Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?
Posted: Fri Nov 02, 2018 8:06 am
For the discussion of all things philosophical, especially articles in the magazine Philosophy Now.
So you can't determine if it is language or not at present? Therefore you can't determine if it's meaningful?
The point I am making is that if I am the one who invented the MEANING of the word 'grobmunf' (and I did!) then I am the only one who understands that meaning. Therefore it's not (yet) language. In order to make it language (by your own criteria) I have to TEACH at least one other person the MEANING of 'grobmunf'.TimeSeeker wrote: ↑Fri Nov 02, 2018 8:07 amSo you can't determine if it is language or not at present? Therefore you can't determine if it's meaningful?
Again... ok. So what?TimeSeeker wrote: ↑Fri Nov 02, 2018 8:06 am
I am saying that language (words) are meaningles in a vacuum. Words on paper contain no meaning!
Words can have intended meaning (from perspective of the person uttering them).
Words can have interpreted meaning (from the perspective of the person interpreting them).
Meaning is not IN the word.
There are multiple ways to teach someone the meaning of a word. All of them involve correlations between the word and something else.TimeSeeker wrote: ↑Fri Nov 02, 2018 8:11 am
The point I am making is that if I am the one who invented the MEANING of the word 'grobmunf' (and I did!) then I am the only one who understands that meaning. Therefore it's not (yet) language. In order to make it language (by your own criteria) I have to TEACH at least one other person the MEANING of 'grobmunf'.
So by the criterion of correlation what do you correlate the meaning of the word 'language' with?
When I wrote "inventing language allows expression" I was following your lead. That's the first step in considering another's position. I was merely using what you had already invoked... the notion of inventing language. That said...TimeSeeker wrote: ↑Fri Nov 02, 2018 8:28 am You said: Inventing language allows expression.
You also said: Language requires shared meaning.
You also said: All language is meaningful.
I invented "grobmunf".
You admitted that you can't determine if it's language or not.
So - did I invent language or not? If 'grobmunf' is not language then what is it?
If 'grobmunf' is not language then am I expressing myself?
The question is ill-formed. On my view, one does not correlate meaning. Meaningful thought/belief is the product of drawing correlation(s) between different things.TimeSeeker wrote: ↑Fri Nov 02, 2018 8:21 amSo by the criterion of correlation what do you correlate the meaning of the word 'language' with?
What do you correlate the meaning of the word 'meaning' with?
That's not true. I've drawn no such lines. There is a distinction to be drawn and maintained between meaning and language. The latter is always existentially dependent upon the former, but not the other way around. I've already been clearly arguing for exactly how that's the case.TimeSeeker wrote: ↑Fri Nov 02, 2018 7:58 amMy point is that where you have drawn impermeable lines between the criteria for meaning and language I have not.
I reject this. In fact, you yourself have said that you've expressed "grobmunf" despite the fact that only you know what it means. So... you've reached incoherency. How do you reconcile this apparent self-contradiction?
I do not think that this is relevant here. Some 'knowing' is nothing more than innate ability to do something or other. Therefore, some 'knowing' does not include nor require thinking...Walker wrote: ↑Fri Nov 02, 2018 12:45 pm Here’s a good example of knowing without language.
First the knowing which doesn't require language.
Then, the thinking about the knowing, which does require language.
You just know that something here is fishy.
Body language, the eyes, the chutzpah, the intellectual vacuity …
Much before that! I meant the beginning for all of us! So, I had said the following:TimeSeeker wrote: ↑Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:07 am Not sure where you study, but in my field (real-world problem solving) step 1 is conceptualising the problem. Step 2 is asking why it is a problem. And MAYBE step 3 is defining the problem. Definitions/language are not important until you start the collaborative process.
Before any of us learn how to read and write, we first learn how to speak. We come to know of the meaning of the names of objects (called nouns in language) through the ostensive definition.
Prof. Noam Chomsky wrote:(...) But there is something about human children that gets them to grow the language that’s roughly that of their peers. It is a very rich system. (…) They [the children] don’t try, they cannot prevent themselves from doing it, and they cannot make it happen. The parents can enrich [that]. Anyone who has a two year old, knows that the kid is running around all over the place and trying to find out what the name of everything is. [The child asking:] what’s that, what’s that, what’s that! Then you [the parents] can help them and you can read to the children and show them pictures, and they are all fascinated with it.
There are periods of very rapid language growth [in children], where you just cannot satiate the curiosity fast enough. (Al page interjects: “it’s amazing” and Noam responds and continues) It is unbelievable in fact. What actually happens is really astonishing. Forget the structure of language which is complicated enough, but just take vocabulary acquisition, the simplest part. At peak periods of acquisition of vocabulary, i.e. learning new words, children are picking them up at may be the rate of 1 an hour or something. Which means that they are essentially learning a new word on one exposure!
But if you think what it means to learn a word on one exposure…! The way to understand how amazing an achievement this is, is to try to define a word. Suppose you have an organism that was not equipped to learn the words of human language and you really had to teach it those words by training. First you will have to define a word. What is the meaning of table, for instance? Nobody can do that.
But you see, what we call a definition are not definitions; they are just hints. If you take the Oxford English dictionary, the one you read with a magnifying glass. And they give you a long detail thing which they call a definition of a word. In fact, it is very far from the definition of a word. It is a few hints that a person who already knows the concept can use to understand what is going on. But remember that the child is picking that up, not from the Oxford dictionary with its whole array of hints. But the child is picking that up from seeing it used once or twice. Now that can only mean one thing, it can only mean that the concept itself, in all of its richness and complexities, is somehow sitting there, waiting to have a sound associated with it. Now it cannot be quite true but something very much like that is probably true. That’s why, you and I, will have essentially the same concept of table, and the same concept of person, and nation, and all sorts of things; and not complicated things, I mean really simple things like person for instance, or thing. We all have that, even though we all have very limited experience, because basically we started with those concepts.(End of interview)
This is just semantics and linguistics.
Was Kant and Wittgenstein trying to narrate metaphysics? I do not think so. They were openly against metaphysics. Moreover, for Wittgenstein, metaphysics was just sheer nonsense. And the aim of the Tractatus itself was an attempt to overcome by the analysis of language what he perceived as the nonsense of metaphysics. For Kant, below is an excerpt from an entry from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:TimeSeeker wrote: ↑Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:07 amThey were both trying to narrate metaphysics.Averroes wrote: ↑Thu Nov 01, 2018 9:49 am Essentially, both Kant and Wittgenstein were saying the same thing as quoted above even though they were speaking from different logical frameworks separated by about a century. Wittgenstein was speaking from the Fregean-Russellian logical framework and Kant was speaking from the Aristotelian logical framework. There are important differences between these logical frameworks. The Frege system is more powerful than the Aristotelian system. Modern logic is the logic developed by Frege and Russell. However, despite their differences, non of these logical frameworks made a thought a non-thought!
Of all the philosophers, these two (along with Hume) are perhaps the most well-known anti-metaphysics! But anyway, I am not talking about metaphysics here, my aim on this thread was solely semantics and linguistics.Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy wrote:A large part of Kant’s work addresses the question “What can we know?” The answer, if it can be stated simply, is that our knowledge is constrained to mathematics and the science of the natural, empirical world. It is impossible, Kant argues, to extend knowledge to the supersensible realm of speculative metaphysics. The reason that knowledge has these constraints, Kant argues, is that the mind plays an active role in constituting the features of experience and limiting the mind’s access only to the empirical realm of space and time. https://www.iep.utm.edu/kantmeta/
Now, notice how you have phrased the quotation above itself. You said, “...things that go on in my head...”. You said “things” and not thoughts! And that is correct!
I do not think that the above quotation is a wise statement. For again, if not a single thought that is expressed in language can be original, then that would imply that there would be no original thought that has been expressed throughout known human history! And among the consequences, that would make the laws on plagiarism absurd! I don’t think many people will agree with that either. But, anyway, I respect your opinion even though I do not share it.
Interesting video. Dr Feynman says something very interesting in that video:TimeSeeker wrote: ↑Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:07 amHere is a simple example. Do you know how to count? Does the word/process of "counting" mean the same thing to both of us?
Apparently not: https://youtu.be/Cj4y0EUlU-Y
This is a beautiful speech. Thoughts, for ordinary people (like myself and Dr Feynman, according to himself), do not come out of our heads just like that! We have to work hard, think and study hard, and practice a lot to acquire knowledge in our fields. We do not become a scientist, an engineer, a mathematician or a philosopher by being lazy. That’s it! There is nothing more to add to that!Dr Feynman wrote:You asked me if an ordinary person by studying hard, would get to be able to imagine these things like I imagine them? Of course. I was an ordinary person who studied hard. There is no miracle people. It just happened they got interested in these things, and they learned all this stuff. They are just people. There is no talent or special miracle or ability to understand quantum mechanics or miracle ability to imagine electromagnetic fields that comes without practice and reading and learning and study. So, if you say...you take an ordinary person who is willing to devote a great deal of time and study and work and thinking and mathematics and time then he’s become a scientist.
So you wrote: “grobmunf,” and you could just as well have written some Chinese and it would not have made any difference to me! The interesting question now is: Is “grobmunf” a meaningful proposition for you? If yes, then you have expressed a thought which, however, I do not understand as I do not speak that language! If not, then it is just gibberish for both of us! Either way, you have not demonstrated the possibility of a thought that cannot be expressed in language! And, as I already demonstrated, a thought that cannot be expressed in language is a contradiction. And certainly you cannot show it’s possibility by writing something, gibberish or not!
Expressed - in language - by whom, the thinking/believing creature or someone else taking account of the thinking/believing creature's thought/belief?
So we can agree that meaning is subjective? I am good with that. It further means you are necessarily adopting the 1st person perspective. Which leaves us with the final problem. WHOSE 1st person perspective? Yours or mine?creativesoul wrote: ↑Sat Nov 03, 2018 3:55 am That's not true. I've drawn no such lines. There is a distinction to be drawn and maintained between meaning and language. The latter is always existentially dependent upon the former, but not the other way around. I've already been clearly arguing for exactly how that's the case.
It's not contradictory from my perspective. It's contradictory from your perspective. So I think the onus is on you to explain why you think it's a contradiction?creativesoul wrote: ↑Sat Nov 03, 2018 3:55 amI reject this. In fact, you yourself have said that you've expressed "grobmunf" despite the fact that only you know what it means. So... you've reached incoherency. How do you reconcile this apparent self-contradiction?