I was reading this goo thesaurus page on the nuances between 思い, 考え, 思考, and 思索, and I got confused by how the example uses related to the nuances given in the explanation. The explanation stated that 思い is for more subjective/emotional thoughts, 考え and 思考 for more objective thoughts following reason then judgement, and 思索 is for deep thinking about heavy, abstract concepts.

The examples are as follows:

  1. ...をめぐらす (all 4 are okay)
  2. ...を述べる (only 思い and 考え are acceptable)
  3. 主観的な...を排す (only 考え and 思考 are acceptable)
  4. 哲学的な...にふける (only 思索 is fully acceptable, and 考え is somewhat acceptable)

1 is mostly fine to me, and I assume the nuances of each are as expected from the earlier explanations. But the rest all confuse me.

For the second, why can you express your 思い and your 考え, but not your 思考 or your 思索? Particularly it is confusing why 思考 isn't allowed since goo made it sound like it was the same as 考え.

For the third, it feels like only 思い should be acceptable, since it mentions subjectivity expressly, but its not even allowed, while the objective 考え and 思考 are allowed.

And for the final one, while it makes sense that 思索 is the only acceptable one while 考え is only partially acceptable, why is 思考 also not partially acceptable?

  • I don't understand what your enumerated list is about. をめぐらす (all 4 are okay). what do you mean by this? Nor do I understand what the next three are about either. Can you expand on this to clarify what you mean? It seems you copying the table from the linked sight. But I'm not sure what that's about either. For example, do they mean 思いをめぐらす?
    – A.Ellett
    Sep 24, 2021 at 15:47
  • What I mean is that 思いをめぐらす, 考えをめぐらす, 思考をめぐらす, and 思索をめぐらす are all considered to be acceptable. The "..." is just a fill in for the word in question.
    – MegaZeroX
    Sep 24, 2021 at 16:07

2 Answers 2


First I guess acceptability is inevitably subjective after all, so the following may apply only to me.

Generally 思い is more about emotion while the other can be reasoning. As for 思考 and 思索, they are more the (inner) act of thinking, less of its result (though they can be). Between 思考 and 思索, there is more emphasis on process in 思索 (hence 思考過程 is fine while 思索過程 is not due to redundancy).

  • That {思考,思索}を述べる are not acceptable can be explained by 思考/思索 being more of act.

  • 主観的な思い is not acceptable because of redundancy or a matter of collocation. I assume subjective emotion is not really usual in English either (If I'm wrong on this, then it is only that Japanese and English are different). Also: 客観的な思い is simply impossible.

  • 哲学的な思考 actually is possible. BCCWJ has 3 examples, one of which is "きわめて深い 哲学的な思考 をも示した、アメリカの心理学者エイブラハム・マズロー". BCCWJ also gives an example of 思考にふける, so 哲学的な思考にふける should be at least partially acceptable. Maybe simply an error in the dictionary.

I know redundancy may not always make some expressions unacceptable, but I guess sometimes it does.

  • Could 思考を述べる or 思索を述べる be used for describing the thought process itself or are they completely ungrammatical? I think @kimi Tanaka's post implies the former
    – MegaZeroX
    Sep 25, 2021 at 4:11
  • I wouldn't say they are ungrammatical, but they are rare and won't be understood as meaning state the thought process. One thing I noticed while I googled around is that 思考を言語化する (put the thought into language) is more natural than 考えを言語化する, which may suggest 思考 is a more primitive form than 考え. Or maybe simply collocation matters.
    – sundowner
    Sep 25, 2021 at 6:44

The noun 思い vs 考え vs 思考 vs 思索 may sound differently using some modifier.

For 1. and 2., I think you can use all 4 nouns if you explain background of what you want to say.

  1. 主観的な...を排す sounds very definitive predicate, so only 考え and 思考 sound natural since 思い and 思索 sound more sentimental and speculative the former two.

  2. 哲学的な...にふける sounds more of a mind wandering or pondering, so 思索 and 考え may fit well. But it depends on the context, 思考 and 思い may work too.

Probably only for No3, the phrase itself tries to exclude something concrete, so 考え and 思考 may fit better than 思い and 思索 which are more speculative.

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