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Science Forum

  1. 01 Jan '18 17:36 / 1 edit
    Known as the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (or Linguistic Relativity), and made popular by the movie "Arrival", there is evidence that our language determines our thoughts. The movie takes the idea to an extreme, and oversimplifies the process by which a perception shift could affect the linearity of time, but in general the idea makes some logical sense. And it seems that at least some contemporary research agrees, with important implications in understanding the nature of reality [1].

    Obviously we know that physics and perception are intimately linked, but what is the evidence that different languages can cause different thoughts? Can thoughts be altered by manipulating the operational language? Does that suggest a duality (or multiplicity) of individual thoughts?

    Are thoughts a form of internal speech or do they exist independent of and prior to language?

    [1] http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0956797610386621
  2. 01 Jan '18 19:04 / 6 edits
    Originally posted by @wildgrass
    [b]
    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.

    However;

    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".
  3. 02 Jan '18 13:57
    Originally posted by @humy
    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 ...[text shortened]... ame prior to language.

    But this may come down to exactly what you mean by the word "thought".
    Not the evolution of thought, but rather the idea that language fundamentally changes or distorts how thoughts are formed and processed. Not every thought you ever had, but, to the example presented above, maybe our perception of time.

    Thought as it pertains to linguistic relativity. In giving this question some thought, do you use language to think? If you used a different language, would your conclusion change?
  4. 02 Jan '18 16:37
    Originally posted by @wildgrass
    Not the evolution of thought, but rather the idea that language fundamentally changes or distorts how thoughts are formed and processed. Not every thought you ever had, but, to the example presented above, maybe our perception of time.

    Thought as it pertains to linguistic relativity. In giving this question some thought, do you use language to think? If you used a different language, would your conclusion change?
    Before you mentioned it, I never heard of "linguistic relativity" so I looked it up;

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_relativity

    This is a concept I never thought of before. I will need to study this further before forming any firm opinion but my best initial guess is that only the so-called "weak version" of linguistic relativity is correct which says that "linguistic categories and usage only influence thought and decisions" while the so-called "strong version" is false.
  5. 02 Jan '18 18:55
    Originally posted by @humy
    Before you mentioned it, I never heard of "linguistic relativity" so I looked it up;

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_relativity

    This is a concept I never thought of before. I will need to study this further before forming any firm opinion but my best initial guess is that only the so-called "weak version" of linguistic relativity is correct whi ...[text shortened]... sage only influence thought and decisions" while the so-called "strong version" is false.
    Yeah. Determinism is fake news, so obviously linguistic determinism is too. I apologize for using the word "determine" in the OP.

    I wonder, if language can influence thoughts, what is the evidence? If language can alter our perception of time, then does it likewise inform our perception of reality?