0
   

thought without language?

 
 
Fairbanks
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Oct, 2008 11:20 am
@sarathustrah,
sarathustrah wrote:
. . . , i think that brain activity is enough to be called thought...

. . .

Smile
Reference to the CNS is convenient enough but is not philosophic. The questions have arisen brain or no brain. Individual cells have behavior and evidently make decisions. Walnut trees have behavior. Under stress they produce a compound that relieves stress and they communicate this from tree to tree. Is verbal sentience a requirement of intelligence? Maybe not.
0 Replies
 
Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Wed 15 Oct, 2008 11:32 am
@BrightNoon,
I am thinking that if one is born deaf and never hears language, thus, never learns any language would probably experience the world as close to animal like as humanly possible. They would still find pleasure in things and they still could see to their fundamental needs, but without the inner voice I wonder if they would be able to act rationally and reason through cause and effect. Sure, they would develop an instinct to avoid dangerous situation, but animals have this capability as well.
BrightNoon
 
  1  
Reply Tue 21 Oct, 2008 09:30 pm
@Theaetetus,
How might the questions, "What am I, what is my purpose" be phrased, thought or self-postulated by someone without any communicative means? How might they be structured in the head? How could they have even been conceived without the symbolism required to remember or learn what "what" is? In that frame of mind, how is the concept "purpose" known or isolated.

Exactly. Thinking occurs in ideas, in terms of ideas. Ideas are of things. I consider this debate ended.

However, I was wondering about something else, about auditory versus visual thought, and which has primacy. It seems to me that most people display the former. My question is this; is the dominance of auditory thought in the human population the result of society, of the evolutionairy neccessity toward civilization and of communication? Think about it; a lone person has no need to speak and would not form his ideas from spoken language. Was the world of primitive man, before he learned to speak to any great extent, thought of visually? Is the inner monologue a fairly recent development?
Theaetetus
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2008 06:41 am
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon wrote:
How might the questions, "What am I, what is my purpose" be phrased, thought or self-postulated by someone without any communicative means? How might they be structured in the head? How could they have even been conceived without the symbolism required to remember or learn what "what" is? In that frame of mind, how is the concept "purpose" known or isolated.

Exactly. Thinking occurs in ideas, in terms of ideas. Ideas are of things. I consider this debate ended.

However, I was wondering about something else, about auditory versus visual thought, and which has primacy. It seems to me that most people display the former. My question is this; is the dominance of auditory thought in the human population the result of society, of the evolutionairy neccessity toward civilization and of communication? Think about it; a lone person has no need to speak and would not form his ideas from spoken language. Was the world of primitive man, before he learned to speak to any great extent, thought of visually? Is the inner monologue a fairly recent development?


Well the inner monologue necessarily rose from the development of language. It wouldn't make sense to have an inner monologue without words forming it. Thus, the development of the inner monologue must be a fairly recent development (relatively speaking).

I actually forgot about visual thought, so I wonder did man before language still think in visual images, and are animals capable of thinking in image? It would seem so based on the reaction of pets to various stimuli, but then again this could just be a form of conditioning.
BrightNoon
 
  1  
Reply Wed 22 Oct, 2008 01:16 pm
@Theaetetus,
Well the inner monologue necessarily rose from the development of language. It wouldn't make sense to have an inner monologue without words forming it. Thus, the development of the inner monologue must be a fairly recent development (relatively speaking).

Yes, it isn't a very diffiult question is it? I just love to imagine prehistory, when more of man's thoughts were related to his immediate experience (i.e. no thoughts of molecules, bacteria, stars, UV radiation, other countries, complex natural processes, etc), so I was thinking about a time before the 'tyranny of words', as I like to all it. Anyway...

I actually forgot about visual thought, so I wonder did man before language still think in visual images, and are animals capable of thinking in image? It would seem so based on the reaction of pets to various stimuli, but then again this could just be a form of conditioning.

I think this raises an intersting question; 'what is thought?' What is the relation between conditioning and thought; is one causal of the other? My view is that thought is strictly a product of experiened stimuli and so an animal has thought as a man does, as he experienes stimuli. I think there is nothing essentially different between a man and a chimp, a dog, a mouse, an inset, a tree, a moss, a protists, a baterium and a plume of smoke in terms of thought, except of degree. As Nietzshe said, a crystal 'thinks' by maintaing its form. Anything whih has a struture, whih would be everything, is reactive. The division betwen living and non-living is arbitrary and only a mattter of complexity. I see no way around this idea unless one beleives in a magical soul, which, for no particular reason, we have and other structures do not.
0 Replies
 
psi
 
  1  
Reply Sun 9 Nov, 2008 03:36 pm
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon wrote:
I have a question, here it is:

If a person is born deaf, never having heard anything, including a human voice, what happens when he thinks something "to himself." Without an inner monologue, what is the nature of his thought?


I think that all thoughts are nothing but the simulteineous existance of many more or less related sensations, of varying intensities, relative to their original intensity and their distance from the present. Does this mean that such a person as mentioned above would have an inner powerpoint, an inner kinesthesia. an inner tongue? I suppose that, for whatever reason, auditory sensation is the manner in which most information is stored in most people; and so, I suppose that some other sense would probably become dominant, probably vision.

Any thoughts?


I tend to think in concepts rather than words. The only time I 'talk to myself' it is in order to arrange the words I am going to speak. If I am contemplating science or religion or anything requiring 'deeper' thought then words don't usually come into my head. The language of words is so shallow no matter what size vocabulary you possess, and is thought by many to be a poor form of communication.
0 Replies
 
Henrik phil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 06:16 am
@BrightNoon,
We think only with words when we decide to do it, whats what I think. It doesn't have to be visual either. It's just thoughts. You try the best you can to "publish" your thoughts to others by speaking.

When you move your hand, you don't hear a voice inside your head saying "move hand". You just do it, thats how i wrote this text too. The only words moving though my brain was how I was going to express my thoughts in English. The rest of the thinking was done in neither Norwegian nor English, but in thoughts.

When I think, I do not have to think about vocabulary, you can think things without beeing able to axplain it with words.
0 Replies
 
Lord Lucan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 06:56 am
@BrightNoon,
There is also the possibility that expressing some thought (more or less badly) might have an effect on the thought itself. Maybe people are more likely to believe what they hear themselves saying rather than what they think.
Henrik phil
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 07:29 am
@Lord Lucan,
Lord Lucan;33140 wrote:
There is also the possibility that expressing some thought (more or less badly) might have an effect on the thought itself. Maybe people are more likely to believe what they hear themselves saying rather than what they think.


I agree.
Our subconcience is often pretty smart!
...But also pretty instinctive sometimes.
0 Replies
 
BrightNoon
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 11:58 am
@BrightNoon,
Henrik, what is a thought if not residue from sensation: i.e. sound, sight, touch, etc? Do you think that thoughts are some kind of pure substance, essentially supernatural? Those seem like the only two choices to me. If you say that thought is structure, that is just not complete; of what is the structure composed? I would say sensation.
Fairbanks
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 12:52 pm
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon wrote:
Henrik, what is a thought if not residue from sensation: i.e. sound, sight, touch, etc? Do you think that thoughts are some kind of pure substance, essentially supernatural? Those seem like the only two choices to me. If you say that thought is structure, that is just not complete; of what is the structure composed? I would say sensation.

Smile
What would the residue be called in modern terminology? Memory?
0 Replies
 
Lord Lucan
 
  1  
Reply Thu 13 Nov, 2008 02:56 pm
@BrightNoon,
Surely if we use the term 'thought', we are either referring to something that goes on in our own mind or inferring that something similar goes on in other peoples' minds. So that is what thought is.
0 Replies
 
Henrik phil
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Dec, 2008 07:54 pm
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon;33196 wrote:
Henrik, what is a thought if not residue from sensation: i.e. sound, sight, touch, etc? Do you think that thoughts are some kind of pure substance, essentially supernatural? Those seem like the only two choices to me. If you say that thought is structure, that is just not complete; of what is the structure composed? I would say sensation.

I think that thoughts are calculations, and an illusion of free will.
William
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Dec, 2008 09:42 pm
@BrightNoon,
BrightNoon wrote:
I have a question, here it is:

If a person is born deaf, never having heard anything, including a human voice, what happens when he thinks something "to himself." Without an inner monologue, what is the nature of his thought?


I think that all thoughts are nothing but the simulteineous existance of many more or less related sensations, of varying intensities, relative to their original intensity and their distance from the present. Does this mean that such a person as mentioned above would have an inner powerpoint, an inner kinesthesia. an inner tongue? I suppose that, for whatever reason, auditory sensation is the manner in which most information is stored in most people; and so, I suppose that some other sense would probably become dominant, probably vision.

Any thoughts?


BrightNoon,
I apologize for not reading all the responses to your original post and for reiterating thoughts that might have been made in the interium. IMO, anyone who is lucky enough to have all their senses cannot relate to one's mental facilities who is lacking one or more of those senses.

Internally they have standby perceptions we are not aware of and if left alone would use the senses they do have in such a way that is alien to us. IMO. Our "empathy" does them more harm than good, in my opinion. Their mind has made all the necessary adjustments and it is our ignorance to those adustments that lessens those life experiences for the sensory impaired. We can learn from these people. We can learn a lot as we delve into how important the senses are and what they are capable of as it relates to the other senses they do have control over and how they "use" them. We spend more time enabling them to conform to us, than we do efforting to understnd the heighten manifestation of the other senses they possess that will improve our understanding. They are here to to help us understand what the senses are capable of.

Sorry, I did not comprehend the text of your original post and could be off course here, but this is what it brought to my mind. If I did not address it properly, I apoligize. Just as it is with prodigious savants, we can learn a world of information from them if we just knew how. There is very little vigorous research devoted to what we can learn from these "special" people.

William
0 Replies
 
quandary
 
  1  
Reply Wed 24 Dec, 2008 04:42 pm
@Henrik phil,
Henrik;37875 wrote:
I think that thoughts are calculations, and an illusion of free will.


I do not believe thoughts are only calculations because you can 'think' about a sensation. Sentience is not a calculation.
hammersklavier
 
  1  
Reply Fri 2 Jan, 2009 04:02 pm
@quandary,
I think, that for humans, it is impossible to have thought without language.

I think in words and sentences, and occassionally in raw images, but then have to use words to think about thinking about the images.
ACB
 
  1  
Reply Sat 3 Jan, 2009 09:50 am
@hammersklavier,
hammersklavier wrote:
I think, that for humans, it is impossible to have thought without language.

I think in words and sentences, and occassionally in raw images, but then have to use words to think about thinking about the images.


I disagree. You need words in order to express your thinking about the images, but not to merely think about it. And the fact that you can think in raw images in the first place seems to disprove that 'it is impossible to have thought without language'. (Remember, you only need one counter-example to disprove it.)

If you observe a complex scene, or a complex pattern on a screen or paper, you can register a mass of detail almost immediately, whereas it might take literally years if you had to describe it in words down to the very finest detail. Look at cloud patterns; when they change slightly, you are aware that they have changed, but you would find it very difficult to describe in words the precise change.
0 Replies
 
hammersklavier
 
  1  
Reply Sat 24 Jan, 2009 12:07 pm
@BrightNoon,
Actually, I rethought my position (re my thoughts on the Sapir-Whorf thread). We cannot have conscious thought without language but we can most certainly have unconscious or subconscious thought without it.

In fact, I now think we have levels of thinking that correspond to all sense modes, not just pictures, but pictures, music, touch, taste, etc., and emotions are a subsensory mode of perception (in fact, the most instinctual ones we can consciously perceive).

You may think I contradicted myself. But lo: no! While we can perceive in our minds sublingual thought, in order to consider that perception we must think about it with language...and that is what constitutes conscious thought rather than just conscious perception.
BrightNoon
 
  1  
Reply Mon 26 Jan, 2009 01:19 pm
@hammersklavier,
Yea Fairbanks, that would be memory in my opinion
0 Replies
 
Oh phil
 
  1  
Reply Wed 28 Jan, 2009 11:52 am
@Tyr,
Tyr wrote:
An interesting question has arisen in my thinking about this. This man who has the absence of all his senses, if he was without thoughts, would he be considered as 'alive' at that point?


Oh yes, he could even become President.

More to the point of the topic, when I was learning kayak surfing, moving fast and in unfamiliar and sometimes counter-intuitive ways through a chaotic and completely unfamiliar environment, where I had few established concepts to apply, I felt that I was getting some insight into what language-free thought might be like, for an animal perhaps.
0 Replies
 
 

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