system (endocrine, digestive, cardiovascular, nervous…) and, in turn, these systems are within an even larger system, the one configured by the human body.

Another example of this kind of thinking the one we use to reach a final conclusion in conversation, forum, discussion… It is also the one we use to summarize a text, experience, book, film, etc.

Analytical thinking would be “opposite” to the synthetic system. So though Analytical thinking is about breaking the whole down into simpler and more independent parts, information of synthetic groups. Analytical thinking, on the other hand, seeks solution o explain each of the parts, as well as integrating these explanations to explain the whole; In synthetic thinking, the opposite happens, that the parts are united to create a meaningful global content.

To make it more visual and better understand these concepts, let’s imagine, for example, the work staff in a hospital; If we use analytical thinking, we will analyze each team member individually (their contributions, interests, functions …). But, Through synthetic thinking, we will build each team member and reunite them as a whole as a work team. That is, we will consider what teamwork contributes to, its benefits, and how the team as a whole performs, etc.

United staff of the working hand

Why did we also talk about analytical thinking? Because this type of thinking, which is added to synthetic thinking, creates so-called systems thinking. About, systemic thinking is the interpretation of whole phenomena consisting of parts of the system, in order to make decisions.

We find other definitions for this type of thinking, such as the one suggested by Francisco Sáez. Sáez therefore affirms that systemic thinking seeks to understand the patterns that determine how different systems behave, how they interact, and how they influence each other. That is, it would be a kind of moderately global thinking that would interrelate between different elements.

We have seen different types of thinking, but the idea should be that each of them will be useful for one task or another; the most important thing in the end is our cognitive flexibility in adapting this thinking to the task at hand. Synthetic thinking prioritizes synthesis, grouping, collection of conclusive information… For this reason, it is a type of thinking that can be very useful in academic tasks, for example, or when we need to summarize or get key ideas from a large amount of information.

“All we are is the result of what we thought.”

-Siddartha Gautama-

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