Is it possible to think without Language?

Is it possible to think without Language?
darkcrow
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#21 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Aug 28, 2004 - 7:42 AM:

Being self-contradictory is a logically sufficient condition for being false, so does it follows that there cannot be thought without thinking— for thought is a property of thinking. What kind of thought might exist without thinking and, what kind of thinking is ‘thinking without language’— though with no place to go.
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#22 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Aug 28, 2004 - 8:55 AM:

jaoman wrote:
I'm a writer ... Many of my insights come when I'm tuning out and developing stories in my head. I start thinking about symbolism and themes and, bang!, things pop into place. Words only come in later.

As a philosophical experiment, I took a survey of a couple of dozen writers, sculptors, and painters, and what you say is typical of creative activity. A notable addition was frequent reports of focused, directed day-dreaming to come up with new but related ideas, especially by full time professionals.
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#23 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Aug 28, 2004 - 10:51 AM:

can u imagine a world without language?


All human children think prior to learning a spoken language. Thinking without a language of words is a firm reality among all humans.

After a human learns worded language, s/he most commonly and without effort associates all natural perceptions with the learned word that conceptualizes the perception. “Learning” means association, an established association of one item to another item, where the mind has semi-permanently joined a sensory perception to the cognitive process of analytic discernment.

Though worded language is extremely important towards the creation of civilizations and technologies, when thoughts are too restricted to words (words being but a small concept of the thing they are associated with), creativity and enjoyment of perceiving life is stunted.

Some humans prefer to return to the natural child-like awe of thinking without words (that means they sensorially perceive things without using words, not that they have lost their ability to think words when desired: it is a chosen method of perception that allows greater quantities of information that cannot be had when limited to associations of words). The unworded perception and conscious discernment is often achieved through the methods taught in philosophies such as Zen and core Christianity, both of which teach to become as children (referring in part to the original state of mental innocence and its accompanying state of awareness).

All animals think without use of a worded language (though some have learned some words and/or sign language).

A world without a spoken language would have humans still beating their chests and sleeping in trees. As with all things, each has its good and bad sides.
Bellator_Fortis
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#24 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Aug 31, 2004 - 1:29 PM:

I don't think that it's impossible to think (my definition being to make generalizations of observation or make decisions mentally) without a language. It's just a lot harder. You can't build upon previous knowledge and focus nearly as well. And it's even harder for me to do such without use of language because I already understand language. One cannot really detach oneself from language once they've learned it.

Aside from things such as trees, there are also abstract objects. How can a person think, without language, of something that that person has never sensed?

Further from just thinking without language (I may be getting off-subject here), there is the idea of passing knowledge among generations. It can't be done without language (language being not just words but signs and symbols and stuff too).

My two cents.
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#25 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Sep 1, 2004 - 2:17 PM:

I think it's rather hard to imagine thought without language for the simple reason that thinking with language is the BEST way to think that we know of--ignoring whether or not it's the only way. Languages, as far as I know, take hundreds upon hundreds of years to develop...they're the result of complex social processes, and a kind of constant reevaluation of what it means to "think" and "think effectively."

What I'm getting at is, maybe thought and language came into being as concepts not as a result of thought itself, but as a result of a kind of bigger process, a cultural and social process. A million humans simply responding to and trying to survive in their environment...is this enough to "create" a language that can form the basis of "thought"?
Machiveli
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#26 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Sep 1, 2004 - 2:24 PM:

Blessed_Logic wrote:
I think it's rather hard to imagine thought without language for the simple reason that thinking with language is the BEST way to think that we know of--ignoring whether or not it's the only way.


It is best for some problems and not others.

Consider planning to get from a to b accross a landscape you know. I find it much faster to visualise the journey as I were doing it than thinking in words. Infact I'd go so far as to state that for most skilled manual tasks kinesthetic/visual modalities are far more important than language. Also for some mathematical thinking I find it easier to do do this visualy than symbolicly.

I'd like to pose a related question:

How can you increase the amount of thinking you do without language. I tend to feel fairly good when I'm not thinking linguisticly and my internal dialog is turned right down.
Nihilistic Locomotive
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#27 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Sep 1, 2004 - 8:30 PM:

Machiaveli wrote:
Also for some mathematical thinking I find it easier to do do this visualy than symbolicly.


This is important. Art for instance in many cases exaggerates the destructions of certain instinctual non-thought processes. Think of the process inherent in producing realisms as opposed to abstract works; the former art requires a discipline of objective forms; this is a discipline on par with the mind needed to do logical thinking. This kind of artist holds in mind particular laws of which he masters. Visually, one must acquire a skill to present what is real on a 2-demensional surface, while the abstract artists use a dumbing down of realisms to geometries, the fundamentl forms of law behind the sense, general forms of balance, contextual placement, movment.

The totality of an abstract product, whatever medium, seeks a logic or tempo reflexive of the context of the viewer; so he may say to himself that he views the mere appearance of a wholism, a paltry form of the art that is occuring, the in-itself of passive reception.

In the tradition of Western art, of its mindset, when we ask the question of what is thinking we create it out of a method grounded in the real. We mimic forms of what we think constitutes the real and affect ourselves in that affirmation by pursuing that corresponding world. This is reacting to symbol, or reifying and limiting ourselves in the condition of habit.

Some Greek Orators and Philosophers despised the invention of writing and code because it contained the mind, put it to external requirements (we correlate symbol by consensus and law). When man is dependent on substance outside himself he is the reactant of a substance that is liable to 'error.' He is after the fact, ex post facto, and logic dominates by symbol. Its symbol dictates use, not its being. That is terrible.
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#28 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Sep 1, 2004 - 11:16 PM:

Machiveli wrote:
How can you increase the amount of thinking you do without language. I tend to feel fairly good when I'm not thinking linguisticly and my internal dialog is turned right down.


I think this is best done with art, with the act of creating art -- whether it be painting, sculpting, dance, or music. All artists, of these types of art, know that language is not required for "thinking." Similarly, I think that mechanical innovation is not language based.
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#29 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Sep 2, 2004 - 12:29 PM:

Liberepublicat wrote:
I think this is best done with art, with the act of creating art -- whether it be painting, sculpting, dance, or music. All artists, of these types of art, know that language is not required for "thinking." Similarly, I think that mechanical innovation is not language based.

“[...] silly folk and dullards think” says John Dewey. The question is, what kinds of thought is there?— It seems to me even for mediation or Art, to be of lasting value, must be grounded in reflective thought. For mediation begets knowledge as does art.
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#30 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Sep 2, 2004 - 7:12 PM:

Bellator_Fortis wrote:
... passing knowledge among generations. It can't be done without language
This is a crucial human advantage. Animals have rudimentary 'culture' in the form of habits that are passed on by example. But the chain of passing on habits to the next generation is easily disrupted, and then 'culture' is lost.
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