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Debates Forum

  1. Subscribermoonbus
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    26 Feb '18 19:19
    Originally posted by @js357
    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.
    Language is not simply a heap of words which stand for things or actions. Language also encompasses grammar, tenses, and abstraction. It is grammar which makes the difference between "Kasparov beat Karpov" and "Karpov beat Kasparov." It is tenses which make the difference between "Kasparov beat Karpov yesterday" and "Kasparov is beating Karpov right now." It is abstraction which makes sense of "Kasparov would beat Karpov if they were to play tomorrow."

    Some animals communicate by means of grunts or squeaks or hoots or chirps, and these serve to attract attention or to warn of immediate dangers, but we have yet to detect anything in the animal kingdom equivalent to grammar, tenses, and abstractions. The 'dance' of the honey bee which describes a vector towards nectar-producing flowers is impressive, I must admit. I would not say that language is either on or off; it is a matter of subtle gradations, and some aspects of animal communication are surprisingly close to some aspects of human language. It's the total package, not some arbitrary definition or one single factor, which makes up a language.
  2. SubscriberSuzianne
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    26 Feb '18 23:32
    Originally posted by @whodey
    Nope, no rational thought there, although you manage that even with language.
  3. Joined
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    26 Feb '18 23:36
    Originally posted by @moonbus
    Language is not simply a heap of words which stand for things or actions. Language also encompasses grammar, tenses, and abstraction. It is grammar which makes the difference between "Kasparov beat Karpov" and "Karpov beat Kasparov." It is tenses which make the difference between "Kasparov beat Karpov yesterday" and "Kasparov is beating Karpov right now." I ...[text shortened]... he total package, not some arbitrary definition or one single factor, which makes up a language.
    "Language also encompasses grammar, tenses, and abstraction"
    there can be language without these.

    "It is grammar which makes the difference between "Kasparov beat Karpov" and "Karpov beat Kasparov.""
    if you were a telepath, couldn't you evoke in someone else's brain the image of kasparov beating karpov? the bee that you mentioned is clearly communicating. it is not yet intelligent but does that mean there can be no alien species that evolved from a hive mind kind of insect that communicates exactly like our bees? that there can't be clouds of sentient farts that communicate through chemical reactions within them?

    grammar is not the mark of intelligence.


    "It is tenses which make the difference between "Kasparov beat Karpov yesterday" and "Kasparov is beating Karpov right now.""
    some languages have no tenses. what you gave as example is redundant. English has tenses exactly so they can forego qualifiers like "yesterday" and "now". You can however communicate clearly by never changing the form of the verb and just adding "X units of time before/after event Y" or "before/after" present.

    "It is abstraction which makes sense of "Kasparov would beat Karpov if they were to play tomorrow.""
    and you can communicate this through an elaborate dance that depicts the concept of karpov getting beaten by the concept of kasparov and just add a little but clench at the end to illustrate it is a hypothesis and not an event that actually happened.
  4. Joined
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    26 Feb '18 23:44
    Originally posted by @mchill
    Can rational thought exist without language?
    language is merely thought made form to something that can be understood by a target and not just the origin.


    rational thought can exist without language just as water can exist without buckets. if you own a lake of water, that water is real. you give water to someone else with a bucket. or a jar. or a cup. there are many ways to give water to someone else. sometimes that someone else must take your bucket and pour it in bowls as they don't understand buckets.
  5. Unknown Territories
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    27 Feb '18 03:49
    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.
    Spot, get ball, bring here, maybe get treat.
    Good Spot.
  6. Seongnam, S. Korea
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    27 Feb '18 03:51
    Originally posted by @js357
    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.
    Aw, but this is where I say that you can behave and act rationally without language, such as a wolf or an ape or even a lizard who is capable of geopsatial reasoning in choosing a route through obstacles.
  7. Seongnam, S. Korea
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    27 Feb '18 03:52
    Originally posted by @freakykbh
    Spot, get ball, bring here, maybe get treat.
    Good Spot.
    What's interesting about this is that this would be the entire inner dialogue of a dog.

    In a sense... If we believe that all animals have an internal dialogue, and that actions are not performed from a purely instinctual basis (or at least not rational actions), we really are suggesting a sort of mind-body dualism.

    Not necessarily something as extreme as Descartes but it is still a bit out there and away from how a lot of people would perceive the situation.
  8. Standard memberwolfgang59
    Mr. Wolf
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    27 Feb '18 13:15
    Originally posted by @zahlanzi
    "Language also encompasses grammar, tenses, and abstraction"
    there can be language without these.

    I don't think there can be language without grammar.
    "rabbit" "to eat"

    = rabbit eats
    = rabbit ate
    =rabbit will eat
    = ate rabbit

    etc
  9. Joined
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    27 Feb '18 14:28
    Originally posted by @wolfgang59
    I don't think there can be language without grammar.
    "rabbit" "to eat"

    = rabbit eats
    = rabbit ate
    =rabbit will eat
    = ate rabbit

    etc
    rabbit eats yesterday
    rabbit eats five minutes ago
    rabbit eats 1 hour after another rabbit eats
    rabbit eats in 5 days
    wolf eats rabbit
    rabbit no eats
    rabbit eats question



    ofc, if you define grammar as "any rules used to communicate thought" then you can also say that bees use grammar when dancing the location of a flower field or that ants use grammar when using their pheromones to communicate.

    just saying that grammar in the classical sense it's not absolutely needed to have a language.
  10. Joined
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    27 Feb '18 15:131 edit
    Originally posted by @zahlanzi
    rabbit eats yesterday
    rabbit eats five minutes ago
    rabbit eats 1 hour after another rabbit eats
    rabbit eats in 5 days
    wolf eats rabbit
    rabbit no eats
    rabbit eats question



    ofc, if you define grammar as "any rules used to communicate thought" then you can also say that bees use grammar when dancing the location of a flower field or that ants us ...[text shortened]...
    just saying that grammar in the classical sense it's not absolutely needed to have a language.
    One of the most grammatically demanding higher level computer programming languages is (was) Fortran. Of course the computer didn’t’ really run Fortran, the program had to be compiled (translated?) into machine code (assembly language?)

    Just saying it may be useful to consider computer programming as a form of communication and use of language.
  11. Joined
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    27 Feb '18 20:50
    Originally posted by @zahlanzi
    language is merely thought made form to something that can be understood by a target and not just the origin.


    rational thought can exist without language just as water can exist without buckets. if you own a lake of water, that water is real. you give water to someone else with a bucket. or a jar. or a cup. there are many ways to give water to someon ...[text shortened]... s that someone else must take your bucket and pour it in bowls as they don't understand buckets.
    I'm afraid I don't think much of your analogy.
    Of course water can exist without buckets. The question is: is language necessary to rational thought. Buckets are self evidently not necessary to water.
    Better: Is water possible without hydrogen?
  12. Joined
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    27 Feb '18 22:462 edits
    Thinking of it this way might help: Can thought exist without language, then if so, can rational thought exist without language?

    Many animals including humans can recognize and distinguish other animals and humans by sight alone, implying the ability to compare a currently present visual image to on held in memory, and can make a friend, predator or prey decision, and act on that decision, tempered by such things as current hunger level. This seems like thought without language.

    Can we call that rational thought? It can be laid out like a decision tree, or algorithm, but does that mean the animal DID go through it that way?

    It might take too long.

    Which comes first, the knee jerk reaction, or the algorithm?
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