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  1. Behind the scenes
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    24 Feb '18 22:46
    Can rational thought exist without language?
  2. Standard membervivify
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    24 Feb '18 23:12
    Originally posted by @mchill
    Can rational thought exist without language?
    Animals avoid predators without any known language. They also seek mates, norm societies with hierarchies (alpha makes and such), play, build homes, make care of young and bonds.

    Babies exhibit rational thought as well.

    Or do you have a different idea of rational thought in mind?
  3. Unknown Territories
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    24 Feb '18 23:42
    Originally posted by @mchill
    Can rational thought exist without language?
    The more interesting question:

    "Can not-language exist?"

    What if they're inextricably intertwined?
  4. Standard membershavixmir
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    25 Feb '18 20:29
    Originally posted by @mchill
    Can rational thought exist without language?
    We were always taught that you can’t think without language.

    I’ve always sort of thought it was a given and have never really contemplated the issue.

    Do birds think? Is that tweeting a language?

    Do babies think? I don’t think so. I’m quite positive their reactions are not contemplated.
  5. Joined
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    25 Feb '18 20:351 edit
    Originally posted by @mchill
    Can rational thought exist without language?
    Even if you don't speak, you think in a language.

    I dream in Afrikaans or Japanese very occasionally, but English is very entrenched in my brain. I doubt it could be supplanted by another language, even if I left the anglosphere.

    I say that but most of my afrikaans friends say they think in English. So did my tutor at school and she moved from Strasbourg in 2010. She had a thick French accent and didn't speak English before coming here to SA, so maybe it's possible to supplant your mother tongue, although English is more dominant than other languages.

    I don't think it can exist without language.
  6. Joined
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    25 Feb '18 21:15
    Originally posted by @mchill
    Can rational thought exist without language?
    If by 'rational' is meant the movement from a thesis through an antithesis to a synthesis and round again, the movement involves the representation of change which representation requires a language.
    Additionally, Wittgenstein teaches us that there is no private language possible. By definition language involves a 'speaker' and a 'listener' on some common ground.
    We learn more and more about languages, other than those most commonly thought of, every day, from mathematics to the dolphins and whales and birds.
    Our popular understanding is parochial and simplistic.
  7. SubscriberWOLFE63
    Tra il dire e il far
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    26 Feb '18 00:43
    Originally posted by @stevemcc
    If by 'rational' is meant the movement from a thesis through an antithesis to a synthesis and round again, the movement involves the representation of change which representation requires a language.
    Additionally, Wittgenstein teaches us that there is no private language possible. By definition language involves a 'speaker' and a 'listener' on some common ...[text shortened]... cs to the dolphins and whales and birds.
    Our popular understanding is parochial and simplistic.
    I think...therefore I am...I think.

    - The Moody Blues
  8. Joined
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    26 Feb '18 01:40
    Originally posted by @mchill
    Can rational thought exist without language?
  9. Seongnam, S. Korea
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    26 Feb '18 01:56
    Originally posted by @mchill
    Can rational thought exist without language?
    Yes, because it could theoretically happen solely in terms of geospatial processing.
  10. Unknown Territories
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    26 Feb '18 01:59
    Originally posted by @philokalia
    Yes, because it could theoretically happen solely in terms of geospatial processing.
    How would such a thing manifest itself, if not in language?
  11. Seongnam, S. Korea
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    26 Feb '18 04:04
    Originally posted by @freakykbh
    How would such a thing manifest itself, if not in language?
    Think about it in the sense of a baseball player who is swinging a bat. All of his posturing and arms movement is towards connecting with the ball while the speed of such a thing is beyond any speed we would normally think.

    There's probably a lot of other sports analogies that would also affirm this sort of thing.

    I would also say this... Animals are technically languageless even though they can understand single words... This is because grammar is considered a necessary part of language by most linguists, otherwise it is nothing more than, say, the rote association of noise and object.

    So animals, who can do rudimentary reasoning, do so without language.
  12. Joined
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    26 Feb '18 05:37
    Originally posted by @philokalia
    Think about it in the sense of a baseball player who is swinging a bat. All of his posturing and arms movement is towards connecting with the ball while the speed of such a thing is beyond any speed we would normally think.

    There's probably a lot of other sports analogies that would also affirm this sort of thing.

    I would also say this... Animals ...[text shortened]... n of noise and object.

    So animals, who can do rudimentary reasoning, do so without language.
    They do it with language too. Vocalized warning signals like monkey's warnings of snakes are examples of "spoken language." I do not know if pissing on rocks to mark territory is to be considered as language, but it works among those who can smell it. Bees go back to the hive and dance about where to go for pollen. There are way too many anthropocentric assumptions being made here.
  13. Seongnam, S. Korea
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    26 Feb '18 05:46
    Gazzanigga's book entitled [u]Human[/u] argued quite strongly that language is solely the realm of humans.

    To say that the signaling between animals constitutes an entire langauge is not actually accurate.

    We'd basically then need to have another way to describe human interaction.

    Like... I do not want to sound that I am being petty and nitpicky on this point but that is what I think is most fair to the integrity of how we define what a language is.
  14. Subscribermoonbus
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    26 Feb '18 06:11
    Originally posted by @mchill
    Can rational thought exist without language?
    First of all, what constitutes rational thought is not a simple matter. It is not on or off, but admits of gradations.

    Secondly, the boundary between language and communicating is not a line, but a rather vague gray area. Dogs, for example, respond to simple commands; one can communicate with them; but if you put a dog in a kennel, it will not understand that its master will be coming back the next day or next week.

    One of my professors in college told me of a man she knew who was mute. He never learned to speak, read, or write; I believe he was quite deaf. He could however do odd jobs around the village. She explained that one could point out to him a pile of wood and give him an axe, and he would understand that he was to chop the wood. He would then hold up his hand with the index finger and thumb forming a circle to indicate how much money he expected for doing the job. One could 'negotiate' a price with him in this manner. He was fond of drink and would spend his wages down at the pub. One day, the price of a pint went up, and "Dummy Locke" (so he was called by the villagers) started asking more money for the same work. So he had grasped the concept of inflation.

    I think this is conclusive evidence of rational thought without language. Not entirely without communicating, however.

    On the other hand, the case of Helen Keller is illuminating. It wasn't until someone got through to her and taught her language (words for things and above all grammar) that her mind woke up and her inner life became more than merely a struggle to satisfy immediate wants and needs, that she became capable of rational thought. I doubt that Dummy Locke ever got past the mere struggle to satisfy immediate wants and needs.

    Some species of monkeys have calls to warn others in their troop of dangers and threats: the "eagle" call means run and hide in the tall grass, the "snake" call means climb up in the trees, etc. These calls have been recorded and played to monkeys of the same species but which lived some distance away (they did not interbreed). The monkeys all responded in the same way to the same calls, so we may assume that this level of communication has a genetic component (or is "hardwired" as some would say). One particular troop of monkeys was hunted by men with dogs; a danger other troops were not exposed to. This one particular troop of monkeys developed a new call, "man with dog" (I do not recall what defensive action this call triggered). When this call was played back to other troops, the other monkeys did not re-act. So we may assume that this call was learned behavior, not hardwired. This represents a small but significant step up the evolutionary ladder, from mere communicating towards language.
  15. Joined
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    26 Feb '18 14:31
    nOriginally posted by @philokalia
    Gazzanigga's book entitled [u]Human[/u] argued quite strongly that language is solely the realm of humans.

    To say that the signaling between animals constitutes an entire langauge is not actually accurate.

    We'd basically then need to have another way to describe human interaction.

    Like... I do not want to sound that I am being petty and nitpi ...[text shortened]... oint but that is what I think is most fair to the integrity of how we define what a language is.
    IF Michael Gazzaniga wants to define the word in a certain way and can get agreement, so be it. We can use "communication" as a broader term for the imparting of ideas by observable, conventional actions..But by defining "language" as solely a human action and limiting rational thought to language-users, we limit rational thought to humans, merely by the choice of definition. That isn't thought provoking.
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