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  • I'm not really sure

    It is extremely difficult to come to ‘prove’ any point due to variables. You can’t find out how someone thinks/thought without language, as you need them to have a good grasp of it when they explain their thought process. Consequently, we don’t know if it their statement is true for the time, or they are projecting onto the event a thought process that they were able to take further (Complex) due to the introduction of language later in their lives. For example, in 1836, a deaf boy who had just learned how to speak at the age of 15 said that he thought that “perhaps the moon would strike me, and I thought that perhaps my parents were strong, and would fight the moon, and it would fail, and I mocked the moon.” A thought may have been present subconsciously (at the back of his mind), but has moved to his conscious mind with the aid of language.

  • Yes we can

    1) People who cannot speak can still play games such as charades. A person without language would also be able to play that game, which means that they would have the concept of what they’re acting out, and they could be able to think about what they are doing.
    Also, it happens to everyone that they have an idea but they can’t come up with the words to describe their idea, so this means that they have thought without language.

  • The Failure of Symbolic Thought. Running on Emptiness.

    James Shreeve, at the end of his Neanderthal Enigma (l995), provides a beautiful illustration of an alternative to symbolic being. Meditating upon what an earlier, non-symbolic consciousness might have been like, he calls forth important distinctions and possibilities:

    Where the modern's gods might inhabit the land, the buffalo, or the blade of grass, the Neanderthal's spirit was the animal or the grass blade, the thing and its soul perceived as a single vital force, with no need to distinguish them with separate names. Similarly, the absence of artistic expression does not preclude the apprehension of what is artful about the world. Neanderthals did not paint their caves with the images of animals. But perhaps they had no need to distill life into representations, because its essences were already revealed to their senses. The sight of a running herd was enough to inspire a surging sense of beauty. They had no drums or bone flutes, but they could listen to the booming rhythms of the wind, the earth, and each other's heartbeats, and be transported."

    Rather than celebrate the cognitive communion with the world that Shreeve suggests we once enjoyed, much less embark on the project of seeking to recover it, the use of symbols is of course widely considered the hallmark of human cognition. Goethe said, "Everything is a symbol," as industrial capitalism, milestone of mediation and alienation, took off. At about the same time Kant decided that the key to philosophy lies in the answer to the question, "What is the ground of the relation of that in us which we call 'representation' to the object?" Unfortunately, he divined for modern thought an ahistorical and fundamentally inadequate answer, namely that we are simply not constituted so as to be able to understand reality directly. Two centuries later (1981), Emmanuel Levinas came much closer to the mark with "Philosophy, in its very diachrony, is the consciousness of the breakup of consciousness."

  • Of course we can

    Let's look at the game of charades, or the art of mime, (exclude sign language, because it is a language).

    If you were to mime an activity (for example, eating food). That concept would be recognized around the world regardless of what language the person spoke or if language even existed.

    It gets more difficult to express complex thoughts through mime, but not impossible.

    Language is a tool to make it easier.

  • This should be obvious

    Anyone here ever have a thought or an idea but not be able to come up with the words to describe it? Able to picture or it imagine how it would feel but can't come up with the words? I have. And then sometimes I will come up with the words, sometimes after the fact. The french have a word for this, l'espirit de l'escalier" in the case of thinking of the perfect retort when it's too late. Although that doesn't even cover all possible "Thinking without language" cases.

  • Without a language we cannot think

    Take babies for example. They do not have a specified language but yes they think and they use their own understanding of language. Even a dog (though haven't experienced it personally) has some ways of communicating through their own language and they want to know what we are saying so they question themselves in their own language. This defines that without language thinking is impossible even if you take an example of an infant baby or an animal.

  • Do we think using language?

    This is a difficult one and I find myself unsure on whether a yes or no actually fits. I'd like a 'fence option' to this one to be honest. The difficulty with finding an answer is that the question of does thinking require language negates all that has gone into the evolution of life as it is today. If language were somehow to be taken from us tomorrow, would we still be able to think? Of course we would, the process of assessment and evaluation is conceptual and so whilst we would have no way of divulging our thoughts, the process would still exist. Would we have survived without any form of language? No of course not, life itself would not have continued without the ability to warn of predators, to call for a mate or to establish hierarchies. I say yes on the basis of language being taken away and thought process remaining.

  • Yes we can.

    Anything with a brain can think to a certain extent. Humans had to have thought in order to come up with a language in the first place. While we wouldn't be thinking in words, we'd still think. If you're determining whether or not you can throw something to a specific spot, that's thinking. You don't need a language to do that.

  • IT is possible to think without a language

    I and you eat and he and you and and and sad sad sad sad was was was was was was was was was was was was was was was was was was was was was was we we we e we we ew we we we we ew w

  • I think that as long as you have a brain it is possible to think.

    You can think visually it isn't necessary to think words. You can think skills/steps to do certain things which doesn't require words. For example deaf people they don't always know words,but they find a way to communicate so of course they are thinking. So to me there is no doubt it is possible to think without words.

  • No, we cannot think without a language.

    A processor cannot function without an readable/programmable/executable language. Language can exist in many forms, starting with the simple vowels in our daily speaking routines and ending up with the 0 and 1 in the processor example. Language is essential for survival, without it we won't be able to control this highly sophisticated biological machine that we are trapped in.

  • No we can not

    Language always existed because God needed a way to communicate with us so he made sure that we a had a built in communication system. Now it was not until man attempted to build the Tower of Babel that God injected numerous languages upon man to sabotage the construction and in doing so set the stage for today's languages.

  • YOU have no sense of self without language

    YOU have no sense of self without language, therefore the premises of the question is wrong. "I" is an abstract concept enforced by language. There is no real "I". Are you your thoughts? Are you your hair? How do you beat your own heart? There is in fact no I. Just as there are no lines of latitude and longitude running around the globe, they are an human abstraction invented to conceptualise an idea. The same as the concept of I. If, for example, you are your thoughts, who is the one who is observing those thoughts? When you inquire into this question, you may find that you are the void in which these thoughts occur. But without language, these concepts of self and I cannot be formed. In this baby like state of no language, you are the sounds and sights you see, you are nothing and everything at the same time. It is such an abstract reality and cannot be described with words. Without a sense of self there is no separation from the world around you. You are connected with everything. This is the state which a Buddhist would wish to ascertain AFTER learning a language.

  • We cannot think without language

    Language is defined as any set or system of such symbols as used in a more or less uniform fashion. It doesn't matter what these symbols are. But the information you collect throughout life, acknowledge and compare to each other are the creation of your language. The languages today are just someone's thoughts put to sound. And so, if we developed in isolation, the thoughts and reasoning created in our head would become our individual language. You cannot have one without the other, there is always some form of representation created in your mind.

  • No. Thought is talking to ourself.

    As a vehicle for thought pictures don't work because a picture is worth a thousand words. Thought requires specificity. Pictures are too wide open to interpretation. Language gets specific. A sentence has a specific subject, object and verb. The sentence structure is a mirror of the 3-in-one dynamics of consciousness (knower, known and process of knowing) at the basis of all creation.

  • No. Thought is talking to ourself.

    As a vehicle for thought pictures don't work because a picture is worth a thousand words. Thought requires specificity. Pictures are too wide open to interpretation. Language gets specific. A sentence has a specific subject, object and verb. The sentence structure is a mirror of the 3-in-one dynamics of consciousness (knower, known and process of knowing) at the basis of all creation.

  • Thought is self talk or inner dialogue.

    As a vehicle for thought pictures don't work because a picture is worth a thousand words. Thought requires specificity. Pictures are too wide open to interpretation. Language gets specific. A sentence has a specific subject, object and verb. The sentence structure is a mirror of the 3-in-one dynamics of consciousness (knower, known and process of knowing) at the basis of all creation.

  • Thought is impossible without a language to represent it.

    I am currently reading a book called "the crucible of consciousness", which outlines that thought is composed of a primary percept - the senseory representation of the thought, and a secondary percept - the equivalent word for the sensory representation. A thought is kept in the mind by an oscillation between the 2 hemispheres where these two different percept systems reside. An example of this idea of thought would be if you see a cat in your visual field, the primary percept of a cat is stimulated visually, and this visual representation stimulates the accompanying secondary percept - the word cat. Because the stimulation fades from the sensory system, the language system can restimulate the sensory system. In this oscillatory fasion, a percept or thought is able to be kept in mind, allowing planning and motor reaction.

    Now my question is, if this secondary percept area responsible for language and symbolic representation of the senses is never allowed to develop, is thought as we know it, the ability to represent something in the mind and manipulate this representation, even possible? Could this be a reason why species without sufficiently developed abilities to communicate and symbolically represent sensory contents are not capable of thought? Could we extend this idea to mental development of infants and assert that until sufficient symbolic representation of sensory contents has developed, thought is not possible?

  • Without a language we cannot think

    Take babies for example. They do not have a specified language but yes they think and they use their own understanding of language. Even a dog (though haven't experienced it personally) has some ways of communicating through their own language and they want to know what we are saying so they question themselves in their own language. This defines that without language thinking is impossible even if you take an example of an infant baby or an animal.


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