Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

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creativesoul
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by creativesoul » Sun Oct 23, 2016 5:32 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
creativesoul wrote:
Terrapin Station wrote:Okay, so what in that specific example of thought is the language part?...
Ill-conceived question. Do not confuse what it takes to be without language and what it takes to be without talking.
I'm not making a claim about either. I'm simply asking you a question.

Let's try it this way. In your view, when I think of an intervallic pattern like "1 9 b7 11 up a step 1 9 b7 11 etc.", I'm thinking linguistically, correct?
If what counts as thinking "linguistically" is any and all thought/belief that is existentially contingent upon language, then yes.

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Greta
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by Greta » Sun Oct 23, 2016 6:15 am

Certainly we can think without formal language. Musically, as mentioned. Or mental picture or sound imagery.

Music is a language (as per above debate), no doubt, coming in both abstracted written form or sonic form. Then again, just about anything can be a language, including plain old visual data. In fact, I would say that the process of science is one of deciphering the history, destiny, dynamics and meanings of phenomena in way not unlike the deciphering of language to find meanings. The efficacy of any language depends more on the acuity of the observer than on the clarity of the sender. Professions like hunting, poker playing and police interviewing rely on the perception of unconsciously conveyed information.

Is it language if an animal makes a loud noise in distress? Not a formal language, but part of what I think of as the simple "universal language" of the wild, which of course is highly visceral. The cry of pain. The sight of something huge coming your way. The predatory or challenging stare. Running away and submission. Open jaws with fangs. Loud, aggressive noises. Many mammals, birds and reptiles understand these cues about as vividly as we do.

Still, if everything is language then nothing is, so we need a dividing line, while remaining mindful that whatever line we draw with be somewhat arbitrary. We certainly do think without formal human language, but our level of mental abstraction (how "wordy" our minds are) not only varies between individuals, but also between different phases of our life, from day to day and from minute to minute.

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Terrapin Station
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by Terrapin Station » Sun Oct 23, 2016 12:12 pm

creativesoul wrote:
Terrapin Station wrote:
creativesoul wrote:
Ill-conceived question. Do not confuse what it takes to be without language and what it takes to be without talking.
I'm not making a claim about either. I'm simply asking you a question.

Let's try it this way. In your view, when I think of an intervallic pattern like "1 9 b7 11 up a step 1 9 b7 11 etc.", I'm thinking linguistically, correct?
If what counts as thinking "linguistically" is any and all thought/belief that is existentially contingent upon language, then yes.
Earlier I had written this but you didn't comment on it:

"It sounds like you're commenting on language being a social precursor to things like the well-tempered tuning system and so on. But I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the content present in a specific example of thinking."

creativesoul
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by creativesoul » Sun Oct 23, 2016 9:05 pm

Terrapin Station wrote:
creativesoul wrote:
Terrapin Station wrote:I'm not making a claim about either. I'm simply asking you a question.

Let's try it this way. In your view, when I think of an intervallic pattern like "1 9 b7 11 up a step 1 9 b7 11 etc.", I'm thinking linguistically, correct?
If what counts as thinking "linguistically" is any and all thought/belief that is existentially contingent upon language, then yes.
Earlier I had written this but you didn't comment on it:

"It sounds like you're commenting on language being a social precursor to things like the well-tempered tuning system and so on. But I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the content present in a specific example of thinking."
The content in that specific example of thinking is existentially contingent upon language. My earlier counter-argument to that example still applies.



Greta has brought up the notion of what counts as being language. Shared meaning being used to attain some goal or other. That requires the same correlations drawn between 'objects' of physiological sensory perception and/or oneself. So, as just outlined, on my view it is not only possible, but necessary to be able to think without language. That is not to be confused with all unspoken thought though. There is a difference between non-linguistic thought and unspoken thought. Both are unspoken. All non-linguistic thought is unspoken, but not all unspoken thought is non-linguistic.

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Terrapin Station
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by Terrapin Station » Sun Oct 23, 2016 10:37 pm

creativesoul wrote:The content in that specific example of thinking is existentially contingent upon language. My earlier counter-argument to that example still applies.
There's a difference between content (such as the content of x) and existential contingency (a la x being existentially contingent on y--y is not identical to the content of x, even if x is existentially contingent upon y). I was asking about the former. You keep avoiding that. At any rate:
So, as just outlined, on my view it is not only possible, but necessary to be able to think without language.
I thought you had the opposite opinion. If you think is possible to be able to think without language, then there's no need to go through all of this. We agree. I think it's possible to be able to think without language, too. I was merely giving you an example.

The thing about shared meaning I don't at all agree with, of course, but that's a separate issue.
That is not to be confused with all unspoken thought though. There is a difference between non-linguistic thought and unspoken thought. Both are unspoken. All non-linguistic thought is unspoken, but not all unspoken thought is non-linguistic.
I would say that all thought is unspoken, period. Speech isn't identical to thought. Speech is simply correlated with thought.

creativesoul
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by creativesoul » Mon Oct 24, 2016 12:35 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
creativesoul wrote:

...That is not to be confused with all unspoken thought though. There is a difference between non-linguistic thought and unspoken thought. Both are unspoken. All non-linguistic thought is unspoken, but not all unspoken thought is non-linguistic.


I would say that all thought is unspoken, period. Speech isn't identical to thought. Speech is simply correlated with thought.
Speech isn't identical to thought/belief. I agree. However, assuming sincerity in speech, all statements are statements of thought/belief. The 'identical' qualifier is utterly useless as a result of it's being untenable. Again, here you tend to use it as a means to differentiate where you want to use a difference. The problem is that the strictness you apply to the notion of being identical and being different makes talking about anything impossible unless you want to rename everything each and every time you want to discuss it, by virtue of no thing being identical over time. The same river scenario writ large.
Last edited by creativesoul on Mon Oct 24, 2016 12:48 am, edited 5 times in total.

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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by creativesoul » Mon Oct 24, 2016 12:44 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
creativesoul wrote:The content in that specific example of thinking is existentially contingent upon language. My earlier counter-argument to that example still applies.
There's a difference between content (such as the content of x) and existential contingency (a la x being existentially contingent on y--y is not identical to the content of x, even if x is existentially contingent upon y). I was asking about the former. You keep avoiding that...
Of course there's a difference between content of thought and the existential preconditions for that thought. It makes no sense whatsoever to say that a specific thought qualifies as thought without language if the content of that thought is existentially contingent upon language.

You're conflating unspoken thought with non-linguistic thought. As a direct consequence of neglecting to draw and maintain that crucial distinction you cannot further discriminate between linguistic and non-linguistic thought, because on your view all thought is unspoken, and apparently nothing unspoken is linguistic.

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Terrapin Station
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by Terrapin Station » Mon Oct 24, 2016 1:06 am

creativesoul wrote:Of course there's a difference between content of thought and the existential preconditions for that thought. It makes no sense whatsoever to say that a specific thought qualifies as thought without language if the content of that thought is existentially contingent upon language.
If of course there's a difference, then it doesn't follow that the existential conditions imply that the content contains the existential preconditions.

It's an existential precondition of a recorded vocal music that there are microphones. But that doesn't imply that the album somehow contains microphones.

creativesoul
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by creativesoul » Mon Oct 24, 2016 1:39 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
creativesoul wrote:Of course there's a difference between content of thought and the existential preconditions for that thought. It makes no sense whatsoever to say that a specific thought qualifies as thought without language if the content of that thought is existentially contingent upon language.
If of course there's a difference, then it doesn't follow that the existential conditions imply that the content contains the existential preconditions.

It's an existential precondition of a recorded vocal music that there are microphones. But that doesn't imply that the album somehow contains microphones.
That's not my argument.

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Terrapin Station
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by Terrapin Station » Mon Oct 24, 2016 1:44 am

creativesoul wrote:
Terrapin Station wrote:
creativesoul wrote:Of course there's a difference between content of thought and the existential preconditions for that thought. It makes no sense whatsoever to say that a specific thought qualifies as thought without language if the content of that thought is existentially contingent upon language.
If of course there's a difference, then it doesn't follow that the existential conditions imply that the content contains the existential preconditions.

It's an existential precondition of a recorded vocal music that there are microphones. But that doesn't imply that the album somehow contains microphones.
That's not my argument.
Why would you read my comment as an attempt to (re)state your argument?

creativesoul
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by creativesoul » Mon Oct 24, 2016 5:00 am

It makes no sense whatsoever to say that a specific thought qualifies as thought without language if the content of that thought is existentially contingent upon language.

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Terrapin Station
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by Terrapin Station » Mon Oct 24, 2016 12:47 pm

creativesoul wrote:It makes no sense whatsoever to say that a specific thought qualifies as thought without language if the content of that thought is existentially contingent upon language.
Does it make sense to say that a recording qualifies as a recording that doesn't literally contain microphones if the content of that recording is existentially contingent upon microphones?

creativesoul
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by creativesoul » Mon Oct 24, 2016 5:33 pm

That's not my argument. If it is a critique thereof then it fails miserably for it's a false analogy.

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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by creativesoul » Thu Oct 27, 2016 8:39 am

Terrapin Station wrote:
creativesoul wrote:It makes no sense whatsoever to say that a specific thought qualifies as thought without language if the content of that thought is existentially contingent upon language.
Does it make sense to say that a recording qualifies as a recording that doesn't literally contain microphones if the content of that recording is existentially contingent upon microphones?
Thoughts don't literally contain anything except correlations, associations, and/or connections drawn between objects of physiological sensory perception and/or oneself.

The analogy rightly applied would be as follows: It makes no sense whatsoever to say that a recording qualifies as a recording without microphones if the content of that recording is existentially contingent upon microphones.

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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by Terrapin Station » Thu Oct 27, 2016 11:50 am

creativesoul wrote:
Terrapin Station wrote:
creativesoul wrote:It makes no sense whatsoever to say that a specific thought qualifies as thought without language if the content of that thought is existentially contingent upon language.
Does it make sense to say that a recording qualifies as a recording that doesn't literally contain microphones if the content of that recording is existentially contingent upon microphones?
Thoughts don't literally contain anything except correlations, associations, and/or connections drawn between objects of physiological sensory perception and/or oneself.

The analogy rightly applied would be as follows: It makes no sense whatsoever to say that a recording qualifies as a recording without microphones if the content of that recording is existentially contingent upon microphones.
So you're using "without x" to simply refer to "not existentially contingent upon x"?

I'm using "without x" to refer to whether it contains x (well, or if it's accompanied by x). Something is with x if it contains (is accompanied by) x, and without x if it does not contain (is not accompanied by) x.

Re your comment "Thoughts don't literally contain anything except . . .," would you then say that no thought literally contains language?

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