The Naked Scientists

The Naked Scientists Forum

Author Topic: Is most thought not in linguistic form?  (Read 4219 times)

Offline coberst

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 292
    • View Profile
Is most thought not in linguistic form?
« on: 02/12/2008 21:24:52 »
Most Thought is NOT in Linguistic Form

Mammals evolved on this planet about 200 million years ago. One type of mammal, the hominid, began using audible signals to convey meaning about 4 million years ago. Language, as we comprehend that word, began much less than 4 million years ago.

What is thought? The dictionary gives us various definitions of thought; I would guess that it is accurate to say that the actions of neural networks that control our sensorimotor actions can be regarded as thought. In other words, such things as memory, control of movements, and processing of sense inputs are all a process of thinking. Thinking produces thoughts. Thinking goes on all the time even while we sleep.

I guess that we will agree that all mammals had to have the ability to think. This leads to the conclusion that thinking was been happening on this planet at least 200 million years before human language existed on this planet.

Those individuals who accept the science of evolution must then conclude that humans may think in linguistic forms some small percentage of the time but that most thought is not in linguistic form.

“It is the rule of thumb among cognitive scientists that unconscious thought is 95 percent of all thought—and that may be a serious underestimates.”

What does all this mean to you? It means that most of the things that you think are true about thinking are pure non-sense. This also applies to many of the things we all believe that are based upon the philosophical attitudes that fills our life are likewise pure non-sense.

How can we overcome this avalanche of pure nonsense that we learn from our culture via social osmosis?


Quotes from “Philosophy in the Flesh”—Lakoff and Johnson
« Last Edit: 08/12/2008 20:46:50 by chris »


 

Offline Soul Surfer

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 3345
  • keep banging the rocks together
    • View Profile
    • ian kimber's web workspace
Re: Is most thought not in linguistic form?
« Reply #1 on: 02/12/2008 23:47:30 »
This statements suggest that they are following a rational process but they contain serious gaps in the reasoning and so is not a valid proposal.  It therefore needs to be revised and clarified before any rational comment is possible.  The most serious gap in understanding occurs between the paragraph starting  "What does all this mean to you?" and the previous paragraph
 

Offline coberst

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 292
    • View Profile
Re: Is most thought not in linguistic form?
« Reply #2 on: 03/12/2008 10:49:22 »
Cognitive science, as delineated in “Philosophy in the Flesh” by Lakoff and Johnson, presents a new paradigm for cognitive science.  This new paradigm might be called the “conceptual metaphor” paradigm.  The theory is that experiences form into concepts and some of these concepts are called “primary metaphors”.  These ‘primary metaphors’ are often unconsciously mapped from the originating mental space onto another mental space that is a subjective concept, i.e. abstract concept.

Physical experiences of all kinds lead to conceptual metaphors from which perhaps hundreds of ‘primary metaphors’, which are neural structures resulting from sensorimotor experiences, are created.  These primary metaphors provide the ‘seed bed’ for the judgments and subjective experiences in life.  “Conceptual metaphor is pervasive in both thought and language.”  It is hard to think of a common subjective experience that is not conventionally conceptualized in terms of metaphor.

Metaphors can kill and metaphors can heal.  Metaphor can be a neural structure that provides a conscious means for comprehending an unknown and metaphor can be a neural structure that is unconsciously mapped (to be located) from one mental space onto another mental space.  There is empirical evidence to justify the hypothesis that the brain will, in many circumstances, copy the neural structure from one mental space onto another mental space.

Linguistic metaphors are learning aids.  We constantly communicate our meaning by using linguistic metaphors; we use something already known to communicate the meaning of something unknown.  Many metaphors, labeled as primary metaphors by cognitive science, are widespread throughout many languages.  These widespread metaphors are not innate; they are learned.  “There appear to be at least several hundred such widespread, and perhaps universal, metaphors.”

Primary metaphors have this widespread characteristic because they are products of our common biology.  Primary metaphors are embodied; they result from human experience, they “are part of the cognitive unconscious.”

Metaphor is a standard means we have of understanding an unknown by association with a known.  When we analyze the metaphor ‘bad is stinky’ we will find that we are making a subjective judgment wherein the olfactory sensation becomes the source of the judgment.  ‘This movie stinks’ is a subjective judgment and it is made in this manner because a sensorimotor experience is the structure for making this judgment.

CS is claiming that the neural structure of sensorimotor experience is mapped onto the mental space for another experience that is not sensorimotor but subjective and that this neural mapping becomes part of the subjective concept.  The sensorimotor experience serves the role of an axiom for the subjective experience.


Physical experiences of all kinds lead to conceptual metaphors from which perhaps hundreds of ‘primary metaphors’, which are neural structures resulting from sensorimotor experiences, are created.  These primary metaphors provide the ‘seed bed’ for the judgments and subjective experiences in life.  “Conceptual metaphor is pervasive in both thought and language.  It is hard to think of a common subjective experience that is not conventionally conceptualized in terms of metaphor.”

The neural network created by the sensorimotor function when an infant is embraced becomes a segment of the neural network when that infant creates the subjective experience of affection.  Thus—affection is warmth.

An infant is born and when embraced for the first time by its mother the infant experiences the sensation of warmth.  In succeeding experiences the warmth is felt along with other sensations.

Empirical data verifies that there often happens a conflation of this sensation experience together with the development of a subjective (abstract) concept we can call affection.  With each similar experience the infant fortifies both the sensation experience and the affection experience and a little later this conflation aspect ends and the child has these two concepts in different mental spaces.

This conflation leads us to readily recognize the metaphor ‘affection is warmth’.

Cognitive science hypothesizes that conceptual metaphors resulting from conflation emerges in two stages: during the conflation stage two distinct but coactive domains are established that remain separate for only a short while at which time they lose their coactive characteristic and become differentiated into metaphorical source and target.

I find that this ‘conceptual metaphor’ paradigm is a great means for comprehending the human condition.  But, like me, you will have to study the matter for a long time before you will be able to make a judgment as to its value.  This book “Philosophy in the Flesh” by Lakoff and Johnson, from which I derived these ideas and quotes, is filled with ideas that are new to the reader and thus studying it will require a good bit of perseverance.

Have you ever, before reading this post, thought that the brain unconsciously copies the neural structure from one mental space onto another mental space?   Those who find this idea compelling will discover, in this new cognitive science paradigm, a completely new way of thinking about philosophy and human nature. 

This new cognitive science paradigm is the best thing to happen to philosophy since Thales!  How about them apples?


 

Offline Don_1

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 6890
  • Thanked: 7 times
  • A stupid comment for every occasion.
    • View Profile
    • Knight Light Haulage
Re: Is most thought not in linguistic form?
« Reply #3 on: 03/12/2008 10:57:06 »
Coberst, your post here contains a statement which flies in the face of just about all your previous posts.

Quote
Mammals evolved on this planet about 200 million years ago.

I rest my case m'lord.
 

lyner

  • Guest
Re: Is most thought not in linguistic form?
« Reply #4 on: 03/12/2008 16:23:30 »
It depends on what you mean by 'thought'. If you can describe it then you are probably verbalising it so....
 

Offline coberst

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 292
    • View Profile
Re: Is most thought not in linguistic form?
« Reply #5 on: 03/12/2008 18:14:29 »
Coberst, your post here contains a statement which flies in the face of just about all your previous posts.

Quote
Mammals evolved on this planet about 200 million years ago.



I rest my case m'lord.

I do not see what you are talkig about.
 

Online Bored chemist

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 8675
  • Thanked: 42 times
    • View Profile
Re: Is most thought not in linguistic form?
« Reply #6 on: 03/12/2008 19:11:09 »
Who cares about the ancient history?
OK the idea has been put forward that much thought is not verbal.
OK that doesn't sem totally unreasonable to me. I know babies learn to speak, but before that they learn other things. It seems plausible that, at that age, all their thought is non verbal.
Also when somebody invented the (whatever) he had the idea for it then invented the word.
The idea must have preceded the word so that thought too must have been non verbal.

My question is; to whom does this matter and why?
 

Offline yor_on

  • Naked Science Forum GOD!
  • *******
  • Posts: 12001
  • Thanked: 4 times
  • (Ah, yes:) *a table is always good to hide under*
    • View Profile
Re: Is most thought not in linguistic form?
« Reply #7 on: 04/12/2008 19:33:01 »
Nice post Bored chemist.

Well, you have the idea of 'satori' enlightenment.
In Zen they are said to use koan's as a tool for achieving it.
'What is the sound of clapping with one hand'.

Most meditations are about stopping 'words'.
 

Offline Make it Lady

  • Neilep Level Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 4050
  • Hands-on fun for everyone!
    • View Profile
Re: Is most thought not in linguistic form?
« Reply #8 on: 04/12/2008 22:21:01 »
Thinking, when we are babies and tots, is completely different to when we start to grasp language and verbalise our thoughts. It shows by the way we form our memories. If you think back to your first memories you will find that they are not linear. They come without a concept of time. After about the age of 4 or 5, when our verbal skills are better developed, we start to remember our thoughts in a linear fashion. (when I was 6 I fell off a horse, when I was eight I went abroad for the first time etc.) This is because we are able to verbalise and catalogue our thoughts.   
 

Offline coberst

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 292
    • View Profile
Is most thought not in linguistic form?
« Reply #9 on: 09/12/2008 10:13:04 »
Experience is structured in a fundamental way before any concepts, invigorated by sense data, are constructed.  Existing preconceptual structures affect newly developing structures of what we experience.

We have preconceptual structures that await any new experience and perhaps the most fundamental of these is the container schema.
  This container schema has a boundary that distinguishes the container’s interior from the exterior.

With a little thought we can find dozens of instances during the day when we distinguish in-out activities.  We emerge out of a deep sleep and into the morning sunlight; we get out of bed and go to the kitchen to take the bread from the bread box and place the slices into the toaster.

The CONTAINER SCHEMA:

We conceptualize an enormous number of activities in CONTAINER terms.  The container schema (a mental codification of experience that includes a particular organized way of perceiving cognitively) is a spatial-relations concept that all advanced neural creatures impose upon acts of perception and conception.

There is a spatial logic inherent in the container schema; it is axiomatic that given two containers, A and B, and an object, X, if A is in B and X is in A, then X is in B.  The container schema like all image schemas can be imposed on what we hear, on what we see, and on our motor movements; such schemas are cross-modal.

The container schema is a fundamental spatial-relations concept that allows us to draw important inferences.  This natural container format is the source for our logical inferences that are so obvious to us when we view Venn diagrams.  If container A is in container B and B is in container C, then A is in C. 

A container schema is a gestalt (a functional unit) figure with an interior, an exterior, and a boundary—the parts make sense only as part of the whole.  Container schemas are cross-modal—“we can impose a conceptual container schema on a visual scene…on something we hear, as when we conceptually separate out one part of a piece of music from another…This structure is topological in the sense that the boundary can be made larger, smaller, or distorted and still remain the boundary of a container schema…Image schemas have a special cognitive function: They are both perceptual and conceptual in nature.  As such, they provide a bridge between language and reasoning on the one hand and vision on the other.”

The PART-WHOLE Schema:

We conceptualize our self as a whole with parts.  Families are conceptualized as a whole with parts.  “The general concept of structure itself is a metaphorical projection of the CONFIGURATION aspect of PART-WHOLE STRUCTURE.  When we understand two things as being isomorphic, we mean that their parts stand in the same configuration to the whole.”

Basic Logic: If the WHOLE exists then the PARTS exist.   The PARTS can exist while the WHOLE may not exist.  “We have evolved so that our basic-level perception can distinguish the fundamental PART-WHOLE structure that we need in order to function in our physical environment.”

There are a few more but this gives you an idea of how SGCS (Second Generation Cognitive Science) claims that we structure our reality.

Quotes from “Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind” by George Lakoff


 

Offline techmind

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 934
  • Un-obfuscated
    • View Profile
    • techmind.org
Is most thought not in linguistic form?
« Reply #10 on: 09/12/2008 22:22:32 »
Most Thought is NOT in Linguistic Form
...
I guess that we will agree that all mammals had to have the ability to think. This leads to the conclusion that thinking was been happening on this planet at least 200 million years before human language existed on this planet.

Those individuals who accept the science of evolution must then conclude that humans may think in linguistic forms some small percentage of the time but that most thought is not in linguistic form.

The statement is bold is not logically inferred from the previous statements.

The previous statements assert that thought is possible without language, which I cannot dispute.
However, there is absolutely nothing to infer with regard to how much language may or may not become involved in the thought of people who use language.

While I perceive that some of my thoughts are formed "in English", some of my thoughts may be totally abstract, and others are, while not quite mathematical, perceived as a visualisable model, or as a mathematic-like concept (I'm a physicist/electronics/signal-processing/image-processing person).


It has been asserted (I listened to a documentary) that when people remember phone numbers in their heads, some have a mental PICTURE of the number, while others remember the SOUND - "say the number in their head". If, during the process of recall, you present audible distractions then you confuse the people who remember by sound, while it takes a visual distraction to upset those who remember the shapes of the numbers. All rather amusing, but again I'm not sure where it leads.

Find someone who is very fluent in multiple languages, and ask them in what language they "think". It all makes for amusing philsophical discussions, but I don't know that it often leads anywhere useful.
 

The Naked Scientists Forum

Is most thought not in linguistic form?
« Reply #10 on: 09/12/2008 22:22:32 »

 

SMF 2.0.10 | SMF © 2015, Simple Machines
SMFAds for Free Forums