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Thinking without language?

Larisa Migachyov lvm at leland.Stanford.EDU
Sat Nov 20 15:27:02 EST 1999


Alan Roth wrote:
>  I used to be a totally verbal thinker. One day (in 1983?) on a whim, I
>  went around the office to 7 or 8 of my high-tech. co-workers and asked
>  them "how" they think. In those days, that would not get you fired
>  immediately--I wouldn't recommend it today. Once they understood the
>  question, the answers seemed to fall about equally into two groups,
>  (and, yes, I know this is a very small sample)--either they were verbal
>  like me, or they thought in "pictures."
>  This was novel to me, but I taught myself to visualize concepts, even
>  abstract ones--guess what--my comprehension of the world increased with
>  practice and I suspect my measureable IQ has risen too--(it hasn't been
>  tested recently, but one knows what things are amenable to solution and
>  not).
>  I learned to switch modes, depending on the type of problem. There is no
>  doubt that "a picture is worth a thousand words." It is explication for
>  others that is sometimes difficult--words are so limiting and so slow.

I have had to learn visual thinking when I was in engineering school.  I
even remember the decisive moment when I realized that verbal/abstract
modes of thinking will not allow me to design a simple mechanism in my
head; so I consciously started training myself to visualize mechanisms,
starting from the simplest and going on to the more complex.  It still
does not come as naturally as auditory thinking to me; but I have learned
enough to enable me to function as an engineer.   

Larisa Migachyov                            
Quaternion Press Publishing House
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