Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

What did you say? And what did you mean by it?

Moderators: AMod, iMod

User avatar
RCSaunders
Posts: 2085
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:42 pm
Contact:

Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by RCSaunders »

Belinda wrote: Thu Aug 13, 2020 10:56 pm
RCSaunders wrote: Thu Aug 13, 2020 4:24 pm
Belinda wrote: Thu Aug 13, 2020 8:39 am

I try to falsify your "Propositions cannot be formed with images, only with concepts,and all real knowledge is held in the form of propositions." and I cannot falsify your meta-proposition.

What I can do is include in your meta-proposition that maps, poems, pictures, sculptures, novels, motor cars,sparking plugs, trained dogs, wheels, dairy cows ,and vacuum cleaners are also propositions. Any artefact is proposed by at least one active agent for consideration as useful, beautiful, true, or good. I'd exclude from the category of 'propositions' wild animals,wild plants, and human beings.

Joke artefacts such as Heath Robinson machines which portray absurd propositions are funny because of the element of truth they contain.The truth they contain is that some machines are not viable propositions.

Regarding human beings as propositions, if anyone proposes human beings must be for such and such a purpose that proposition is immoral because human beings are not means to ends.For instance the Nazis in Germany proposed women were for Kinder, Kuche, Kirche and the immorality was that women were thus designated as means to ends.
The word, "proposition," has several different definitions, even in philosophy. When I use the word proposition in epistemology I am referring to one explicit definition, "a verbal statement that asserts something about something else." From my article, "Epistemology, Propositions":
The essential form of any proposition consists of three elements, a subject (the something being asserted about), a predicate (the something being asserted) and a copula (which specifies the exact relationship between the subject and predicate). In the proposition, "coffee is a beverage," the terms are, "coffee," "is," and "a beverage." "Coffee," is the subject, "a beverage," is the predicate, and "is" is the copula.
You do not have to mean by, "proposition," what I mean by proposition, but if you are going to question what I say about propositions and knowledge it must be in terms of what I mean by propositions. If you want to question my view of propositions, that's fine too, so long as you understand what I am really saying.
I think we understand the same by 'proposition' : it's predicating something about a subject.
Actually we don't. You think, "Any artifact is proposed by at least one active agent for consideration as useful, beautiful, true, or good," includes organisms other than human beings. I do not.

But since you do and cannot see any fundamental difference between all other organisms and human beings (except as a matter of degree) why would you, "exclude from the category of 'propositions' wild animals, wild plants, and human beings." No other animal excludes any other animal or plant as useful to itself, for food, for example, and if human beings are just other animals, why should they?

It seems to me, if you see nothing wrong with all other animals eating each other and any plant they like, even enslaving each other the way ants enslave aphids, to exclude human beings from that privilege implies some fundamental difference between human beings and the other animals.
Belinda
Posts: 3848
Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2016 10:13 am

Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by Belinda »

RCSaunders wrote: Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:48 pm
Belinda wrote: Thu Aug 13, 2020 10:56 pm
RCSaunders wrote: Thu Aug 13, 2020 4:24 pm
The word, "proposition," has several different definitions, even in philosophy. When I use the word proposition in epistemology I am referring to one explicit definition, "a verbal statement that asserts something about something else." From my article, "Epistemology, Propositions":



You do not have to mean by, "proposition," what I mean by proposition, but if you are going to question what I say about propositions and knowledge it must be in terms of what I mean by propositions. If you want to question my view of propositions, that's fine too, so long as you understand what I am really saying.
I think we understand the same by 'proposition' : it's predicating something about a subject.
Actually we don't. You think, "Any artifact is proposed by at least one active agent for consideration as useful, beautiful, true, or good," includes organisms other than human beings. I do not.

But since you do and cannot see any fundamental difference between all other organisms and human beings (except as a matter of degree) why would you, "exclude from the category of 'propositions' wild animals, wild plants, and human beings." No other animal excludes any other animal or plant as useful to itself, for food, for example, and if human beings are just other animals, why should they?

It seems to me, if you see nothing wrong with all other animals eating each other and any plant they like, even enslaving each other the way ants enslave aphids, to exclude human beings from that privilege implies some fundamental difference between human beings and the other animals.
We are social but not social like ants are social. Ants can't be creative as they behave instinctively. We can be creative because we evolve by means of our cultures of practice and belief. Cultures are not fixed but evolve in accordance with changes in climate and geography that affect our means of subsistence. The means by which cultures change are violent colonisation, or (exclusive 'or')
exchange of ideas.

Some social animals besides humans have cultures, notably canines and primates.The culture difference between them and us is a difference of degree. Animals that have cultures that persist down the generations have to be animals that are capable of learning, and in the case of the highly evolved cultures of humans, means of recording that learning.Human language is peculiarly suited to recording learned techniques and information, and also to the productive exchange of ideas.

The key difference between human language and communication between individuals of other species is human language uses symbols. Humans put into symbolic form complex ideas . A symbolic form can be a portmanteau label for a complex of ideas.

We do resemble ants in the efficiency of cooperative organisations such as capitalism, again a difference of degree.
User avatar
RCSaunders
Posts: 2085
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:42 pm
Contact:

Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by RCSaunders »

Belinda wrote: Fri Aug 14, 2020 2:43 pm
RCSaunders wrote: Fri Aug 14, 2020 1:48 pm
Belinda wrote: Thu Aug 13, 2020 10:56 pm
I think we understand the same by 'proposition' : it's predicating something about a subject.
Actually we don't. You think, "Any artifact is proposed by at least one active agent for consideration as useful, beautiful, true, or good," includes organisms other than human beings. I do not.

But since you do and cannot see any fundamental difference between all other organisms and human beings (except as a matter of degree) why would you, "exclude from the category of 'propositions' wild animals, wild plants, and human beings." No other animal excludes any other animal or plant as useful to itself, for food, for example, and if human beings are just other animals, why should they?

It seems to me, if you see nothing wrong with all other animals eating each other and any plant they like, even enslaving each other the way ants enslave aphids, to exclude human beings from that privilege implies some fundamental difference between human beings and the other animals.
We are social but not social like ants are social. Ants can't be creative as they behave instinctively. We can be creative because we evolve by means of our cultures of practice and belief. Cultures are not fixed but evolve in accordance with changes in climate and geography that affect our means of subsistence. The means by which cultures change are violent colonisation, or (exclusive 'or')
exchange of ideas.

Some social animals besides humans have cultures, notably canines and primates.The culture difference between them and us is a difference of degree. Animals that have cultures that persist down the generations have to be animals that are capable of learning, and in the case of the highly evolved cultures of humans, means of recording that learning.Human language is peculiarly suited to recording learned techniques and information, and also to the productive exchange of ideas.

The key difference between human language and communication between individuals of other species is human language uses symbols. Humans put into symbolic form complex ideas . A symbolic form can be a portmanteau label for a complex of ideas.

We do resemble ants in the efficiency of cooperative organisations such as capitalism, again a difference of degree.
After all your anthropomorphizing of animals (they have cultures, like Disney characters) and so-called post-modernist social conditioning nonsense you still evaded the primary question. If it is not wrong for any other animals to eat other animals and not wrong for any other animal to eat whatever grows, why is it wrong for human beings to eat other animals and anything that grows. If it is not wrong for a shark to eat a man, why is it wrong for a man to eat a shark? If it is not wrong for a chimpanzee to rape infants and kill rivals why is it wrong for a human to do those things if their difference is only a matter of degrees. How many degrees of difference does it take before a thing becomes a unique kind of existent? Is a horse just an extreme variation of an amoeba, only different by degrees?

[When I was very young (pre-teen and early teens) I earned a survival merit badge (living entirely off the land for a week) and ate all the things you believe are wrong. Part of my military training for my particular service required wilderness survival, which would have been impossible by your rules. (I am, by the way both anti-war and anti-military.) Throughout most of my life, one great pleasure has been my ability to forage for food in almost any environment, both because I enjoy eating almost everything and because I like knowing I won't starve under almost any circumstance. I even eat mangda (giant Thai beetles) and salt water snails, conk, escargot, and periwinkles. (I am not a survivalist or one of those absurd, "preppers," or, "survivalists." Do you have them where you are?) Do you really think my enjoying fresh brook trout, wild nuts, fruit, greens, garlic, onions, and watercress, or digging up wild ginger or horseradish is being immoral?]
gaffo
Posts: 3396
Joined: Mon Nov 27, 2017 3:15 am

Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by gaffo »

RCSaunders wrote: Thu Aug 13, 2020 2:16 am
gaffo wrote: Tue Aug 11, 2020 1:14 am
RCSaunders wrote: Wed Jul 01, 2020 3:56 pm
What I mean by thinking is the ability to verbally explain, to oneself or others, what one is thinking and what it means. If your dog or cat can explain what it thinks to you, than it can think. So, you can answer your own question.

If you mean something else by thinking, like just anything that goes on in one's consciousness, we do not mean the same thing by thinking.
language is not need to think, as a kid (5 yrs and younger) i thought visually. i assume higher animals do the same.

language serves to catagorize. this is like that


nothing more.
You can call anything you like thinking--imagination, feelings, dreams, day-dreams, or anything else you consciously experience. If you are going to call all those things, or any of them thinking, you will need another word to identify the process of mentally asking and answering questions, make judgments, and creating new concepts verbally, which is what is meant by reason (or thinking) in epistemology.
my mind was pointed to conscienceness.
Advocate
Posts: 822
Joined: Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:27 am
Contact:

Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by Advocate »

Hegel wrote: Sat Sep 24, 2016 7:17 am Hi everyone ..

this is my first post in this beautiful Forum, and i think these days of the idea that begin with this question:

Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

for example that deaf people use visually way to think which use no language , and that leads another question:

is the languages a thinking tool or a Communication tool ?
In my experience, no. But Temple Grandin, for one, claims to be a purely visual thinker, and i don't see why it's impossible even though i can't wrap my own mind around it.
raw_thought
Posts: 1775
Joined: Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:16 pm
Location: trapped inside a hominid skull

Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by raw_thought »

I know how to move my fingers. Can I explain in language how I do it? NO! If I say, " send electrical impulses to your fingers" that is no help. The brain sorts over 500 million nerve messages a second. I cannot sort 500 million of anything in a second. A manual will not help. Since sorting nerve messages is how the brain thinks , and I cannot do that, I am not smart enough to think my own thoughts! Even if I have a manual ( written in language )!
User avatar
RCSaunders
Posts: 2085
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:42 pm
Contact:

Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by RCSaunders »

raw_thought wrote: Sat Sep 12, 2020 3:04 pmI am not smart enough to think my own thoughts!
Can't disagree with that.
User avatar
Immanuel Can
Posts: 8762
Joined: Wed Sep 25, 2013 4:42 pm

Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by Immanuel Can »

It depends on what one means by "think."

If fish, ants and chimpanzees "think," then I see no reason why human beings should be said to be incapable of such rudimentary operations. But do they rise to the level of what we mean by "thinking." Indeed, are they even on the same continuum as what you and I call "thinking"?

A key element of human cognition that raises it far above all animal cognition is an ability called "metacognition." That is, human beings can think about the fact that they are thinking. They can be conscious of, and reflective on, their own critical and analytical processes. And even, as at this moment, be meta-metacognitive: for we are now thinking about the fact that we are thinking about thinking.

This is no small difference. In fact, it's a qualitative difference, not merely a quantitative one. For despite all our anthropomorphizing, animals do not have any genuine "culture." (By "genuine," I mean, "more than merely metaphorical"). Fish don't. Ants don't. Even chimpanzees or dolphins, two reputedly very smart animals, do not have a culture. All they have is more developed instincts and cognitions, so they can solve more complex tasks than can fish or paramecia. But they have zero in the way of culture.

Want proof of that? Let us imagine that, say, chimps had 1/1,000th of the culture that human beings have. Or even 1/1,000,000th of it. Or any fragment of it. If that were so, then over the billions of years of evolution that are alleged, chimps should have accumulated an incredible culture of their own. Not only rudimentary instincts and problem solving, but an accumulating body of knowledge, artifacts, records, teachings, and so on. Even if we say that chimps had only a billionth of the cultural capacity of humans, by now they ought to have something we could detect. After the alleged 3.7 billion years that Wikipedia, for example, says life has existed, there's no way human beings should be the only creatures that have a culture...if ANY other creature had ANY such potential at all.

But we are. There is no evidence that chimps, or fish, or paramecia, or dolphins accumulate any knowledge for subsequent generations, produce any accumulating stock of knowledge or artifacts at all, have any genuine mythology, a basic religion..or anything that shows a heritage at all. They have just genetics and just instincts, and just basic cognitions.

So metacognitions are uniquely human. And they are what enable genuine culture to exist and grow. Animals have none of that.

Now, back to the basic question: "Is it possible to think without language?"

If "think" doesn't include metacognition, then yes.

If "think" includes metacognition, along with related things like self-awareness and reflectivity, then no. It is not possible to "think" genuinely without using language.
raw_thought
Posts: 1775
Joined: Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:16 pm
Location: trapped inside a hominid skull

Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by raw_thought »

You can cause thoughts without thinking them. I cannot sort all the nerve messages that create my thoughts.
raw_thought
Posts: 1775
Joined: Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:16 pm
Location: trapped inside a hominid skull

Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by raw_thought »

From a totally physicalist position, it is possible to create thoughts without language. We do it all the time. My joke that I am not smart enough to think my own thoughts is actually true and you are not smart enough to think your own thoughts either. If you consciously caused the creation of your thoughts you would have to consciously sort over 50 million nerve messages a second. No one can do that!
User avatar
RCSaunders
Posts: 2085
Joined: Tue Jul 17, 2018 9:42 pm
Contact:

Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by RCSaunders »

raw_thought wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:58 pm You can cause thoughts without thinking them.
What is a, "thought?"
Advocate
Posts: 822
Joined: Tue Sep 12, 2017 9:27 am
Contact:

Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by Advocate »

Unless you're raised with no socializing, as sadly has happened with several children we know of, you need language to communicate. Even wolf-raised children have it. But those mute children also had thoughts, n'est-se pas?
Belinda
Posts: 3848
Joined: Fri Aug 26, 2016 10:13 am

Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by Belinda »

Advocate wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 3:34 pm Unless you're raised with no socializing, as sadly has happened with several children we know of, you need language to communicate. Even wolf-raised children have it. But those mute children also had thoughts, n'est-se pas?
Abstract ideas are impossible without a symbolic system to mediate them.
raw_thought
Posts: 1775
Joined: Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:16 pm
Location: trapped inside a hominid skull

Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by raw_thought »

RCSaunders wrote: Wed Sep 16, 2020 2:09 pm
raw_thought wrote: Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:58 pm You can cause thoughts without thinking them.
What is a, "thought?"
A conscious proposition.
raw_thought
Posts: 1775
Joined: Sat Mar 21, 2015 1:16 pm
Location: trapped inside a hominid skull

Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by raw_thought »

We do not consciously decide what we think about. 1. You cannot be conscious of a thought before you think it. 2. Cause always precedes effect. 3. Therefore you cannot consciously cause your thoughts. Here is an analogy to make my argument clearer. You cannot take a photo of something before it exists. Obviously, free will is a logical absurdity, since we cannot even cause our own thoughts.
Post Reply