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The description of the FreeThinkers group includes the words "... promoting the process of thinking outside the box", which makes me wonder "What is a box (in this context)?"

That question has slammed my grey cell up against the wall of "Why do I choose certain actions, and why do I accept my current world view?". The answers of "Because those are my personal values, and my current world view is the best that I have been able to produce after 68 years of living" are in some sense trite, and it makes me wonder what box or boxes is/are constraining my thought processes.

I don't know if this post will generate any sort of discussion, but I felt impelled to post it in case it tickles anybody else's grey cell.

anglophone 8 Sep 7
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One major problem I see is that the 'box' frames a certain set of ideals and way of thinking. But, when one steps outside one box one often steps inside another. I have rejected many past 'norms' but have developed another set. That will change, hopefully, until the end but the new boxes will become smaller and smaller and most will lie within a larger box.

I sense a shift on the meaning of the word "box" here. "To think outside the box" is a colocation, and @Marionville has in my view given an accurate description of the meaning of that colocation. When it comes to the shift from Newtonian mechanics to the Theory of General Relativity, the latter includes the former, and so it cannot be described as stepping outside one box and into another box.

When it comes to ideals, my guess is that you are talking about values and possibly aspirations. I see those as being those things each individual regards as being important to themselves. It could be choices of food, sexual partner or political party for example. I can see an application of the boxes idea in this context: switching from one religion to another or abandoning religion altogether. My own atheism box is bounded by the walls (if you can call it that) of the Scientific Method.

P.S. Thanks for the link. 🙂

@anglophone Sometimes words have more than one meaning. Marionville's answer talks about re-framing, which could include the sides of a box. I know, sometimes I take on the role of grammar police person but, in my view, this is different.

@JackPedigo I am all too familiar with the ambiguity of words. I laugh in the face of all religitards who conflate the different meanings of the word "believe" (and who then go on to insist that I believe that there is no god).


I’ve always understood the expression “thinking outside the box” to mean looking beyond the already known and accepted models in any sphere of human endeavour to find better or improved ones, or to find solutions to problems hitherto insoluble.

In other words looking at things with a new perspective, especially one which challenges old ideas and the accepted way of thinking or acting.

To misquote Telly Savalas "Ma'am, I like your style".

P.S. The endeavour of mathematics includes looking for solutions to problems. Recent successes include the four colour theorem and Fermat's Last Theorem. As I understand it, the Collatz Conjecture still awaits proof, but Terence Tao may be onto something in that regard.

@anglophone I will concur to your superior knowledge on this subject…being that in matters mathematical I’m afraid I’m a bit of a duffer!

@Marionville Everybody brings their own strengths to the world, and you are no exception. 🙂



KateOahu Level 8 Sep 7, 2021

PROpelled! 😉

@anglophone by?

@MsKathleen By a PROpeller! 😉


This is an interesting thought. On brief reflection, I’d posit that we are all in some kind of box(es).

KateOahu Level 8 Sep 7, 2021
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