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Thinking without language?

Larisa Migachyov lvm at leland.Stanford.EDU
Fri Nov 19 19:38:16 EST 1999

Jerry Hull wrote:
>  On Thu, 18 Nov 1999 16:49:05 -0000, "ADR" <a.dalla_rosa at virgin.net>
>  wrote:
>  >We don't actually think in words. Observe carefully while your 'thinking'.
>  >Your tongue is still moving and there is small muscular movements occuring,
>  >you're actually talking without voicing out loud. Try sticking your tongue
>  >out and keeping it still as possible, you won't be able to think well in
>  >'words'. Thoughts are feelings on one level which we bring down one level by
>  >using our tools for communication, such as our mouth.
>  This seems completely mistaken.  It is the vocal chords that show
>  micro movements which track with "silent speech", if I recall
>  correctly.  The tongue has nothing to do with it.

And, as several posters have already mentioned, thinking does not have to
involve speech.  I offer some more examples of nonverbal thinking:

 Create a simple melody.  Now, "play" it in your mind.  Add a simple
accompaniment.  "Play" a variation on that melody.  "Play" another
variation in the style of Mozart.  Create a 4-voice fugue based on that
melody.  Improvise freely in your mind on that melody and smoothly meld it
into the tune from Beethoven's 5th. 

 Design a simple mechanism that can withdraw a spoonful of coffee from a
jar, put it in a cup, and add boiling water and cream.  Let it be actuated
by an electric motor of given parameters.  It should be simple to use,
easy to maintain, and portable.  

 Obviously, the worlds of dance, music, art, engineering, and sports can
offer much more examples.

Larisa Migachyov                            
Quaternion Press Publishing House
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