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Thinking without language?

John Turnbull john at turnbull.org
Sat Nov 27 10:52:32 EST 1999

In article <7fg0xs6x52.fsf at faith.csis.hku.hk>,
Lee Sau Dan 李守敦 <sdlee at faith.csis.hku.hk> wrote:
>>>>>> "John" == John Turnbull <john at turnbull.org> writes:

>    >> Mind you again that there are often concepts that cannot (yet)
>    >> be expressed in words in any known languages.

>    John> I don't think so, and it's obviously pointless to ask for an
>    John> example, as by your definition you can't express it.

>Why did  physicists had  to coin  the new word  "quark" for  that very
>concept?   Why did  physicits have  to  coin the  new term  "chromatic
>charge" for those new concepts in quantum mechanics?

New words are created to reduce the number of words needed to communicate.
If physicists said "itty-bitty particles that compose the little things
that make up atoms" then they would probably think differently.  Creating
a new word allows them to treat "quark" as an independent concept, and
think further about it.

>Explain to me how mathematicians think and develop the concepts before
>the    words    "complex    number",   "differentiation",    "vector",
>"integration", "tensor", "curl", "quarternion", etc. are coined.

Not being a mathematician I'm not familiar with half of those terms, but
surely the same thing applies.  Something is described with a lot of words,
and then a new word or term is used to describe it, which allows thinking
about it without worrying about the details.

>    John> Do you really need to memorize the shape of a triangle?  Or
>    John> is it just a word in the language of geometry?

>No, it's  not a word, but  a CONCEPT.  A  concept in my mind  does not
>require words to represent.  A concept  is a concept is a concept.  It
>is independent  of words of  any lauguage.  I  only need words  when I
>want to  communicate with others (reading other's  writing, writing my
>own essays, talking/discussing).

Don't you also communicate with diagrams?  There must be some common
language to the diagrams so people understand.  Languages are composed
of words.  An arrow in a flowchart is a word.

>BTW, how do you think deaf people think?

Deaf people usually know languages.  They read, write, know sign language.
Why would it be a problem?  Words don't have to be heard.

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