What language is denkmittel from and what does it translate to?

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According to the Word Reference Forum, it translates to “thinking medium,” which doesn’t really make any sense to me.Babel Fish renders it as “thinking means,” which is even less helpful.

I’'ll stop wasting everyone’s time now.

Yeah, it’s a German compound word that I as a native speaker can’t recall ever hearing. I guess “thinking device” would be a possible translation, but not as in computer.

By Googling, I find that it’s a technical term used by William James in his philosophical works. Here’s where it’s defined:

James says that “All our conceptions are what the Germans call denkmittel, means by which we handle facts by thinking them.” It appears then that (in his system) the denkmittel is the framework of assumptions that we use to interpret how the world works. (According to him) we don’t directly understand our experiences but filter them through the denkmittel.

I never heard this word, too.

Maybe it’s made up from “mittels Denken”(which means “by thinking”) or “mittels Gedanken” (“thoughts”). I never heard these expressions, but they would make more sense.

I for one have never encountered the word but it is one of those compound words that, once you hear them, you have a pretty good idea what they mean. It seems to be a somewhat dated philosphical term of art.

This is a definition from a 1904 philosophical dictionary:

BTW the literal meaning is “means or tool for the purpose of thinking”.

Similar formations: Schlafmittel = soporific drug, Brechmittel = emetic drug, Waschmittel = washing agent, Hilfsmittel = something used to help with a task, Hausmittel = household remedy

Could this be a way of saying “food for thought”?

Simmerdown, I don’t think so. It’s really a means for thought. Based on the definitions that Mops and Wendell Wagner found it sounds like it’s a structure for organizing thought, rather than something that sparks more thoughts.

A table full of food for thought?

Nice research. Are you a professional in the field?