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thought without language?

 
 
Kontrover-c
 
  1  
Reply Thu 24 Sep, 2009 02:42 pm
@BrightNoon,
This is definitely a question for someone deaf. I agree with the notion that people hard of hearing from birth think visually. But that`s as far as anyone can take it except for a deaf person. Even then I would think that the explanation would be too hard to understand.
memester
 
  1  
Reply Thu 3 Dec, 2009 03:23 am
@Kontrover-c,
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wp_cyhGIHLQ
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Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 12:09 am
@BrightNoon,
It depends what one calls a thought. But, according to the way I understand "thought," there is no thought without language.
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 06:22 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;109136 wrote:
It depends what one calls a thought. But, according to the way I understand "thought," there is no thought without language.
Lots of rational purposeful highly skilled activity takes place without translation into "language". So what do you call a "thought"?
How do you understand "thought" and "thinking" and "perceptual awareness"?
I would say "language" is just a medium for recording or communicating our "thoughts"? Language is the/an abstraction of thinking not "thought" itself.
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Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 06:29 pm
@BrightNoon,
It all hinges on what a person means by "thought." There is certainly intelligent activity without words.

Are we really in opposition or is it a matter of definition?
prothero
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 06:36 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;109379 wrote:
It all hinges on what a person means by "thought." There is certainly intelligent activity without words.

Are we really in opposition or is it a matter of definition?
Probably a matter of "definition" but I think (no pun intended) it is precisely the question being raised. Are thought and language the same thing? mutually dependent or are they fundamentally different things?
Do you think in language most of the time or only when you are communicating or writing? I find it strange to assume that all my thoughts are language? Quite contrary to experience. I seem to "think" without language all the time, most of the time actually.
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Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 06:58 pm
@BrightNoon,
For me it's associated pretty strongly with word. Read any Joyce? His stream of consciousness style seems like a decent approximation.
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prothero
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 07:14 pm
@BrightNoon,
:Glasses:I would say what is remarkable about Finnegan's Wake is that Joyce bothered to translate his stream of consciouness (thoughts) into words. Most of us do not make that effort or see the point of doing so. In fact a lot of people find reading Finnegans Wake pointless rambling. Great literature though?
Do dogs have thoughts? other than sit, shake hands and no bark? They certainly engage in purposeful directed activity (close to my defintion of thought by the way).
Just by way of friendly inquiry.
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Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 07:19 pm
@BrightNoon,
I've often wondered about animals. Their behavior suggests a certain amount of imagination/symbolization.

Not to be a d***, but it was Ulysses in which Joyce did the stream of consciousness. Finnegans Wake was something else, a carefully crafted night-language or hyper-language, as stuffed with suggestiveness as possible. Some of Finnegans Wake makes sense to me. Norman O. Brown wrote a great book called Closing Time on Joyce and Vico. It's a deep book. Touches on the roots of culture and language.
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memester
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 08:17 pm
@Reconstructo,
Reconstructo;109136 wrote:
It depends what one calls a thought. But, according to the way I understand "thought," there is no thought without language.

so do people who cannot see, hear, or talk, have thoughts ?
Reconstructo
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Dec, 2009 11:14 pm
@memester,
memester;109440 wrote:
so do people who cannot see, hear, or talk, have thoughts ?


What I usually call thoughts are made of words. But "thought" is not a word I have the copyright on.

From that perspective, a person must have at some time learned a language in order to have thoughts.
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rjvg50
 
  1  
Reply Fri 12 Mar, 2010 03:56 pm
@Khethil,
Khethil;22961 wrote:
Hmm, interesting question.

We think in the language of words that we know - memories are compartmentalized in our minds using the vocabulary we primarily use. How would one think without any basis for this compartmentalization?

I don't know; sounds a little disturbing to me - what that might be like - from birth to be without any structure (blind, deaf and dumb). I'd think ones mental existence would be a mass of unstructured feelings, sensations and chaos. Maybe not... Yea, there are a good-lot of examples of folks' perspectives who've been limited in their ability to communicate and perceive (and even more troublesome ones where folks lose it; ala "Johnny got his Gun").

... unless somehow the human mind has the ability to structure itself, absent of any external stimuli, to self-define. I'm going to have toss out a huge "I don't know" on this one.


From reading Steven Pinker and a little Chomsky, it seems that our mental faculties have more predefined structure, including universal grammar than you suggest. You seemed to have assumed more of a Blank Slate.

The counter to "we think in the words we know" would be my reaction to the first charging beast that I had ever met. I would not need to reduce the experience to my known vocabulary to instinctively react. I might reflect on the experience from high up in the tree that I climbed to escape, "that was a large, hairy, loud, cat-like, angry-sounding beast". But the words would have taken so long to express - even in the language of thought - that I would not have the opportunity to think them.
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north
 
  1  
Reply Sat 13 Mar, 2010 09:31 pm
@Fairbanks,
Fairbanks;22937 wrote:
Smile

For a couple of examples there are Tesla and Einstein, although they were perfectly capable in language and sight. They thought visually, so they said. Both were capable of designing complete systems in their minds. That is probably typical of engineers who think in three dimensions, visualize solid space and maybe four dimensionally in some cases. Another is Helen Keller.
Quote:


Quote:
If she had hearing and sight she lost it very early and her world was dark and soundless, yet she went far. How she thought, who knows, but she did.


by feel and imagination
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