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Is language needed for thinking?

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posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 08:53 PM
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A while ago I was listening to an interview by the "Hulk" who was born deaf. He said he functioned ok even though when young he couldn't speak. If he couldn't speak, then are we to assume that he could internalise without language? Is there some kind of internal fall back language.
Being a self aware entity it seems internalising comes with the territory, and is necessary for solving problems. So is language required for thinking, or just needed to transfer said thoughts to another person.?




posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 09:04 PM
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reply to post by anonentity
 


Language is man made to help communication between people. Language is just meanings we have given to sounds.
You can still think without language but may have trouble sharing with others without it.



posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 09:07 PM
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reply to post by anonentity
 


It's hard to imagine thinking without language. It's certainly what I associate with it. I wonder if Hellen Keller was 'thinking' prior to having been taught language? There is more to the internal experience than that dialogue however. Awareness itself. The experience of emotions. Those don't depend on language.
edit on 9-2-2014 by Lucid Lunacy because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 09:30 PM
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reply to post by Lucid Lunacy
 


I think Helen Keller didn't realise she existed until she was taught to communicate by touch. As understand she thought she existed in a great dark void.



posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 09:35 PM
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reply to post by anonentity
 


She could still feel. She was aware of things she felt. How would she not then be aware of her existence?



posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 09:37 PM
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reply to post by anonentity
 





Being a self aware entity it seems internalising comes with the territory, and is necessary for solving problems. So is language required for thinking, or just needed to transfer said thoughts to another person.?


That's a VERY interesting question.

I think it's a yes and no. Yes, we have to have some sort of internal dialogue to figure something out. We don't have to have agreed upon words, or even the same words every time for things though. I think before language developed we went off of feelings. So picking up a pinecone felt a certain way, and so did throwing something. So in a way throwing a pinecone (weird ass example, I don't know why either) was a number of feelings, which you could call language. Prickly, round, arm back, fist closed, open fist while arm moves. Those are all feelings, but they don't need a name, just a simple awareness and memory.

I think higher thinking animals think with a sort of internal dialogue and don't just associate two things, which is presumably how we learned to use tools. So for an animal meat = food. To get meat attack that and it = food. For a person, meat = food, food = dead thing, pointy stick makes food dead. Let's call it something in our head to remember. OK yeah, for higher thinking I think an inner dialogue is necessary. I don't think a fish is thinking.

Some animals are capable of higher thought, like using tools to manipulate their environment, but I think most aren't even near our level. Some are. Apes, monkeys, dolphins, elephants, crows (other species of birds) and octopi are able to improvise and use tools. I don't think they have the same kind of inner monologue humans do, but they seem to be able to reason and not just react to impulses.

I'm having a very hard time getting across what I want to get across. I like your question OP. I hope more people chime in. I'm going to think on it with my annoying inner voice that I am now painfully aware of.

Edit To Add that I don't believe you meant language in a strictly communicative way. Yes, to communicate we need some sort of language. I read the first response and don't think that was what you were going for OP. I thought were asking if we need to have language constructs to be able to think. So what would happen if you left a human baby isolated for the first 10 years with no interaction. How would that child think. We probably will never know. It's like trying to describe to a blind person what you see.

edit on 0920140220141 by Domo1 because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 09:40 PM
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reply to post by Lucid Lunacy
 


How did she elucidate internal feelings to herself, such, this feeling means i am hungry?

Interesting question, i'd like to hear more perspectives on this.



posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 10:03 PM
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Cats are capable of problem solving which takes some form of thought process. Clearly, cats do not possess language, at least not in any form we recognize as language, so I would say that to a certain extent, yes, it's possible to think without language.

And when you look at the animal kingdom's problem solvers, cats are way, way down the list. Crows, squirrels, keas ... way up there.





Thing is that we're just to used to thinking in language that it's hard to conceptualize what it would be like not to, but there are times when you do. Just think of anytime when you react to something so quickly that you don't have time to really internalize with linguistic thought and really chew over it, but at the same time, you've had to still think. Athletes do it all the time.
edit on 9-2-2014 by ketsuko because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 10:39 PM
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Language is needed for linear and problem solving thinking. Think for a second, what would be going on in your head if you didn't have language? There would be no internal dialogue - no "I'm thinking", no reflective observations in which the self can "know" what it is thinking. So self knowledge would essentially be mute without a direct medium to convey that knowledge.

Without language, thinking would still occur, but it would also result in a massive diminishment in cortical/cognitive functioning. The ability to understand oneself and one's environment would be severely encumbered. Thinking without language, would probably anoetic i.e. "without knowing" resembling the experiences of the great apes, who, without knowledge, are only able to communicate via affective signals such as gestures, facial expressions, eye contact, grunts, and other nuanced vocalizations. In short, abstract thought could not be conveyed without language. Language is the key to the cosmos - the key to pandoras box: it allows us to integrate nonlinear and linear processes, to approximate the "things" we see and understand with our 5 senses (and interception) and "hold it within our awareness". Everything you see today, this computer, the infrastructure which makes our lives so much more pleasurable and convenient, is the product of language.

One could argue that the presence of the machinery - cortical structures which mediate representational processes of experiences, both internal and external, would spontaneously "emerge" in a person or culture which didn't have language. Our brains - our temporal and frontal areas - are BUILT for language. An entire hemisphere of our brain is specialized for this function. Some neuroscientists even think (probably unlikely) that specific areas of the brain "house linguistic rules", such as those which correlate emotion with cognition. For example, black - a distinction we make in color - corresponds in all cultures with death, with disease - concepts. It's plausible that certain sounds are instinctively felt by humans to correlate with certain ideas.



posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 10:42 PM
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Animals
duhhhh
I'm excited to be among so many "thinkers"
edit on 9-2-2014 by zombiefreekshow because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 10:49 PM
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reply to post by Astrocyte
 


Your first paragraph says it all really. One could not be able to hear or speak but still be able to write and we know writing leads to deeper thinking. As long as you have a way to attach the thought to a concept (which requires a label), you can then expand upon that. For those born deaf - they still have a language they learn unless they are feral. Loving people around them teach them hand signals and how to write - thus a language.



posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 10:53 PM
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reply to post by Domo1
 


Thats the leading view amongst neuroscientists. It's our WORKING MEMORY, our ability to hold things in mind and focus the spotlight of our attention, which makes us fundamentally different from other creatures. And the fossil record seems to indicate this. Medial cortical structures and subcortical medial structures are the most ancient parts of our brain, and they deal mostly with consolidating affective experience with the various needs that animals require i.e. seeking (for food), rage and fear (to protect itself) lust (to reproduce) care (in the case of mammals, to enhance survivability) and play (also in mammals, to foster social skills and seeking prowess).

In homo neanderthalis, skull structure conforms to this hypothesis. Their sloping forehead is all medial cortical, with no dorsolateral cortex. And as brain scans such as fMRI consistently show, activities which involve conscious attention and working memory cause the dorsolateral cortex to light up.

Have you seen the croods? Great movie. Loved it. It basically dramatized this difference between homo sapians and Neanderthals. Neanderthals were inveterate cave dwellers; thought more in terms of "withdrawal" than "approach" behaviours. This is because they were largely controlled by instinctive primary emotional urges - to seek food (when needed), to get enraged when group hierarchies were disturbed, scared when some unfamiliar and "scary" (such as thunder) occurred, etc.

Neanderthals may have exhibited proto-culture, but they lacked the imaginative and attentional capacities that enabled human beings to colonize the earth.



posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 10:56 PM
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I believe what is missing in your question is the factor of "communication".

Language doesn't give meaning to sounds, as one poster suggests, "language" gives meaning to concepts. Sound is one medium of communication.

Helen Keller received communicated by touch, smell, etc. and communicated, I presume, to others with the same senses.

It is my belief one thinks in concepts, then converts them to symbols which is language.

So, in a way, language is not required for "thought'. Concepts, ideas, are more fundamental that language. After all, if there were no concepts or ideas there'd be nothing to communicate....



posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 10:57 PM
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reply to post by ketsuko
 


My sister has cats she trained to recognize words and do things associated with those words, the cat seems to be using a sort of language in that regard..( of course the tasty treat at the end is probably all the cat is really thinking about).



posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 11:06 PM
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anonentity
So is language required for thinking, or just needed to transfer said thoughts to another person.?


Yes on the second part. Kind of. A musician is sitting there fiddling with his guitar. His thoughts are on music only. If he's the type who writes it out, we all know that writing music is a series of symbols and not words. The musician doesn't think in symbols obviously, but it's the "language" needed so other musicians can read what he came up with so they can play their own instruments in tandem with it. Unless you're Paul McCartney who never did learn how to write music. Or Elton John who did things the reverse of everyone else in that he used language, Taupins words, to "visualize" the music. Look it up, that was their M.O.When you hear music, it "communicates" with your emotions. The type of music you hear will dictate what you feel......we all know this.

A fiction writer is sitting there writing a novel. Many writers visualize what they write before they put it into words. Before the advent of language, those visualizations were transferred through cave paintings. They have unearthed so many cave paintings that actually tell stories through images. Fast forward to a time when people have language. When a person is sitting there reading what is being written, they can visualize certain parts of the story through the words written. They don't need to speak the words to understand what is being written.

So no, you don't need a language to be able to communicate with others. Artistic people communicate with others without words all the time.


edit on 9-2-2014 by Taupin Desciple because: (no reason given)



posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 11:06 PM
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reply to post by Dianec
 


Great post.

In fact, deaf children and blind people (who learn braille) undergo radical cortical reorganization in the early years of life which serves to expand their awareness of the subtle differences which normal people don't notice. In the case of the deaf, neural fibres in the visual cortex (in the occipital lobe) migrate into the unused auditory cortex (in the temporal lobe) augmenting perception of hand gestures and lip reading. In blind people, neural fibres from the auditory and somatosensory cortices migrate into the visual cortex (occipital lobe) which gives them improved hearing and sense of touch.

For the deaf, nuances in hand signals are able to replicate the nuances in language, granting them the same range of intellectual function as people who use spoken language. It actually is amazing how well hand signals can serve as language.



posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 11:18 PM
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reply to post by nwtrucker
 


But you can't understand language without concepts. It's not like evolution occurred in a vacuum: concepts and language evolved TOGETHER.

Look at apes for example. They communicate via affective signals - each contains a type of rudimentary concept so that another will understand them. Presumably, humans had to EVOLVE to get to where we are today, and it was largely via the spoken word - language - that our conceptual organs (in the frontal lobe) evolved. So even though these conceptual organs can represent concepts in ways besides the spoken language, it likely evolved WITH language, which explains the large chunk of brain - brocas areas, which handles language.



posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 11:25 PM
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reply to post by Astrocyte
 





Medial cortical structures and subcortical medial structures are the most ancient parts of our brain, and they deal mostly with consolidating affective experience with the various needs that animals require i.e. seeking (for food), rage and fear (to protect itself) lust (to reproduce) care (in the case of mammals, to enhance survivability) and play (also in mammals, to foster social skills and seeking prowess).



I'm not a smart guy. Expletive, I just got burned by my cigarette. I jerked my hand away so hard I slapped myself.

Can you explain what you just said? I went a Googling and am still confused.



posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 11:28 PM
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reply to post by anonentity
 

Doesn't thinking imply thought? And unless thinking "outloud" and verbalizing it...why would thought need speech? What about reading? Watching? The deaf as well?



posted on Feb, 9 2014 @ 11:34 PM
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reply to post by Astrocyte
 


Great information. They have strengths that we do not. It's simply a matter of what kind of communication - and it doesn't matter which. Isn't it Stephen Hawking who now talks through a computer. We find other ways is all. Thanks for the wonderful description.



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