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Thinking without language?

John Turnbull john at turnbull.org
Sat Nov 20 10:06:36 EST 1999

In article <7fr9hl8oiv.fsf at faith.csis.hku.hk>,
Lee Sau Dan 李守敦 <sdlee at faith.csis.hku.hk> wrote:
>Try playing  the game of Tetris, too!   I can't see how  far one could
>get if he plays it by verbal thinking.
>Go and  have a ride a  bike or drive a  car.  Don't tell  me you don't
>think when  you're driving or riding  a bike.  And don't  tell me that
>you have  to talk to  yourself in words  inside your mind  when you're
>doing this kind  of thinking.  Otherwise, you'll be  too slow to react
>to anything, let alone accidents.

I guess it depends what you call thinking.  I wouldn't consider reacting
to be thinking.  When you first start playing Tetris, or driving, one
isn't very good, and in my case there is a lot of verbal thinking going
on.  "That piece will fit and fill the row" etc.  As you gain experience
and have already solved the problems, you simply recognize a situation,
and reapply the same solution.

I'm willing to accept that different people think differently, but for me
I would consider verbal thinking very important, and write notes on paper
to help me think.  I would argue that any thinking that takes a long time,
and can be interrupted requires at least some verbal thinking to keep on
track, and communicate between the different parts of the brain.

John Turnbull

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