Originally posted by @wildgrass
Are thoughts a form of internal speech or do they exist independent of and prior to language?
I have given this question some thought and I think they exist independent of and prior to language.
I think this because of 3 reasons;
1, when I reason in my research about mathematics, I often notice no words come to my mind nor even maths symbols but rather I spend much of the time thinking purely intuitively and yet I still manage to problem-solve with such thinking purely intuitively. I would call such thinking purely intuitively 'thought' even though I cannot 'say' verbally exactly what made up any particular one of those thoughts. This seems to my to show thoughts can readily be independent of language although that doesn't by itself imply that thoughts exist prior to language.
2, As far as I an aware, babies that have yet to understand language can nevertheless make decisions and predictions and even at least in a rudimentary way problem-solve. I presume they do this with what we would call 'thought'? This suggests to me that even for humans thoughts exist prior to language.
3, all the apes which we are related to show some ability to make decisions and predictions and even problem-solve. I presume they also do this with what we would call 'thought'? This suggests to me that our direct evolutionary ancestors first evolved to have thought before language. That would mean that also in the evolutionary sense thoughts came prior to language.
But this may come down to exactly what you mean by the word "thought".