It looks like you're using an Ad Blocker.

Please white-list or disable in your ad-blocking tool.

Thank you.


Some features of ATS will be disabled while you continue to use an ad-blocker.


thinking without language

page: 1
<<   2  3 >>

log in


posted on Jun, 16 2004 @ 09:40 AM
Languages has always interested me and last night i was watching the discovery channel and it was talking about how man has not always had spoken language, and it started me thinking. because when you think you think in language . . . like english is my native language so i think about somethng in english . but how would it be possible to think if there was no language.

is it possible that lnaguage only came with the seperation between concious and unconcious minds oris it possible they just used instinct or are the scientists in fact wrong. this is a very provocative question for me lol

posted on Jun, 16 2004 @ 09:45 AM
I can tell you that it is possible for people to think in something besides the normal forms of language. I think in a combination of English, made-up words and something that I can only explain as vibrations or waves. It make ideas quite difficult to explain at times.

posted on Jun, 16 2004 @ 09:59 AM
Language as such shouldn't be a prerequisite for a person to be able to think. If that was the case, it wouldn't be possible for a person who's deaf and blind to think, right? We can still distiguish between feelings. And I'd guess finally one creates sort of a language by oneself to handle more complicated thought than basic feelings.

This must have been studied further. Does anyone have deeper knowledge in this?

[edit on 16-6-2004 by Durden]

posted on Jun, 16 2004 @ 10:18 AM
good point i have never thought about it that way

but if someone does not have a language then what do they call a happy person? that confuzes me soo much

posted on Jun, 16 2004 @ 10:29 AM
I think that the words in our head are probably just something that we provide for our self as a sort of confirmation of what we are thinking. The thought is already there. For example, think about something that happened earlier today, you could have your subconsious voice literally tell you in your head what happened but try stopping your self mid sentance. The thought was already there before the voice, and the voice just re-enforces it
Or think of an action or hand gesture but stop your self from telling yourself what you are going to do, you are still thinking without the words, and you can still go ahead and perform the action that you thought about.
It is hard but possible to think without language. I think that we are just so used to the sound of our own words that we just use them without thinking if that makes sence?

posted on Jun, 16 2004 @ 10:34 AM
junior_smith asked in an U2U for more information on my post so I thought that I would place it here for the benefit of anyone interested.

Sometimes I think in a pecular way (waves & vibrations). It is comparible to invisible statues waist deep in the ocean. The statues are like nouns (people, places and things) and they are invisible because of the progression of time (always changing so there is never a fixed mental image to get hung up on). The ocean or waves are the verbs, actions and consequence that occur in time. When the waves hit the statues (every changing moment) they resonate through vibrations and show the interactions between space and time. The waves (time) make the statues (dimensional space) a perceivible reality (vibrations) and vice versa.

From time to time it does become impossible to translate that way of thinking into English, but the benefit is being able to see things in completely different lights at the same time. I don't think that I have been like this since birth. It just kind of developed without me noticing the change.

As for my other statement about thinking in made-up words, I suppose that is more like a mish-mash of different languages, different parts of different words merged together for the sake of saving time. A dyslexic, schizophranic type of short hand. Once in a while, I actually speak it out loud to my gf. She just turns to me and says, "You're doing it again!" It's good for a laugh. I just hope that I don't accidentily talk like that in front of anyone else.

posted on Jun, 16 2004 @ 11:49 AM
Thought is neurons in the brain transmiting electrochemical signals to other neurons. It seems it is translated into language, because that is what we understand. Other animals use thought, but don't have a verbal language. When a fish, dog, or mouse 'thinks' it's likely not in a language such as english, they wouldn't understand. Just like we wouldn't understand barking.

posted on Jun, 16 2004 @ 12:23 PM
Hmm this is interesting. I have always thought of language as communication, but it isnt really, I mean there is sign language, Mime, writing, pictograms, symbols, etc. These are all part of communication, it seems language is just the easy way out for our brain. It is sort of a GUI - for a brain to interface with its body and with other brains and bodies. We could exist without language, but it allows for complex expression of thought and emotion. Have you ever seen the stories of feral (sp?) children. They are unable to learn to speak and it henders their ability to assimilate our culture, society, etc. But they still think, obviously.

posted on Jun, 16 2004 @ 12:48 PM
I think language definitely shapes the WAY we think. Personally, in my ground-state consciousness. I hear my voice thinking the thoughts I'm typing. Electrodes connected to the throat can sense signals in the larynx, showing that your brain sends signals to your larynx when you read, almost pronouncing the words, but that the signals are countermanded by the brain on their way to the voice-box. The main trick to speed-reading is learning to shut off this reflex of mentally 'pronouncing' every word you read.

Linguists are currently arguing over to what degree some thoughts can only be had in certain languages. Some phrases are definitely difficult to translate into other languages. I am amused by this German sentence:

"Er shliess den Tuer mit zu ihm gewohnten Energie."

Which is something like "He closed the door with what was for him familiar effort." I can get the point across, but it's a bit cumbersome in English. Some languages like Greek, have whole verb tenses that are just not present in English, like the Aorist.

Buckminster Fuller's dictum that "I seem to be a verb" kind of sets me adrift on an an altered state of consciousness. Notice that "verb" is actually functioning as a noun . . .

There is a movement I'm trying to google on the web, that tries to never use the verb "BE." It will definitely put you in an altered state, and drive the people around you nuts without knowing why. I'll post it as soon as I find their web-page.

posted on Jun, 16 2004 @ 01:00 PM
Just some interesting stuff I"ve come across that relates to this topic...ideas such as that ancient ancient languages consisted of just sounds that represented the physical vibrations (or energy) of objects. For instance, a chair actually has energy and the molecules of the chair vibrate at certain frequencies to keep it in it's the ancient word for 'chair' would have been a sound that conveyed the same vibrational energy as a real chair. Weird stuff but really interesting to think about.
Jonna..I too used come up with gibberish words ALL the time. Not based on english at all. But the words and the way they sounded conveyed like a 'feeling' I had and I used them for things all the time. I used to give everyone a made up gibberish nickname.. arc glycer, daedenfach..these things are all gibberish but they hold some weird meaning to me.
Think about when your dog barks or you hear a baby know exactly what the dog wants or the baby needs based on the tone and pitch of the cry. Alot of information is conveyed without 'language' as we understand it.

posted on Jun, 16 2004 @ 01:07 PM
Thinking without language would indeed be called a "PRIVATE LANGUAGE" which in all requirements of "language" can not exist. Or can it?

To get REALLY into this head scratcher read WITTGENSTEIN.

Google search Pain and Private Language

posted on Jun, 16 2004 @ 01:27 PM
The idea that varieties of consciousness are dependant upon specific language is the The Sapir-Whorf-Korzybski Hypothesis.

Speaking English without the use of "Be" verbs is called "E-prime" here are some webpages:

posted on Jun, 16 2004 @ 05:17 PM
I think partly german/english and without language. But without language is kinda just getting already "thought up" stuff out of the archive!

Interesting thought in your initial statement. I am gonna think about it when going to sleep. Thanks for the idea

posted on Jun, 17 2004 @ 08:27 AM
I have also thought about what it would be like thinking without any language.
When I think I can sometimes think in swedish mixed with english. Sometimes english gives a better expression to my thoughts.

It feels like I already have all my thoughts thought up in my head when i try to think without words.
I think thinking is all about moving your focus point to one thought and then get it translated into words. Words shouldn't be required for thinking I think. It goes a lot faster to think without words.

posted on Jun, 17 2004 @ 08:48 AM
Thinking can and is done without comprehencible language all the time.
Not only humans think you. Pritty much everything with a brain thinks.

Thinking at its most basic is done with perceptions, instincts, feelings and emotions.

Just take a leopard for example, the animal feels a need to feed, searches for a prey and starts contemplating what its best method of attack will be, seeing what direction it should attack from, mainly taking into callculation what direction the wind comes from, if it attacks with the wind in its back, the prey will smell and hear it more easely, when it attacks with head on wind, the prey will hear and smell less. Then it also surveys the accesibility of the terrain, does it provide good cover, are there to much trees or rocks to be able to run at its best. An leopard will also take its own physical condition into account and alot more. They even take the physical wellbeing of their prey into account, if they spot a herd of prey, they'll try to spot an animal thats or secluded from the group, or a youngster or a sick animal that won't be able to put up much of a fight.

Thats all thinking, no language required or used, but alot of things taken into consideration before attacking a prey.

Then there is also alot of animals that do have a language, a more basic one then any of the human languages maybe, but they still have very destinct sounds they produce for specific events.

Dolphins and whales have very complex languages that we only just start to decypher and understand.

Theres also creatures like bees, that don't use sounds for communication, but scents, a beehive's communication is fully done by pheromones and touches. The beehive queen even disables the worker bees sexuality by using pheromones.

posted on Jun, 17 2004 @ 10:19 AM
Thematrix, most scientists believe that those animal behaviors you mention are the result of instinct, a powerful preconscious urge to perform a specific behavior.

All suppositions about animal cognitions are speculative, unless you're a mindreader.

posted on Jun, 17 2004 @ 10:23 AM

Originally posted by RANTTo get REALLY into this head scratcher read WITTGENSTEIN.

Wittgenstein rocks. He is probably my favourite philosopher and I recently got this great version of the Tractatus Logico-philosophicus with the original German and the translation next to eachother.

Wittgenstein tries to show in that book that many problems in philosophy are caused by problems in the language and that when you write down language structures systematically and mathematically, these problems disappear. Very interesting stuff, but sometimes you might need the help of a commentary book if you're not familiar with the usually german philosophical terms.

posted on Jun, 17 2004 @ 10:56 AM
I think in English, mainly in caribbean English (bad English). Sometimes I think in Dutch and sometimes I think in Papiamento.

But often I think in images (then I'm using the creative side of my brain). There are methods to help you think more in images. IMO it's much more helpful to think in images than in language. Problems are solved much easier, because your logical, rational (language part of the) mind is not in the way of the creative side.

The biggest scientific discoveries have been made using the imagination and not the logical, language mind. (Einstein, Tesla, Kekule etc...) Afterwards, the logical mind was used to analyse and fill in the details.

[]Image streaming[/url] is one of those methods...

posted on Jun, 17 2004 @ 06:24 PM
i am a fluent English, Spanish, and French Speaker. I have also wondered in what language I myself was thinking in. i have had some bilangual friend that also sometimes ask themselves in what language they think in. From what i have come up with i think that some expresions can not be translated from lannguage to language and also some feelings can not be explained in words but in thought vibrations. I think this is also an example of when u get the feeling of what some people are thinking about or when in a situation u dont find the need to say anything because there is mutual inderstanding. Before language existed people knew what the other people were talking about by hand gestures and facial expressions and deep thought vibrations.

posted on Jun, 17 2004 @ 06:42 PM
Think of all the times when you were explaining something to someone, but then you couldn't think of the word that you need to describe an idea. "Yesterday, I went to the... um... What's the word? You know, for when you blah blah blah..." That happens to everyone now and then. Isn't that proof that the thought comes first - then we use words to describe our thoughts to others?

I don't think language is the mode of thought. Thoughts are images, feelings, sounds, smells, etc. Language can also be a thought, but language isn't the only kind of thought. Most often, the thought comes first, and then we use language to explain the thought to other people.

I'm also bilingual in English and Spanish, and it is true that sometimes I don't know what language I think in... which is another reason to think that we don't really "think" using language all the time.

[edit on 17-6-2004 by Estrella]

top topics

<<   2  3 >>

log in