Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

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Trajk Logik
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by Trajk Logik »

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Man_Without_Words

This is a story about a deaf man that never learned any language, including sign language, until he was 27. If he wasn't able to think prior to learning a language, then how did he feed, dress, and take care of himself?

How can we learn a language at all if we don't think prior to learning it?

Language is simply visual scribbles and sounds in the air. We must be able to see and hear and to be able to organize our thoughts in order to make any sense of, and to be able to distinguish between, different visuals and sounds.
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by -1- »

The question would be self-answering if worded thus: "Is thinking in words and sentences possible without knowing even one language?"

Ha.
Eodnhoj7
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by Eodnhoj7 »

Trajk Logik wrote: Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:58 pm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Man_Without_Words

This is a story about a deaf man that never learned any language, including sign language, until he was 27. If he wasn't able to think prior to learning a language, then how did he feed, dress, and take care of himself?

How can we learn a language at all if we don't think prior to learning it?

Language is simply visual scribbles and sounds in the air. We must be able to see and hear and to be able to organize our thoughts in order to make any sense of, and to be able to distinguish between, different visuals and sounds.
Language is symbolism, with symbolism itself not limited to strict hearing, or even vision, alone but the other senses: touch, taste, smell, intuition.

If we look at the senses, what they observe are different dimensions of a spatial reality.

Sight with depth, color (light waves), etc.

Hearing with sound waves that reflect through structure and space.

Touch with smoothness/coarseness, density, etc.

Taste with the elements that form physical structures (vitamins, minerals, organic/non-organic, etc.) with the elements themselves formed by bonds.

Smell as an extension of taste (or vice versa) relative to saturated air (or less dense material).

Intuition as the summation of the sensory experience along with inherent temporal foresight (the observance of time, ie predicting events).

In these respects, the senses observe different dimensions in which space manifests itself. Furthermore the signs act as median points within space to further phenomena. One could view language, under these premises, as strictly a "sensory symbolism" that observes phenomena through its varying spatial dimensions. These phenomena, in themselves, act as symbols (or axioms) for further signs, etc.
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Trajk Logik
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by Trajk Logik »

Eodnhoj7 wrote: Sat Jan 20, 2018 12:55 am
Trajk Logik wrote: Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:58 pm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Man_Without_Words

This is a story about a deaf man that never learned any language, including sign language, until he was 27. If he wasn't able to think prior to learning a language, then how did he feed, dress, and take care of himself?

How can we learn a language at all if we don't think prior to learning it?

Language is simply visual scribbles and sounds in the air. We must be able to see and hear and to be able to organize our thoughts in order to make any sense of, and to be able to distinguish between, different visuals and sounds.
Language is symbolism, with symbolism itself not limited to strict hearing, or even vision, alone but the other senses: touch, taste, smell, intuition.

If we look at the senses, what they observe are different dimensions of a spatial reality.

Sight with depth, color (light waves), etc.

Hearing with sound waves that reflect through structure and space.

Touch with smoothness/coarseness, density, etc.

Taste with the elements that form physical structures (vitamins, minerals, organic/non-organic, etc.) with the elements themselves formed by bonds.

Smell as an extension of taste (or vice versa) relative to saturated air (or less dense material).

Intuition as the summation of the sensory experience along with inherent temporal foresight (the observance of time, ie predicting events).

In these respects, the senses observe different dimensions in which space manifests itself. Furthermore the signs act as median points within space to further phenomena. One could view language, under these premises, as strictly a "sensory symbolism" that observes phenomena through its varying spatial dimensions. These phenomena, in themselves, act as symbols (or axioms) for further signs, etc.
I mostly agree. Language comes in the form of braille for blind people that use their sense of touch to read, so yes, language is using sensory representations to symbolize more general concepts which are just related, or amalgams of other, sensory experiences.

I'm not sure what you really mean by "In these respects, the senses observe different dimensions in which space manifests itself." Our various senses do provide us different information about the same thing, but they also tend to overlap and provide us the same information, but in different forms. In this sense, "space" (I'm not sure if that is an appropriate term) doesn't manifest itself in different dimensions. It's just that the form the information takes in our minds as provided by each sensory organ varies.

For example, say you have an injury on your back. I can see your injury but can't feel it. You can feel it, but can't see it. We are both informed of your injury via different sensory organs. I could even say that I have more information about your injury than you do because I can see it and vision provides us with the most detailed information about the world, than any of our other senses. You would even be inclined to ask, "How bad does it look?" -knowing that I have access to more information than you do about your injury. That is why we tend to think that the world is as it appears visually, because it is so detailed and informative. But vision is just a particular way of modeling the world. Other animals' sensory organs provide different degrees of information. Dogs may think that the world is the way it smells, rather than how it looks. Having our sensory organs provide us with overlapping information is very useful as it helps us confirm what one sense is telling us. It provides fault tolerance against sensory illusions.
Averroes
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by Averroes »

Trajk Logik wrote: Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:58 pm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Man_Without_Words

This is a story about a deaf man that never learned any language, including sign language, until he was 27. If he wasn't able to think prior to learning a language, then how did he feed, dress, and take care of himself?

How can we learn a language at all if we don't think prior to learning it?

Language is simply visual scribbles and sounds in the air. We must be able to see and hear and to be able to organize our thoughts in order to make any sense of, and to be able to distinguish between, different visuals and sounds.
Interesting example. Concerning the topic of this thread, I think Chomsky is right on this, and this is the view of mainstream linguistics, that language is innate. You made an interesting observation by asking the question: "How can we learn a language at all if we don't think prior to learning it?"
I have taken that question as a rhetorical question. Now if one were to follow this line of reasoning through, then it becomes apparent that language is innate. For if it is necessary for one to be able to think before using language, then language cannot be learned for thinking is through concepts, and if these were not learned, (I.e. prior to acquiring the language of our surrounding), then these concepts must be innate. In a nutshell, this is what Chomsky and modern linguists think about it. And there is an emormous amount of empirical evidence which back this view. Modern linguistics takes language to be innate. Much like babies are born with sight, touch, smell etc., they are also born with language. And as their sense organs develop as they grow up, so too they experience language growth (Chomsky used that expression in one of his interviews).
Eodnhoj7
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by Eodnhoj7 »

Trajk Logik wrote: Tue Jan 23, 2018 3:05 pm
Eodnhoj7 wrote: Sat Jan 20, 2018 12:55 am
Trajk Logik wrote: Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:58 pm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Man_Without_Words

This is a story about a deaf man that never learned any language, including sign language, until he was 27. If he wasn't able to think prior to learning a language, then how did he feed, dress, and take care of himself?

How can we learn a language at all if we don't think prior to learning it?

Language is simply visual scribbles and sounds in the air. We must be able to see and hear and to be able to organize our thoughts in order to make any sense of, and to be able to distinguish between, different visuals and sounds.
Language is symbolism, with symbolism itself not limited to strict hearing, or even vision, alone but the other senses: touch, taste, smell, intuition.

If we look at the senses, what they observe are different dimensions of a spatial reality.

Sight with depth, color (light waves), etc.

Hearing with sound waves that reflect through structure and space.

Touch with smoothness/coarseness, density, etc.

Taste with the elements that form physical structures (vitamins, minerals, organic/non-organic, etc.) with the elements themselves formed by bonds.

Smell as an extension of taste (or vice versa) relative to saturated air (or less dense material).

Intuition as the summation of the sensory experience along with inherent temporal foresight (the observance of time, ie predicting events).

In these respects, the senses observe different dimensions in which space manifests itself. Furthermore the signs act as median points within space to further phenomena. One could view language, under these premises, as strictly a "sensory symbolism" that observes phenomena through its varying spatial dimensions. These phenomena, in themselves, act as symbols (or axioms) for further signs, etc.
I mostly agree. Language comes in the form of braille for blind people that use their sense of touch to read, so yes, language is using sensory representations to symbolize more general concepts which are just related, or amalgams of other, sensory experiences.

I'm not sure what you really mean by "In these respects, the senses observe different dimensions in which space manifests itself." Our various senses do provide us different information about the same thing, but they also tend to overlap and provide us the same information, but in different forms. In this sense, "space" (I'm not sure if that is an appropriate term) doesn't manifest itself in different dimensions. It's just that the form the information takes in our minds as provided by each sensory organ varies.

Each sense observes a different dimension of reality.

For example, say you have an injury on your back. I can see your injury but can't feel it. You can feel it, but can't see it. We are both informed of your injury via different sensory organs. I could even say that I have more information about your injury than you do because I can see it and vision provides us with the most detailed information about the world, than any of our other senses. You would even be inclined to ask, "How bad does it look?" -knowing that I have access to more information than you do about your injury. That is why we tend to think that the world is as it appears visually, because it is so detailed and informative. But vision is just a particular way of modeling the world. Other animals' sensory organs provide different degrees of information. Dogs may think that the world is the way it smells, rather than how it looks. Having our sensory organs provide us with overlapping information is very useful as it helps us confirm what one sense is telling us. It provides fault tolerance against sensory illusions.
gaffo
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by gaffo »

attofishpi wrote: Sat Jan 13, 2018 1:41 pm
Hegel wrote: Sat Sep 24, 2016 7:17 am Is It Possible To Think Without Language?
Do animals think?
yes on one level.
creativesoul
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by creativesoul »

Averroes wrote: Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:54 pm
Trajk Logik wrote: Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:58 pm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Man_Without_Words

This is a story about a deaf man that never learned any language, including sign language, until he was 27. If he wasn't able to think prior to learning a language, then how did he feed, dress, and take care of himself?

How can we learn a language at all if we don't think prior to learning it?

Language is simply visual scribbles and sounds in the air. We must be able to see and hear and to be able to organize our thoughts in order to make any sense of, and to be able to distinguish between, different visuals and sounds.
Interesting example. Concerning the topic of this thread, I think Chomsky is right on this, and this is the view of mainstream linguistics, that language is innate. You made an interesting observation by asking the question: "How can we learn a language at all if we don't think prior to learning it?"
I have taken that question as a rhetorical question. Now if one were to follow this line of reasoning through, then it becomes apparent that language is innate. For if it is necessary for one to be able to think before using language, then language cannot be learned for thinking is through concepts, and if these were not learned, (I.e. prior to acquiring the language of our surrounding), then these concepts must be innate. In a nutshell, this is what Chomsky and modern linguists think about it. And there is an emormous amount of empirical evidence which back this view. Modern linguistics takes language to be innate. Much like babies are born with sight, touch, smell etc., they are also born with language. And as their sense organs develop as they grow up, so too they experience language growth (Chomsky used that expression in one of his interviews).
Not all thinking is through language concepts. Chomsky is working from an impoverished notion of thought/belief. Seems he also fails to be able to distinguish between our talk and what we're talking about. The root problem is that he - just like nearly everybody else in philosophy proper - fails to draw and maintain the crucial distinction between thought/belief and thinking about thought/belief... No surprise here...
creativesoul
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by creativesoul »

All language consists of predication. All predication consists of correlations. Not all correlation is predication. All thought/belief is meaningful to the thinking/believing creature. All meaning is attributed. All attribution of meaning is existentially dependent upon something to become sign/symbol, something to become significant/symbolized, and a creature capable of drawing correlation between them. All meaningful correlation is thought/belief formation. Some meaningful correlation is not existentially dependent upon predication.

Language is not necessary for thought/belief. Thought/belief is necessary for language.

:mrgreen:
Last edited by creativesoul on Sat Oct 27, 2018 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Davyboi
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by Davyboi »

I am new to this forum, and have only a basic understanding of how I perceive things, my ideas etc..so please don't be to harsh on my views...I am still learning.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO THINK WITHOUT LANGUAGE?
I think it is, language is just an expression of certain emotions or responses,
creativesoul
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by creativesoul »

An earlier discussion between Terrapin and myself showed some problems with ambiguity in the OP question. It amounts to multiple meanings regarding what counts as being "without language". One can easily say that they think about all sorts of stuff, and because they never speak these thoughts out loud that they are thinking without language. That seems reasonable enough. However, it misses the point entirely. Being without language is not equivalent to thinking to one's self. Being without language is a state of existential affairs. Being without language is existing without language. Existing independently of language.

Can thought be what it is without language? Can this or that thought exist if it were the case that there was no language... ever?

These sorts of questions are not about whether one can think without speaking, they're about whether or not the thoughts themselves are existentially dependent upon language. Is the content of thought existentially dependent upon language? The question, by my lights, is about existential dependency, and elemental constituency.


What approach is best to answer these sorts of questions? Here's one...

If there is such a thing as non-linguistic thought/belief... if it is actually the case that animals without language can think and believe stuff, then it would not just be possible to think without language, it would be the case that some thought and belief were not existentially dependent upon language. If non-linguistic beasties think and believe then not all thought and belief consists of language. How do we determine, with the utmost possible certainty, that non-linguistic beasties can think?

Our understanding of what counts as thought/belief must be capable of comparing non-linguistic thought/belief with linguistic thought/belief. Otherwise, without comparing/contrasting the two, by what standard of measure are we claiming that the one is not the other?

So, it boils down to our first looking at what counts as linguistic thought/belief.
creativesoul
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by creativesoul »

All statements, assuming sincerity in speech, are statements that the speaker believes to be true. Truth is presupposed in thought/belief statements. The presupposition of truth inherent to all statements is the result of drawing a correlation between what the statement is saying about the way things are, and the way things are. When the truth of the statement is not presupposed, it is not thought/believed by the speaker. No presupposition of truth, no statement of thought/belief.

All statements are meaningful. All meaning consists of something to become sign/symbol, something to become significant/symbolized, and a creature capable of drawing correlations, associations, and/or otherwise connecting the two.

All language is predication. All predication consists of meaningful correlation. All statements of thought/belief consist of meaningful correlation.

So, at the very least, all this must somehow inform our task of setting out and/or discovering non-linguistic thought/belief.

Non-linguistic thought/belief must consist of correlation, presuppose it's own truth, and be meaningful to the thinking/believing creature.
Last edited by creativesoul on Sun Oct 28, 2018 7:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Averroes
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by Averroes »

creativesoul wrote: Sat Oct 27, 2018 7:50 pm
Averroes wrote: Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:54 pm
Trajk Logik wrote: Tue Jan 16, 2018 12:58 pm https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Man_Without_Words

This is a story about a deaf man that never learned any language, including sign language, until he was 27. If he wasn't able to think prior to learning a language, then how did he feed, dress, and take care of himself?

How can we learn a language at all if we don't think prior to learning it?

Language is simply visual scribbles and sounds in the air. We must be able to see and hear and to be able to organize our thoughts in order to make any sense of, and to be able to distinguish between, different visuals and sounds.
Interesting example. Concerning the topic of this thread, I think Chomsky is right on this, and this is the view of mainstream linguistics, that language is innate. You made an interesting observation by asking the question: "How can we learn a language at all if we don't think prior to learning it?"
I have taken that question as a rhetorical question. Now if one were to follow this line of reasoning through, then it becomes apparent that language is innate. For if it is necessary for one to be able to think before using language, then language cannot be learned for thinking is through concepts, and if these were not learned, (I.e. prior to acquiring the language of our surrounding), then these concepts must be innate. In a nutshell, this is what Chomsky and modern linguists think about it. And there is an emormous amount of empirical evidence which back this view. Modern linguistics takes language to be innate. Much like babies are born with sight, touch, smell etc., they are also born with language. And as their sense organs develop as they grow up, so too they experience language growth (Chomsky used that expression in one of his interviews).
Not all thinking is through language concepts.
Give examples of some thinking without language!
creativesoul
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by creativesoul »

Averroes wrote: Sun Oct 28, 2018 4:33 pm
creativesoul wrote: Sat Oct 27, 2018 7:50 pm
Averroes wrote: Thu Jan 25, 2018 5:54 pm

Interesting example. Concerning the topic of this thread, I think Chomsky is right on this, and this is the view of mainstream linguistics, that language is innate. You made an interesting observation by asking the question: "How can we learn a language at all if we don't think prior to learning it?"
I have taken that question as a rhetorical question. Now if one were to follow this line of reasoning through, then it becomes apparent that language is innate. For if it is necessary for one to be able to think before using language, then language cannot be learned for thinking is through concepts, and if these were not learned, (I.e. prior to acquiring the language of our surrounding), then these concepts must be innate. In a nutshell, this is what Chomsky and modern linguists think about it. And there is an emormous amount of empirical evidence which back this view. Modern linguistics takes language to be innate. Much like babies are born with sight, touch, smell etc., they are also born with language. And as their sense organs develop as they grow up, so too they experience language growth (Chomsky used that expression in one of his interviews).
Not all thinking is through language concepts.
Give examples of some thinking without language!
All thought/belief consists of correlations. Drawing a correlation between things is existentially dependent upon a plurality of things and a creature capable of doing so. If thought and belief can be said to be formed and/or otherwise held/had by non linguistic beasties, then the beast is drawing a correlation between 'objects' of physiological sensory perception and/or itself. The itself portion is critical to understanding the evolutionary process of thought/belief.

Written history shows that human knowledge accrues complexity and there is no good reason to believe that thought/belief are any different. Since all thought and belief consists of correlations, non linguistic rudimentary thought/belief must consist of correlations drawn between things that exist in their entirety prior to becoming a part of the creature's thought/belief.

It is crucial for us to not conflate our report with what we're reporting on. Understanding thought and belief requires drawing and maintaining the distinction between our accounts and what we're taking account of. When we're first taking an account of our own thought/belief, we're taking account of that which exists in it's entirety prior to our account of it. So the distinction between thought/belief and thinking about thought/belief is imperative to draw and maintain.

Chomsky and all others have failed here...
creativesoul
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Re: Is It Possible To Think Without Language?

Post by creativesoul »

To command another to offer examples of thinking without language is to use language itself in a potentially confusing manner. I cannot offer an example of anything without language, for language is the means by which I provide the example. However, the question is not about whether or not I am able to provide an example without using language to do so. We're not looking into whether or not language is required in order for me to be able to provide an example. We're looking at whether or not language is required in order for my example to exist, in it's entirety, prior to my providing an account of it. My account requires language. The example I'm taking account of does not always.

Mt Everest. The sun. The moon. Non-linguistic thought/belief.

Each of these things exists in it's entirety prior to our ability to take an account of it. It would behoove us all to not conflate between that which exists in it's entirety prior to our account and our account. Our account has a different set of existential conditions than what we're taking account of. Mt. Everest is existentially dependent upon different things than our account of Mt. Everest.

Our account of non-linguistic thought/belief requires language. Our knowledge of it requires the same. The existence of it does not.
Last edited by creativesoul on Sun Oct 28, 2018 6:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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