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Thinking without language?

kenneth Collins kpaulc at earthlink.net
Sat Dec 25 18:44:11 EST 1999

[cross-posts to comp.ai.nat-lang & sci.lang eliminated]

=NOBODY= "thinks" in 'symbols'.

'symbols' are only added to 'thought' as relatively-maximal TD
E/I-minimization is approached, as usefulness with respect to things
pertaining to the 'passive-active phase shift' (AoK, Ap5), is

'symbolism' is effector-activation.

'thought' correlates with effector-activation, but in myriad ways (see
'dynamic subordinate coupling' and 'sensory-motor templates' in AoK,
Ap5) =almost all= of which have no need for 'symbolic' representation
because their 'motor templates' do not correlate with motor-speech

'thinking' occurs even at spinal 'levels'.

'language' is 'just' a relatively high-'level' effector mechanism...
it's, relatively, 'just' an evolutionary add-on.

this's why verbal symbolism can be explored endlessly. all the
'exploration' is what 'Thought' is. 'words' are 'just' the stuff of

one more 'tool' in behavioral repetoirs.

'Thought' is Immensely-more.

K. P. Collins

mb wrote:
> Jim Balter wrote in message <3864D123.E0C90A at sandpiper.net>...
> >Larisa Migachyov wrote:
> >>
> >> ADR wrote:
> >> >  We don't actually think in words. Observe carefully while your
> 'thinking'.
> >> >  Your tongue is still moving and there is small muscular movements
> occuring,
> >> >  you're actually talking without voicing out loud. Try sticking your
> tongue
> >> >  out and keeping it still as possible, you won't be able to think well
> in
> >> >  'words'. Thoughts are feelings on one level which we bring down one
> level by
> >> >  using our tools for communication, such as our mouth.
> >>
> >> I don't know about you, but I'm perfectly able to think verbally while
> >> sticking my tongue out and keeping it still.  The fact that I'm typing
> >> this with my tongue stuck out proves it.
> >
> >Perhaps this indicates that different people have different degrees of
> subvocalization.  With my tongue stuck out, I cannot (silently!) read
> >the word "this" without a sense of lisping.  This is no joke -- I am
> >apparently a strong subvocalizer.
> This applies only to a subclass of people re thinking with or without words.
> The more you look at it, the more you realize that a) there are people whose
> native language is oral (and fits into the rigid, unrealistic scheme of most
> linguists) and others whose native language(s) is/are written; and b) that
> some people do think in words only, while others don't.
> To "a" (absolute heresy for official linguistic schools, but easily observed
> fact): Very few researchers realized the real impact of writing. It is not
> that the readers or speakers are less competent in the vernacular, resp. the
> standard languages. But some people can process oral information directly,
> while others -like myself- always have to project a virtual written screen
> before their eyes to process it. The latter are mostly unable to read
> misspelled texts directly, do not understand puns based on pronunciation,
> but are good at wordplay based on spelling. Also, they have a tendency to
> stick to older meanings for words (in part because the connotative and
> denotative connections of words are vastly different between "speakers" and
> "readers"). Also, this phenomenon is general - the two groups are found in
> all literate cultures looked into.
> The extreme "reader" may have difficulty understanding a text if he
> vocalizes or subvocalizes, because the sound or movement interferes with his
> concentration (as when somebody reads aloud to you while you are trying to
> read the same text).
> To "b": I believe that some people can think without words, because I'll
> take their word for it. Also, those who think in words obviously did not do
> so prior to their acquisition of language. But those who uphold the dogma of
> wordless thought will have to take it from us, those who are utterly unable
> to think with objects instead of symbols, that there is such a population
> too.

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