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  1. #31
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nightning View Post
    Thoughts from some Js are no more influenced by language then Ps... it should be based on what your dominant introverted function when it comes to thinking, whether that's perceiving or judging. Question about symbols... Where do the first words orginate from if not within the mind of an individual? Therefore somewhere way back in time... the first symbol was synthesized internally.

    Of course symbols were synthesized internally, they are made up of ideas anyways, but my point is that ideas do not depend on them for their existence.

  2. #32
    Junior Member Jezebel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JivinJeffJones View Post
    Ask Helen Keller.
    It's a good point. I think those deprived of language are good examples to study to see what thoughts are like without language.

    What's interesting about Helen Keller is that she wasn't born deafblind. She had a childhood illness that left her deaf and blind around the age of two, after she had already gotten a taste of learning language. Of course, she had only just began to form her first words and not communicate complex thoughts, but it was enough to lay down the groundwork. She did come up with simple gestures on her own to communicate to her family before Anne Sullivan came along. And once she was taught sign language as a child, she was able to fully grasp language and read and write, and it turned out she had lots of thoughts going on in her head. She even had memories of the time before she understood objects had names, and so the story goes.

    The thing is, at least from what I've read, it isn't the same case for people who are born deafblind. Those people who aren't taught language early on have tremendous difficulty grasping language, expressing rational thought and just taking care of themselves. The success rate is much higher with those who had gotten a taste of language (even if they couldn't speak yet) and later became deafblind.

    If someone is born deaf and blind and deprived of tactile communication, are they capable of rational thought?

    I don't consider reacting on instincts and comfort vs discomfort as being rational thought. I don't doubt that emotional thought, moods and feelings are possible. However, I consider rational thought as requiring structure (as from language or some other symbolism) to organize thoughts and use reason.

  3. #33
    Senior Member Bushranger's Avatar
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    I think it ties in with the working of long and short term memory.
    While reading this entry in the "Developing Intelligence" blog (which I recommend to people interested in cognition)
    http://scienceblogs.com/developingin..._like_a_co.php
    I found a link to this paper
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/q...&dopt=Abstract

    The suggestion is that short term memory makes extensive use of pointers to long term memory in order to avoid the difficulty of completely representing the entirety of a complex thought in the region that handles short term memory. It seems to me that our internal running conversations have to use words/symbols in the same way. If we don't abstract away concepts using these words/symbols then our ability to represent complex ideas in concious short term memory becomes severely limited.
    I'll get you my pretty, and your little hermit crab too!

  4. #34
    Lex Parsimoniae Xander's Avatar
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    Errm rational thinking? Of course language is necessary. No doubt about it.

    We understand things by defining them and pidgeon holing experiences. We then construct using these blocks as defined. The process of definition involves language in that to seperate things we have to label them and their connections. This labelling itself is a language.

    Now thought itself requires no language unless we believe that we are preprogramed with a language or don't think when we're born, which would make nasty implications into the whole abortion arguments.

    Now I recall Lee once mentioning Mentalese as the language your brain thinks in, not english nor german nor chinese.... Even if such were true then that is merely a language specific to that individual and whose inner language is then processed to produce the communicable form such as english.....

    That could actually explain why some people have trouble with words. Perhaps their conversion process is corrupted? If when taught how to convert their mentalese into english or whatever, because their brain worked differently than the one which the conversion process was made for (markedly different) then it causes the process to go haywire every so often.
    Isn't it time for a colourful metaphor?

  5. #35
    Senior Member HilbertSpace's Avatar
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    Holland (of genetic algorithm fame, and one of the early pioneers in what would come to be known as artificial life) said that one of the defining characteristics of an agent (which could be anything ranging from a bit of software to a bacterium to a person) was an internal model.

    The internal model can be thought of as a collection of states and transitions. We can use the word "language" to mean two things - the 'translation layer' that captures the transition between the environment and the internal model (including the dynamics of the model), and the code used to transmit model state in communication. In any case, I think we have to make note of the process of encoding - it is the 'code' that is the language.

    There is nothing in the word 'happy' that really means 'happy' - it's just the code. Likewise, there's no 'happy' in the Mandarin word 'xin.' Analogously, there's no 'happy' in a dog wagging its tail. Dogs evolved (first naturally, and later by breeding) the ability to communicate their internal state with other dogs and with people. It's speculated that one possible fitness-based reason that dogs which have any white whatsoever tend to have white on the tips of their tails is to make tail-signals easier to see, and it's believed that tail-wagging can communicate about a dozen different things depending on speed and the position the tail is held.

    When it comes to human models, you have a difference in the numerosity and richness of abstractions, but all life communicates via abstracted codes both internally and externally. So the situation is the same whether you're talking about bacteria flinging around molecules, dogs wagging their tails, or Bob saying "You know, I think the Yankees have a pretty good chance of taking it all the way this year."
    JBS Haldane's Four Stages of Scientific Theories:

    1. This is worthless nonsense.
    2. This is an interesting, but perverse, point of view.
    3. This is true, but quite unimportant.
    4. I always said so.

  6. #36
    Reigning Bologna Princess Rajah's Avatar
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    I've skimmed, so if I'm failing to touch on something, or touching on something erroneously... eh, sorry.



    First, there needs to be a clearer distinction between spoken and written language. Orthography is just a system to commit language to posterity, so we need to discuss oral communication.

    Which brings us to language acquisition. There are two big schools of thought regarding language acquisition (really scaled-down here).

    One is universal grammar (Chomsky, et al.) which basically says babies have an innate language-learning template. All humans have the same template. Based on what they're exposed to, kids figure out their native language's structure.

    The other approach is that language acquisition is more dependent on the acquirer interacting with his community.

    Here's a cool, basic article.

    Arguments for and against both positions are really, really complicated and technical, and frankly boring to 99% of the world (See Rajah's mediocre Syntax grade).


    We don't get to see many cases of adults or older kids who've had no language exposure, but the cases we have seen suggest maybe language might be a requirement (though there are obvious extenuating in these cases) for higher-level thought. See this. There's also a very famous story of a girl locked in a closet for years, who was basically a blank slate. Damn if I can remember her name... Meh.


    Second, I don't know that we're asking the right questions. Once we learn language it is tied up in everything we do. Language is you. You can't separate language from anything you're thinking about. Either (1) we all have an innate language template, and the question is moot, or (2) all but a very few exceptions are exposed to language at a really young age and formalize it before we are capable of full-blown rational thought, in which case the question is pretty much moot.


    Third, "Ceci n'est pas une pipe." I get that this argument is coming. I maintain language is too inextricably tied up in what we do to divorce it from our thoughts.


    Fourth, this post is convoluted. I'm sick of looking at it, so I'm going to post it.


    I... suppose. Yeah!

  7. #37
    Strongly Ambivalent Ivy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rajah View Post
    Second, I don't know that we're asking the right questions. Once we learn language it is tied up in everything we do. Language is you. You can't separate language from anything you're thinking about. Either (1) we all have an innate language template, and the question is moot, or (2) all but a very few exceptions are exposed to language at a really young age and formalize it before we are capable of full-blown rational thought, in which case the question is pretty much moot.
    This is EXACTLY what I was trying to say, but you've said it much more clearly.

  8. #38
    Tenured roisterer SolitaryWalker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    This is EXACTLY what I was trying to say, but you've said it much more clearly.
    There were many philosophers who asserted that we have an innate language template and that rational thought depends on linguistics for its existence. Among them, a very eminent thinker who is still alive today, Noam Chomsky.

    I think this is a mistake.

    There happened a terrible catastrophe over this just in the 20th century at the behest of a Linguistic Analyst Ludwig Wittgenstein who nearly commited philosophicide in a literal sense of the word.

    He insisted that everything that is meaningful can be spoken about very clearly, and all these confusing philosophical questions do not exist because we can not speak of them very clearly. Therefore, Ludwig says, whatever we can not speak about, we shall pass and silence. Oh, and by the way, Queer things happen in this world, this is all that I have really learned in my life.

    Than after him many Analytic Oxford philosophers took his method as set in stone and insisted that every philosophical questions is contingent upon how we use our words, so they went from working ideas to just solving word puzzles. The results were disastrous, we completely lost touch with all objectivity.

    We could not even talk about philosophy meaningfully because we kept on getting into fights over meanings of pesky words. This is what gave rise to Post-Modernism.

    This did not change untill Karl Popper a champion of objective knowledge argued that Truth is immutable, yet our perceptions always change. Therefore words at best document our perceptions of the truth and not the truth in itself and the reason why words are imprinted over our minds is because we have been exposed to them and the view that language is innate is non-sensical. We all have ideas in our minds that we can not find clear-cut words to express and there are many ways of expressing the same idea in different words, so it doesnt make sense that every single idea is attached to only one word. Hence he insists that we should be much more lax with the words that we use and be loyal to ideas, establish a method of communication where we understand what one another says, despite our linguistic prejudices. We can easily be using the same words to depict two different phenomena and we need to watch out for that. Hence it is ok to even make words up as Popper himself did, as long your discussion partner knows what you're saying.

    Basically, Popper's work in Conjectures and Refutations and Logic of Scientific Discovery spell shipwreck to Linguistical analysis and pretty much all notions about how language is necessary for rational thinking. Language is only necessary for recognition of rational thinking, rational thinking is contingent upon ideas and nothing else.

    Schopenhauer has foreseen this problem too and once noted 'Philosophy is a science in concepts, not a science of concepts'.

    In short CONCEPTS or WORDs... is not what philosophy should be dealing with.. it must transcend them.

  9. #39
    Reigning Bologna Princess Rajah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    In short CONCEPTS or WORDs... is not what philosophy should be dealing with.. it must transcend them.
    And because we're human, philosophy doesn't have a choice but to contend with limitations imposed by language.


    I... suppose. Yeah!

  10. #40
    Senior Member hereandnow's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryWalker View Post
    Schopenhauer has foreseen this problem too and once noted 'Philosophy is a science in concepts, not a science of concepts'.
    Seawolf/SW: You have killed Schopenhauer for so many. Please, in the course of a rather long response, give the poor bastard a break.

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