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Thread: Thought in Chaos & Clear, Orderly Language

  1. #1
    Chukchi Salmon
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    Talking Thought in Chaos & Clear, Orderly Language



    Preface

    This topic is an off-shoot of 'Thinking & Language,' where the question was 'Is thinking possible without the help of language, or impossible because they (thinking & language) are the same thing ?'

    Perhaps these two words (& the ideas they represent) should be defined clearly at some point. One reason for postponing such definitions (in addition to the difficulty of it) is that a definition is by definition abstracting & limiting, and can kill creative thinking which is the main purpose of discussion.

    The two kinds of mental activities involved in intense thinking & speech are very different from each other. Let me describe what is happening at the moment.

    "I have a vague, but lingering 'idea' about what might be happening before a thought chrystalizes. Some bits are floating around, as a result of questioning in the aforementioned 'Thinking & Langage' thread and reading replies. The thing about my lingering 'idea' is that it has not chrystalized yet. It is more like a hint or a guess that I feel might give some definite result after some work, but not quite fully formed."

    Regarding language, & how it participates in my pursuit of the lingering 'idea.'

    "I am going around after random possbilities that might let me post a clear question. Using certain leading words/phrases that are customarily used in expressing or formulating a question post in acceptable format, I am constructing these sentences."

    "I am concerned that the words & grammar of my writing are readable; so I continuously check back on a conscious level whther I am following the rules of grammar & langauge convention."

    "I am also concerned that what is written adequately reflects the key point (question, conflict, tension, motion) that I want to convey. This lingering 'idea' may or may not have a common expression. I simply do not know that until I've constructed several sentences & paragraphs to achieve the desired effect: being reproducing the same (or loosely identical, equvalent) point (question, conflict, tension, motion) in the readers' heads."

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Above is a formal self-observation trying to describe my present acitivy regarding thoughts & clear language. The following is my acutal attempt.
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Main (conflict, tension, motion)

    Can the following two become reduced to one ?
    Or are they fundamentally different, two processes that make up our brain activity of thought & speech ?

    Pre-thought

    Before consolidating an idea, the pre-idea remains vague and undetermined. The mind wanders here and there looking for a place to sit down & settle(words; a subject; an attribute; a predicate). It is like a homeless person, who might or might not have a place to stay for the night. Nevertheless, he is the primary creator of whatever follows. He gives life to the words that are meaningless on their own. He can be likened to the young bachelor looking for his bride; without a clear picture of the maiden, he checks out this girl and that, asking his inner voice whether she is the one. (Funny comparison, but true !)

    Clear-language (Clear-thought ?)

    Sentences are being created to convey the lingering 'idea,' but the sentence for this purpose, & in this form, never existed before. Some might be pre-judged as not creating the same effect in the reader, and therefore get thrown out. Some might have the wonderful result of producing the precise desired effect in the reader and be kept. Some might not draw an exact picture of the lingering 'idea,' but having no immediately thinkable alternative, might still be kept as acceptable sentences, although only as roundabout expressions of the 'lingering idea.'

    Evaluation

    Depending on whether the verbalizing effort was successful or not, the lingering idea may or may not have been well represented. The result may be highly successful, giving more meaning that was originally thought of in the pre-thinking stage. The result may be a relatively poor one, failing to convey much meaning, primarily by not being a good idea to begin with, and secondly by under-representing an otherwise good idea that met an inarticulate writer. Or yet the result may be a totally misrepresenting one, but still having an unexpected, useful effect.

    Question: Pre-thought in Chaos & Clear Language

    If the primary motive that drove me to write all this with the purpose of giving it a decent form of expressing & communicating it AND the resulting writing are two different elements that I can experience, then how can I say that (pre-)thought and language are the same thing ? They sure seem different to me. Whereas for the reader, since they only have the written form to reconstruct my idea, the sentence & the thought would be the same. (Unless the reader has other knowledge of me/my thoughts regarding the topic.)

    So, are thoughts and sentences conveying those thoughts still the same thing ? The lingering idea is like a dim light in the dark; hence I named it chaos. Clear language is self-evident. From whose viewpoint should we define 'Thought & Language' ? Are an idea & an expression of it not two different things ?
    Last edited by lexico; 17-04-05 at 22:32.
    Z: The fish in the water are happy.
    H: How do you know ? You're not fish.
    Z: How do you know I don't ? You're not me.
    H: True I am not you, and I cannot know. Likewise, I know you're not, therefore I know you don't.
    Z: You asked me how I knew implying you knew I knew. In fact I saw some fish, strolling down by the Hao River, all jolly and gay.

    --Zhuangzi

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    Regular Member Void's Avatar
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    Talking * coughs * =)

    Let me point at some spots what i found quite mixty - maxty

    1. " Pre - thought " is someting that invades your mind, you can`t be sure where did it come from. From the outside, from the depth of your unconscious, from the abyss of collective unconscious or just an undistinguished wreckage of some recent thoughts of yours. And besides this uncertainty, your mind fails to clarify the content (message) of that " invader ". It`s just a glimpse of * unknown *. And the unknown always makes our Self to feel worried.

    2. If it`s quite "persistive" and viable pre - thought it won`t wither away, and will keep bothering your mind. You can just leave it to its own, or can try and snatch this quirky thing and classify it with a help of your vocabulary. Your language is a tool, you are using to capture that *unknow * (along with a help of intuition ).

    3. Looking back at the thread of "Language & thinking". Words, phrases, paragraphs - is that really what you need to bring that pre-thought of yours to a clear light? What if you are an artist (painter or sculptor) or a musician (composer or dancer)? Then the result, your " clear thought " might be a new figure or image, new sounds or movements...
    or am i mistaken somewhere?

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    Regular Member Sensuikan San's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Void
    Let me point at some spots what i found quite mixty - maxty

    1. " Pre - thought " is someting that invades your mind, you can`t be sure where did it come from. From the outside, from the depth of your unconscious, from the abyss of collective unconscious or just an undistinguished wreckage of some recent thoughts of yours. And besides this uncertainty, your mind fails to clarify the content (message) of that " invader ". It`s just a glimpse of * unknown *. And the unknown always makes our Self to feel worried.

    2. If it`s quite "persistive" and viable pre - thought it won`t wither away, and will keep bothering your mind. You can just leave it to its own, or can try and snatch this quirky thing and classify it with a help of your vocabulary. Your language is a tool, you are using to capture that *unknow * (along with a help of intuition ).

    3. Looking back at the thread of "Language & thinking". Words, phrases, paragraphs - is that really what you need to bring that pre-thought of yours to a clear light? What if you are an artist (painter or sculptor) or a musician (composer or dancer)? Then the result, your " clear thought " might be a new figure or image, new sounds or movements...
    or am i mistaken somewhere?
    Hello Lexico, hello Void ....

    I do hope you don't mind my intrusion ... but I was just cruisin' the forum, found this thread, found it interesting ... and ... now 'm not sure what I wanted to say ... !

    Ah, yes ! .....Void made a really good point .... !

    IMHO, language is not the "be-all-and-end-all" of communication. If it was - then we would all live in much more sterile societies than we do ... and every language in the world would have to be so complex ... it would take a lifetime to learn just one !

    Language is used to communicate, to express ideas, to express theories, to disseminate, to argue, and to express emotion, to express mood.

    In most of these areas - it serves very well ... but, in the last two .... ?

    I think that this is where the visual artist and the musician step in to assist! Look at 'Whistler', view 'Renoir', 'Monet', 'Manet', 'Hockney' ... listen to Gershwin, Copeland, Butterworth ... Lennon & McCartney, Jefferson Airplane !

    Oh, most certainly - thinking and language are not necessarily synonymous !

    Void - you are not mistaken at all ! - You nailed it !

    I trust my post is not too superficial ....

    Regards,

    W
    If you haven't been a Communist by the time you're 40 - then you don't have a heart.

    If you're still a Communist after the age of forty - you don't have a head ....

    (Denis Healey)

    If you're still a communist after the age of sixty ... you're coming to your senses again ....

    (Sensuikan San)

  4. #4
    Regular Member Void's Avatar
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    That`s what said in psycholinguistics

    1. There is a motive for every verbal expression of oneself. Motive is the initial point. It can be either demand, or informational exchange (contact), or need for clear representatiobn of own ideas.

    2. Yet, motive itself doesn`t trigger the speaking, `cause it has no definite
    content. Therefore, next step is a vision of a statement (primary semantic record) At this stage the scheme of future idea is being built, the theme (the main thread, something already known to the speaker) of thought is being separated from its 'reme' (all the new what will fill it).
    This is a phase of general subjective (personal) meaning of a thought. This is
    when one starts to understand how exactly subjective meaning can be explicated into the system of well-known and widely understandable verbal terms. Thought or idea is not being fullfilled in speech(language), but underruns several steps, being formed through the speech.

    3. Semantic record is sort of convolved statement, it turns into explicit,
    clear and logical language through the inner speech. Simultaneous scheme of semantic record is being transliterated into the well-organized structure of future syntactic statement. It`s when the inner images being decoded into words (syntagmatic schemes), when the 'theme' and 'reme' evolve

    But, yet, there some other things neccessary for conveying the pre-thought into clear language. Lasting and stable attention to the matter; capacity of 'short term memory'; 'guidance system' which helps to pick important issues and cut off insignificant and distracting staff; and 'selecting system' which helps to choose words with proper semantic content among various alternatives...

  5. #5
    DON'T PANIC! Tsuyoiko's Avatar
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    I think it could be argued that expression of a thought is a translation from one's internal 'mind-language' into some other medium, be that a human language (in this case English), or some other form, auditory, visual or whatever. I don't think the fact that I have to 'translate' my thought in order to externalise it necessarily argues against a 'mind-language'. I suppose in part it hangs on how we define 'language'.

    Looking at these definitions of language, none seems to fit the idea of a 'mind-language', as each seems to assume the pre-existence of thoughts.

    This essay The Language of Thought outlines the theory, but look at its definition of language as
    a symbolic system
    . The first dictionary definition is not too far away:
    Communication of thoughts and feelings through a system of arbitrary signals, such as voice sounds, gestures, or written symbols.
    We could pare this down to
    Communication through a system of arbitrary signals, such as voice sounds, gestures, written symbols or mental processes.

  6. #6
    Regular Member Void's Avatar
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    Tsuyoiko, i`ll read about LOTH in a couple of days. But could you,plz,
    explain what do you mean under mind-language and communication
    through mental process

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    DON'T PANIC! Tsuyoiko's Avatar
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    By 'mind-language' I mean 'communication by mental processes' and by that I mean the means by which thoughts are present to the mind. In other words, our thoughts are communicated to us (we become conscious of them) through some mental processes, and this system can be considered a language.

    I know what you are going to say - what about subconscious thoughts? But are they thoughts at all? We need to define 'thought'.

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    Regular Member Void's Avatar
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    heh, wrong guess i was not going to ask anything like this. But it`s good idea - let`s define thought ;)

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    DON'T PANIC! Tsuyoiko's Avatar
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    Lexico - over to you.

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    Regular Member Void's Avatar
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    after looking at these got several questions

    1) noun 'thought' derived from a verb?
    2) if it is then it looks exactly like 2nd-3rd form of that verb which usually used in past (perfect) tense. Could it mean that the word 'thought' means the result of th process of thinking?
    3) if it is so then what should be clarified first: the process or its result?

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    DON'T PANIC! Tsuyoiko's Avatar
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    This seems to imply that 'thought' is conscious. So what is the sub-conscious mental process?

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    Regular Member Void's Avatar
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    so, what then about unfolded (explicit) verbalization and convolute (surrogated) inner speech, where various relations between diferent words and concepts are implicit?

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    Regular Member Void's Avatar
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    heh, Tsuyoiko, i`ve got to confess i am not through with LOTH it happened more difficult to read from puter screeen than i thought (gomen-gomen) Will you kindly wait for a couple of month (not days now ) - i`ll get the printer and finish the reading

    Meanwhile, let me bring some information i found interesting. Returning back to that description from pshycholinguistics. They studied the process of thinking of people with some brain damages or disorders. (sorry for possible mistakes in terminology, don`t have medical dictionary)

    Brainstem damages usualy lead to such condition when there is inactivity and inability to start any action or controlled speech, because necessatily cortical tone cannot be achieved. So, no motive - no intentional speech

    Frontal lobe. Their activity not only provides motivation, demand, plan and
    program for further complex task-oriented action, but also take part in control
    over current action providing feedback signals (indicating success or failure of performance) to the brain. People with damaged frontal lobe can produce only echo reaction or stereotypic patterns of behaivior. But unlike those with brainstem damages they have their organs of articulation (of speech) intact (both - lexical and sintactic apparatus). When these people are asked to retell the story they just heard, they can make a good start but already on a second sentence slip into the "moor of associations". Every word with multiply meanings (Or any other thought or event) draws away their attention from the original line.
    So, they don`t have any phonetic, lexical, morphological and sintactic defects but their semantic system can`t stay closed for the thought to be transmitted, every incidental influence can destroy it.

    Prefrontal lobes of left hemisphere (language zone). People which have some abnormality in this zone cannot create personal schema of speech act (but easily repeat words and phrases).

    Postfrontal part of left hemisphere. People can easily rehearse small part of the story they`ve read, but can`t paraphrase the whole piece (saying smth like "nothing comes to the head", or that they have no plan only feel blank and emptyness in the head when asked to tell the story) Though their lexical and syntactic speech structure remains safe.

    More likely that in this case inner speech is disrupted. Initial pre-thought can`t be coded into the predicative schema which is the base of explicit declarative speech.

    Parietooccipital part of left hemisphere. In thise cases is paradigmatic level to suffer. It is almost inpossible to pick the needed one relation of the word from its various lexical and semantic connections and to supress all the unrelated to the current task.

    there are many other significant and not much problems in spoken language caused by brain lesions. But those seemed enough for that topic.

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    Regular Member Void's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tsuyoiko
    This seems to imply that 'thought' is conscious. So what is the sub-conscious mental process?
    recalling the remains of Jung... sub-conscious... could it be that there are no words (or just coherent phrases, and words altogeteher with images of objects remain) at this level?
    Ah, to claify your words: sub-conscious - is it the same as individual unconscious, or this is the layer between unconscious and conscious

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    DON'T PANIC! Tsuyoiko's Avatar
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    Hey Void! The stuff about how damage to different parts of the brain affects behaviour is fascinating. Have you read The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat by Oliver Sacks? If not, you HAVE to read it! It has lots of case studies of people with different types of brain lesions or imbalances, and how they are affected, sometimes in very specific ways. The guy in the title had prosopagnosia, meaning that he was unable to recognise faces.

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    I think it is possible to think without language and with language. However language helps to think more clearly and analytically. I think most(or all) people think in combination of 'with language' and 'without language'.

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