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Thinking without language?

Rick Wojcik rwojcik at gte.net
Tue Jan 18 22:52:30 EST 2000

Leo Smith wrote:
> 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
> 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 like
> this.

Read the question.  If you define thinking as a silent exercise
in language, then you have just begged the question.  Your only
way out of the dilemma is that you say it is "almost a matter of
definition".  If you can tell us how "almost" differs from
"totally" in your mind, you might have a way out of the circular

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

Concepts can also become externalized by other methods--pointing,
facial expression, pantomime, etc.

> God this thread is boring.

Leo, is somebody threatening to kill you if you ignore this

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