What if you are aware of the shape of the chair in front of you and then respond by moving the chair out of your way while walking? What if not a single word passes through your head before doing this, just a visualization of you moving the chair?
I'm sure language shapes thought, but it's not the only form of thought.
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."
When you are solving a IQ test that only involves shapes and pure logic...You don't necessarily use language to determine the answers.You might be a person that likes to talk to your self when you think about logical tasks...But you can definitely do it without talking and using words ...
The answer to this question of obvious. Thought was needed to create language so it must not be based on it.
Complex answer. Not an answer at all but an observation. Although Helen Keller was not born deaf and blind, she became that way at after a mysterious illness at age 19 months. Although Helen Keller was deaf and blind she earn a college degree so it is safe to say she was a thinker. I point her out because she lost 2 of her 5 senses. The deaf most often communicate visually but Helen Keller could not. The blind often communicate with hearing and touch. Helen Keller only had touch. So when she was young she only had her sense of smell, touch, and taste. No of which are good for developing language. Yet with practice she learned to communicate via braille, reading lips with her hand, and also reading sign language with her hands. She also learned to talk which must have been difficult since she could not hear.
It depends what is meant by "thought" and what is meant by "language". In terms of the relationship between any mode of communication and any form of complex analysis, of course there is thought without language in the traditional, spoken sense. One must take the deaf into consideration when thinking about this. They are obviously perfectly capable of philosophizing and analyzing just as anyone who has access to spoken language and they can only communicate by signing. As for emotions and base-level observations, less analytical "thoughts", most people believe that animals' metal capacities extend at least to that point.
Some dreams are so lucid and abstract, that there are aren't words or concepts to describe them in any earthly language. There were concepts in which I understood, but didn't think about them in a linear way through words as a child, and now I have the language to describe what I was feeling. Feelings are thoughts, and true complex feelings don't match up with regular thoughts in which you process through language. It's the aspect that scientists cannot grasp or understand about the brain, because our form of communication is only language.
We often link the idea of thought with verbalising our ideas. When we reason, we often use our 'inner voice' in order to come up with an argument, as doing so helps is to produce strong and coherent points, which allow us to explain information and opinions . Right now, I am using my inner voice to form a coherent argument about thought and language. When forming an argument in an essay, I will often find myself walking around the room, saying what I wish to write, in order to better understand the points I wish to convey. In this example, I need language in order to ensure that I can competently explain my thoughts to someone who may not be familiar with the topic.
However, it would be wrong to state that thought is only used on a linguistic level. Take the example of a dog or a child who is yet to acquire its mother tongue. Though they do not have the linguistic capabilities of a fully-grown adult, they are still able to solve problems, react to events and imitate, all of which need a thought process. If you give a child a range of shapes, all of which correspond to a hole in a box, the child, after experimenting, deduces that the shape will only fit through the corresponding hole in the box. This shows us that thought with regards to problem solving does not need language. Likewise, if you give an adult a labyrinth puzzle, they are able to think about the scenarios and steps needed in order to escape without verbalisation. So long as they understand the principles 'turn left' 'turn right' 'dead end' and 'escape the labyrinth' they should be able to solve the puzzle without words.
We are also able to recall images, songs and memories, all of which don't necessarily include language. When a composer is arranging a new work, they do not need to verbalise their thoughts as their end result depends on melody. Perhaps we may conclude that we may need language when we are THINKING or explaining our thoughts, but our thoughts are more of a passive action and do not need language in order to remember something, solve a problem or recall information
Think about this. Language is nothing more than information. When you think about something, even if it's only remembering a melody or a picture, you're thinking about information. Even remembering a color is remembering information. It may not be words, but it is still a language. A non verbal language.
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?
According to the linguistic determinism, language determines what we think. Langauge is simply a communication. Which means sign language is also a language. Because they use them to speak out the words, when people think, they have to think of names. Because when we think about chair, how would our brain knows if we don't have a name for it. That's where linguistic relativity hypothesis comes into play = NO LANGUAGE = NO THOUGHTS