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Thinking without language?

gregh chows at dontspam.me.ozemail.com.au
Tue Jan 18 22:09:27 EST 2000

"Leo Smith" <Who.cares at shaman.co.uk> wrote in message
news:38850C18.4BDA8E48 at shaman.co.uk...
> Rick Wojcik wrote:Now you have changed the question.  The original
question was
> > whether one could think without language.  Of course they can.
> > Not just animals, but people who have suffered catastrophic loss
> > of language from brain damage.  I agree with you that language
> > affects our mental development, but that isn't the same as saying
> > that it is necessary for thinking--even logical thinking--to take
> > place.  Animals clearly make deductions.  Just not as well as
> > humans.
> Oh for goodness sake. It depends what you define thinking and lanuage to
be. As
> far as I am concerned, my internal representation of these concepts to
myself, for
> my purposes, says that thinking is the silent exercise of language. By
almost a

That is a good explanation for YOU and your needs but I have to ask you -
have you ever been doing something and then an idea, totally unrelated to
anything you are doing, occurs to you, no word thought having occurred prior
to that point, on that subject? Babies too young to be able to talk can
count in a rudimentary fashion and so can my dogs which are Chow Chows. I
taught them both "all gone" when I was sharing a tidbit with them and it was
all gone. I have one muffin for breakfast but it is cut in two. They get a
little bit each off each side. I know it is repetition that they learned
they only get two but the point is that now I dont tell them "all gone" at
all, now. After 2 bits each, they try their luck with my wife for a bit of
food. It's fairly obvious from that, that they learned by repitition but
actually count the peices because they never go away when they have gotten
one peice only. They know certain phrases but I doubt that if they had the
vocal chords, they would actually start holding conversations with me.

> matter of definition. But I wouldn't expect anyone else to have precisely
the same
> set of subtle attributes attached to those two words, so an almost
infinite series
> of responses by different people is likely if you start asking questions
> this.

One of the problems of an IQ test no doubt. I remember having one as a 12
year old and telling the teacher that there were 2 possible answers for one
question towards the middle. The teacher looked at it, slapped his head and
realised it was so. He was an intelligent guy but he was the one who made
the test and couldnt see the double-up when he reviewed it. His questions
were a problem, though. He was from England and teaching in the 60s in
Australia and his words could mean different things. His IQ test wasnt a
true representation of IQ for a lot of people as most didnt have him as a
teacher and therefore didnt know his idioms. Our class was just lucky.

> And it will reveal nothing about thinking, or language - merely how
> internal representations of these concepts become externalised in yakking
at each
> other.

My own representation of that phrase was as a 4 or 5 year old and learning
"The Lord's Prayer" and being frightened about being "suffered to come to
thee". HEH HEH. I finally asked my father why I had to suffer. ;-}

> God this thread is boring.

Depends on your meaning for "boring". No holes in my monitor! ;-}


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