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Posted: 9/22/2005 10:33:13 AM EDT
Obviously language is the result of a higher capacity for intelligence and reasoning.

BUT did language offer the solution to an even higher capacity?

We all know when we think or reason things out we use that "little voice" in our head which obviously is in the same language we know.

And at the same time we know if you took a modern human baby and didn't teach it a language it would still be a highly intelligent creature with a great capacity for reasoning. And it may well develop language independently.

But before that what is the nature of the reasoning process in the absence of language?

Is it something akin to the "minds eye" where we can visualize things without actually seeing them with our eyes? Is there a "minds language" where a human can ponder ideas and alternative solutions without needing the actual words?

And if so is it as efficeint as our "little voice" that does speak a language?

Or is that why it was necessary to develop a language so that the little voice could express more coherent and organized ideas?

Is the human capacity to vocalize a language possibly another key that separates us from other intelligent animals and allowed us to achieve a higher level of thinking, much like having an opposable thumb and using tools were a catalyst in developing intelligence?

If another animal had the vocal range patterns could it also develop higher levels of intelligence that may lead to self awareness, thinking and reason and potentially language?

And without language would we still be capable of the same complex patterns of thought and reason with the only change being a diminished capacity to express out thoughts and understand those of others?

Is language like the "written word" which many early civilzations were successful without it's existence or is it an absolute necessity?
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 10:37:49 AM EDT
yes.

spoken and written language was communication version 1.0

Now, we have created digital language which can store much more information, much more effectively. Technology is da bomb! If our civilization ever got wiped out, historians from the future could find out a shit load just from the cached history on one guy's computer...

hopefully, it won't be mine, or else they will think all we ever did was look at pr0n,
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 10:42:04 AM EDT

Originally Posted By gordon_freeman:
yes.

spoken and written language was communication version 1.0

Now, we have created digital language which can store much more information, much more effectively. Technology is da bomb! If our civilization ever got wiped out, historians from the future could find out a shit load just from the cached history on one guy's computer...

hopefully, it won't be mine, or else they will think all we ever did was look at pr0n,



Yes but I'm talking about the ability to reason independently.

I'm talking about communicating with yourself, not others.

Obviously language is critical to communication with others and the written work later greatly aided in that effort to communicate ideas to many others.
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 10:53:53 AM EDT
Language is the tool for higher thought. Without language, there is no higher thought. If you take a linguistics class or do some early childhood ed stuff, there is a lot of discussion of brain formation and language. The fact of the matter is that use of language facilitates dendrite formation in the brain between the ages of 0-2 or 3. If you do not teach a child language (a feral child) they actually will be retarded. Without language our brain cannot organize or extrapolate from existing ideas in the same way that it could with language. We are hardwired for language, in the same way dolphins are hardwired to swim or monkeys are hardwired to climb. Without language, you are not even really a human being, thought-wise.

PS The most important way to make your kids smarter is to read to them. Intellect is 51% genetic and 49% environmental. Kids who are read to at an early age have better-developed neural connections which will allow them to learn more easily as young adults and into maturity.

PPS I'm a teacher; this is the kind of crap we talk about in meetings.
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 10:56:03 AM EDT
I have actually always wonder about the thought process of people who speak a language that seems to go backwards from ours when translated word for word. What is the effect on their thought process? Does it make any difference in their civilizations compared to ours?
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 10:58:32 AM EDT
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Pat. Lutat. Dui eugiamet num alit wisim volorem duip esto odolorperate doluptatuer ipsum autat praessim acilit wis non henissi.
Lent vel ulput exeriure feugait, sit, quis niam venim aliquamet lore dolor sed el ing et ute volorem zzriuscilit, consequi eugiat wisl ea feuguero doloborem quisciduis do od dolor autat, vel dolore tatummy num duisi etumsan vercing ea faccumsan henisim quat lum verci eugue duis augue ming eugiamconse eummod er ipit lamcons ectetue min henis adit adipiscin eum in henis aliquam commolum nonsent vullan vel illa facil eui tiscilit utat. Im ex ent augue vel incinci liquat. Dui bla feuguer sent wisit lam aliquam nulput non er si tetum adio od eros nulla commoloborer adigna con velit vullan eugiatio od etum nullaore tatum iriure consed modolore molor sim zzriure ming eugiam, ver adit nullandre commy nissequi et ad tis am qui euisit am, vel ute tin hendiat nim zzrilis modolore miniamet wis eugiate diam, core velis et wis nonullam alisim vel ing eum autat lam ex enis nit vullum vel exeros acilit nos adionsequam, vel dolum dit alis am quatem dip ex eraesed exeros nim vullam vel dolum dolorti ncilit adip euis nulla faccum ametue delit, consectem il ut irilissim non hendion umsandipit prat, quis augait praestionum quipsusto eratem acing endiamet irillamconse magnim aut nos nulputpat dolore magniss endit, susto ea feu feugiam, sum ex elenisl utpat, conullan elissi.
Lorerat lobore con eui te faci bla facidunt aliquat. Uscin vero dolore dui tem dolor augait ullaorer suscilit iureros ate ming exer summod tionsequat. Adit aci blam, quat, quat pratie tat lutpatio odolore feugue magnibh erit wisl ea cortie consectet, quat, vel dit num exerat la facidui smolortin utet lumsan vent lor sed modipis nibh et, sit iusto del exercilit adio erat ing eril in verci tie dit lorem duismod olorero od eugiam in velit dipiscipit aut la augue facing estio eu feugue euisis nonsed eu facing elis num aut in utpatin ercipit praesendre magnissenim in henis nullam, si.
Reet luptating ex ex eugait lore tat lobore moloreet, quation sequisi.
Ignisim zzrit ver il in ver se consed mod tet, sequisissi.
It aliqui blan er sim ver ad tem nim numsandit, quipsuscilit inisit alit, si.
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Am ilis eliqui eum inisl ero consenim el ulput eum zzrillaore min henisi eugiate do odolestio
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 10:59:58 AM EDT
You pose an interesting question.

Here's my take on it: You do have the ability to reason without language, but you lack the ability to express the thoughts without language. I can look at an 8 foot 1x2 suspended between chairs and reason that it will not hold my weight to stand on it, and I can do so without having to express it in the form of language. I just know it from experience, which is a component of reasoning. However, I cannot express to you that it will not hold your weight without having language skills. Or, in reality what you're referring to is communication skills rather than language skills. Language is just a subset of communication that is specific to a group of people with a common need to communicate with one another.

All animals have some ability to communicate with other members of the species. The difference with humans is that we have a much larger ability to communicate more specifics due to a higher ability to reason. This sort of makes the question similar to the chicken and the egg question. Higher reasoning means greater communication ability, greater communication ability means the ability to learn more, and thus the ability for higher reasoning.

Or something along those lines anyway.....
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 11:00:55 AM EDT

Originally Posted By macman37:
Riliquam velestrud tetue commy nibh et volummy niscidunt velenis modit, velis aut er adit in utpat dolum ilit praesse ming ea faccum dunt am nullan et wisi.
Pat. Lutat. Dui eugiamet num alit wisim volorem duip esto odolorperate doluptatuer ipsum autat praessim acilit wis non henissi.
Lent vel ulput exeriure feugait, sit, quis niam venim aliquamet lore dolor sed el ing et ute volorem zzriuscilit, consequi eugiat wisl ea feuguero doloborem quisciduis do od dolor autat, vel dolore tatummy num duisi etumsan vercing ea faccumsan henisim quat lum verci eugue duis augue ming eugiamconse eummod er ipit lamcons ectetue min henis adit adipiscin eum in henis aliquam commolum nonsent vullan vel illa facil eui tiscilit utat. Im ex ent augue vel incinci liquat. Dui bla feuguer sent wisit lam aliquam nulput non er si tetum adio od eros nulla commoloborer adigna con velit vullan eugiatio od etum nullaore tatum iriure consed modolore molor sim zzriure ming eugiam, ver adit nullandre commy nissequi et ad tis am qui euisit am, vel ute tin hendiat nim zzrilis modolore miniamet wis eugiate diam, core velis et wis nonullam alisim vel ing eum autat lam ex enis nit vullum vel exeros acilit nos adionsequam, vel dolum dit alis am quatem dip ex eraesed exeros nim vullam vel dolum dolorti ncilit adip euis nulla faccum ametue delit, consectem il ut irilissim non hendion umsandipit prat, quis augait praestionum quipsusto eratem acing endiamet irillamconse magnim aut nos nulputpat dolore magniss endit, susto ea feu feugiam, sum ex elenisl utpat, conullan elissi.
Lorerat lobore con eui te faci bla facidunt aliquat. Uscin vero dolore dui tem dolor augait ullaorer suscilit iureros ate ming exer summod tionsequat. Adit aci blam, quat, quat pratie tat lutpatio odolore feugue magnibh erit wisl ea cortie consectet, quat, vel dit num exerat la facidui smolortin utet lumsan vent lor sed modipis nibh et, sit iusto del exercilit adio erat ing eril in verci tie dit lorem duismod olorero od eugiam in velit dipiscipit aut la augue facing estio eu feugue euisis nonsed eu facing elis num aut in utpatin ercipit praesendre magnissenim in henis nullam, si.
Reet luptating ex ex eugait lore tat lobore moloreet, quation sequisi.
Ignisim zzrit ver il in ver se consed mod tet, sequisissi.
It aliqui blan er sim ver ad tem nim numsandit, quipsuscilit inisit alit, si.
Lute magna commy nosto consequat vel ea consenibh eraesequam aciduipisim dit nos nonsequis dolenim ip elit ulputat. Olore magnim dolobore tionsed dolobore vulluptat wiscili quismol oreraesed minciduipisi et lore digna consecte tet veriure magna feugue magnit il dolor sim dolor sent dolor sit velit wisi.
Am ilis eliqui eum inisl ero consenim el ulput eum zzrillaore min henisi eugiate do odolestio





Yep, Thats backwards alright!
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 11:01:26 AM EDT
I would say yes. Human thought before language was based off of urges and the animal instinct. Higher intellect developed over time as language developed. As far as basic needs go, the urge for food went from just putting stuff in your mouth to looking for things that taste good.

For fun, try meditating. Wipe your mind clean of thought involving words from your inner voice. Try imagining what it would be like to function like that, again without using words to discribe it.

Some of you have actually experienced this during the fight or flight response to a critical event. It is during that moment when animal instinct to survive takes over. React or die. I bet very few if any words from that inner voice were spoken.

There are other times that this occurs. Obviously one comes to mind... All your thinking is mmm... feels good.

Doc
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 11:08:13 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Beleg:
Without language, there is no higher thought.



Are you suggesting that a modern human baby if isolated and not taught anything would be incapable of higher thought?

And if higher thought REQUIRES language, how did we get enough higher thought to develop language?
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 11:08:25 AM EDT
I think language is simply a means for communicating thoughts big and small.

On the internet, I've found, it's mostly small thoughts.
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 11:10:31 AM EDT

Originally Posted By vsound:
You pose an interesting question.

Here's my take on it: You do have the ability to reason without language, but you lack the ability to express the thoughts without language. I can look at an 8 foot 1x2 suspended between chairs and reason that it will not hold my weight to stand on it, and I can do so without having to express it in the form of language. I just know it from experience, which is a component of reasoning. However, I cannot express to you that it will not hold your weight without having language skills. Or, in reality what you're referring to is communication skills rather than language skills. Language is just a subset of communication that is specific to a group of people with a common need to communicate with one another.

All animals have some ability to communicate with other members of the species. The difference with humans is that we have a much larger ability to communicate more specifics due to a higher ability to reason. This sort of makes the question similar to the chicken and the egg question. Higher reasoning means greater communication ability, greater communication ability means the ability to learn more, and thus the ability for higher reasoning.

Or something along those lines anyway.....



Yes, but you are discussing two separate ideas: Reasoning and communication.

I am NOT addressing the idea of communication at all. It think it is an absolute given that effective communication requires language, which is why we developed it.

I'm asking is language necessary for the highest levels of reasoning and thought.
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 11:12:40 AM EDT

Originally Posted By USNDOC:
I would say yes. Human thought before language was based off of urges and the animal instinct. Higher intellect developed over time as language developed. As far as basic needs go, the urge for food went from just putting stuff in your mouth to looking for things that taste good.

For fun, try meditating. Wipe your mind clean of thought involving words from your inner voice. Try imagining what it would be like to function like that, again without using words to discribe it.

Some of you have actually experienced this during the fight or flight response to a critical event. It is during that moment when animal instinct to survive takes over. React or die. I bet very few if any words from that inner voice were spoken.

There are other times that this occurs. Obviously one comes to mind... All your thinking is mmm... feels good.

Doc



We actually strive for that mindset in the martial arts (Mushin). Where all thoughts are silenced and the mind is still to fully participate in the event of combat and respond without the burden of assumption.
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 11:13:45 AM EDT

Originally Posted By macman37:
I think language is simply a means for communicating thoughts big and small.

On the internet, I've found, it's mostly small thoughts.



I'm talking about language, as it applies to your OWN thought process.

Again, communication to others is not what is being addressed.
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 11:17:17 AM EDT
Reasoning and thought are considered intrapersonal communication.
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 11:21:29 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Beleg:
Language is the tool for higher thought. Without language, there is no higher thought. If you take a linguistics class or do some early childhood ed stuff, there is a lot of discussion of brain formation and language. The fact of the matter is that use of language facilitates dendrite formation in the brain between the ages of 0-2 or 3. If you do not teach a child language (a feral child) they actually will be retarded. Without language our brain cannot organize or extrapolate from existing ideas in the same way that it could with language. We are hardwired for language, in the same way dolphins are hardwired to swim or monkeys are hardwired to climb. Without language, you are not even really a human being, thought-wise.

PS The most important way to make your kids smarter is to read to them. Intellect is 51% genetic and 49% environmental. Kids who are read to at an early age have better-developed neural connections which will allow them to learn more easily as young adults and into maturity.

PPS I'm a teacher; this is the kind of crap we talk about in meetings.



with respect, I disagree.

The human sensory experience in the absence of language should allow for significant development of the brain.

I had an experience several years ago with a patient that convinced me beyond a shadow of a doubt that early language is not a prerequisite for higher function, learning, and ability. It is only necessary for ease of communication.

I had the extreme priviledge of meeting, and performing surgery on a gentleman who was born blind, deaf, and mute. Talk about being in a shell. He was well into his teens before he was successfully taught any type of communication. He "spoke" to me by writing on a pad, I "spoke" back to him by tracing letters on his palm. It was an experience I will never forget. He was as or possibly more articulate and intelligent as any patient I have ever dealt with, and I was humbled by the experience. Never make an assumption that language is a prereq for intellegence, capacity to learn, or ability to reason.
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 11:22:58 AM EDT
Language and abstraction go hand in hand. An internal language is noting but cognitive symbols used in thought. How did we attain it? In fits and starts, progressing from the most rudimentary to the current ability to express such abstract concepts as the necessity for language in higher cognitive functions.
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 11:26:23 AM EDT

Originally Posted By tommytrauma:
Language and abstraction go hand in hand. An internal language is noting but cognitive symbols used in thought. How did we attain it? In fits and starts, progressing from the most rudimentary to the current ability to express such abstract concepts as the necessity for language in higher cognitive functions.



You understand the idea.

So do you really think a modern human isolated and deprived of language instruction would not achieve the higher reasoning functions?

Or would he be forced to develop language as part of his development even if there was nobody to speak to?
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 11:28:06 AM EDT
I think Music and other Arts have a language of a higher order also. They may not build a shelter or provide the physical necessities of life like Science or Mathematics but they serve other areas vital to our psyche.
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 11:34:02 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/22/2005 11:35:24 AM EDT by five2one]

Originally Posted By SteyrAUG:
Obviously language is the result of a higher capacity for intelligence and reasoning.

BUT did language offer the solution to an even higher capacity?

We all know when we think or reason things out we use that "little voice" in our head which obviously is in the same language we know.

And at the same time we know if you took a modern human baby and didn't teach it a language it would still be a highly intelligent creature with a great capacity for reasoning. And it may well develop language independently.

But before that what is the nature of the reasoning process in the absence of language?

Is it something akin to the "minds eye" where we can visualize things without actually seeing them with our eyes? Is there a "minds language" where a human can ponder ideas and alternative solutions without needing the actual words?

And if so is it as efficeint as our "little voice" that does speak a language?

Or is that why it was necessary to develop a language so that the little voice could express more coherent and organized ideas?

Is the human capacity to vocalize a language possibly another key that separates us from other intelligent animals and allowed us to achieve a higher level of thinking, much like having an opposable thumb and using tools were a catalyst in developing intelligence?

If another animal had the vocal range patterns could it also develop higher levels of intelligence that may lead to self awareness, thinking and reason and potentially language?

And without language would we still be capable of the same complex patterns of thought and reason with the only change being a diminished capacity to express out thoughts and understand those of others?

Is language like the "written word" which many early civilzations were successful without it's existence or is it an absolute necessity?



You ask good questions SteyrAug. I'm in experimental psychology and I can tell you that your questions have been the focus of serious research. Unfortunately, we can only get glimpses and inferences from various sources of info.

One set of research tells us that nonhuman animals mostly do not have the capacity for language that humans do. All the work with great apes and signing or using symbols showed that they can achieve modest vocabularies, but almost no grammar. And its grammar (rules that allow us to make novel sentences) that really makes language what it is.

Given that we know nonhuman animals don't have language, we know that many types of higher cognition are found in nonhuman animal species. For example, the ability to categorize or form concepts is considered one of the hallmarks of higher thinking and animals can do this. They once showd pigeons (not the brightests creatures in the world) 40 pic sets of impressionist painting and cubist paintings over and over until they pecked the correct button and received a food reinforcer at high rates. That's impressive, but then they showed the pigeons sets of new paintings (ones the pigeons never saw before) and they continied to categorize them correctly.

We also know from some cases of horrific child abuse that when children are isolated from any type of language, their cognitive skills are stunnted greated. Themost recent and famous case being Genie ( a 13 year old girl who was kept in a room for the first 13 years of her life). Frontline did an amazing segment on her, but I think there are books too.

The short answer I would give students in my class is that language does facilitate higher cognition, but is not a requirement for some types of higher cognition.

There is also a controversial idea called the Whorfian hypothesis (trekkies love this one). Its an idea that if you don't have a word for something then you can't think about it. I'm less familiar with this research but I think that claim is limited.
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 11:41:51 AM EDT

Originally Posted By SteyrAUG:

Originally Posted By macman37:
I think language is simply a means for communicating thoughts big and small.

On the internet, I've found, it's mostly small thoughts.



I'm talking about language, as it applies to your OWN thought process.

Again, communication to others is not what is being addressed.



OK... It didn't seem like that in your first post, I thought you were asking bigger questions, more like "what is the purpose of speech". My second response was based on that. You don't *need* speech to be smart- you need smarts. Speech is a way of communicating smarts.

My own thought process? OK, I often think in abstract terms way too fast for me to accurately/quickly communicate what I'm thinking.

Unfortunately for my speech, when pressed (e.g. in arguments or situations where I have to quickly relay a complex thought, which are generally conjured as entire sentences) I sometimes trip over my tongue or insert words from "later" in my discussion too early. Which does wonders for the cohesiveness of my discussions. For me, my inner monologue is way faster and more complete than my speech... And I'm fairly well read and have a decent vocabulary.
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 12:03:05 PM EDT
this is a fascinating issue, and one that i've been toying with for years now. it all started when a question came to mind:

"how does a congenitally deaf person think?"

the essential question is, does a deaf person think in his communicative language? does he visualize hand movements? or does he have his inner dialogue in the form of contrasting imagery?

one of my brothers-in-law is incorporating human genetics into the design of neural-net processors. his goal is not simply to get computers to think for themselves, but to get them to think and learn like humans. his website is www.neuroblast.net

my current take is that, at developmental levels, we reason via emotion. at infancy, all decisions are based on a binary pleasure-pain model. we avoid the stove because it causes pain. we gravitate to the nipple because it brings pleasure. and we wind up loving the nipple and hating the stove. as we develop, this binary system becomes a spectrum. eventually, we begin to seperate the physical from the mental, and we develop a 2nd spectrum. and we begin to evaluate the differences between those two. an athlete goes through incredible physical pain to achieve pleasure through winning. a girl undergoes the pain of a torn hymen in exchange for the pleasure of feeling cared about.

for this reason, i believe that true AI cannot happen without some sort of protocol that yields "emotion".
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 12:08:23 PM EDT
Uuuuuuh....
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 12:13:50 PM EDT

Originally Posted By SteyrAUG:

Originally Posted By vsound:
You pose an interesting question.

Here's my take on it: .......

Or something along those lines anyway.....



Yes, but you are discussing two separate ideas: Reasoning and communication.

I am NOT addressing the idea of communication at all. It think it is an absolute given that effective communication requires language, which is why we developed it.

I'm asking is language necessary for the highest levels of reasoning and thought.



True, I was differentiating between reasoning and communication, thought the two are most definitely linked. But, to address it in a bit more depth going from your response, the ability to have higher reasoning is there even without communication skills. However, the ability to reach the highest level of reasoning requires communication simply because a substantial portion of our ability to reason comes from learning and experience. Without communication skills, you would be substantially hindered from achieving the highest levels of thought because you would be lacking in learned information from your fellow humans. In the example of a child that is raised without communication skills, the highest levels of reasoning are still possible, but that child will be at a severe disadvantage in trying to achieve the higher levels of reasoning. In my example above (the 1x2), a child lacking communication skills could still reason that the 1x2 would not be strong enough, if he/she has had an experience of a 1x2 breaking. My father taught me through communication that the 1x2 is not strong enough, therefore I would have an advantage over the "stunted" child that would have to learn it on his/her own.

As another example to ponder, look at Stephen Hawking. Although admittedly he has a hindered ability to communicate, he still has the capability of communicating his thoughts and of learning from material communicated to him. However, he has gone well beyond the level of reasoning as would be expected from the level of communication that he has. His theories of the universe would not be at nearly the level that they are if he were being hindered by his language/communication skills. He has to go to the next level which is to at least create new phrases, if not new words, to be able to communicate his thoughts to others. This to me is a sign that higher reasoning is available with or without communication skills, but is best utilized by having the ability to learn from others and then expanding on the learned information.

My head hurts now......
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 12:15:52 PM EDT
The issue of language in relation to other cognitive capacities is a very interesting one. There are some "natural experiments" to take note of - examples of humans who for whatever reason did not learn a language at the age most of us do. There was the case of a South American woman raised in a remote village - she was deaf and mute and there was no one around to teach her sign language. She was eventually discovered in her late teens but by then she could not learn what experts tried to teach her. She did not even know her own name nor did she understand the concept of a name specific only to her. She never really learned sign language and the experts did not feel that she had any abstract reasoning capacities.

In another example many deaf children from South America were sent to a boarding school by the government to keep this sort of thing from happening. They were being taught American Sign Language (ASL) but they were not too keen on it. After a few months of the school being open one of the teachers noticed that the young children (ages 5 to 10) were communicating with each other in some fashion she could not understand. She thought they were just gesturing wildly or directly referring to visible objects in the room. When sign language and speech experts came to visit the school soon thereafter it was determined that the children had in the course of a year developed their very own language. It had nothing in common with ASL - they had a unique vocabulary of several thousand words and a unique grammar. All the kids did was take the IDEA of a language and developed their own functional one.

Mathematics has always been a very international venture. But many seasoned mathematicians will tell you that different nationalities tend towards different branches of mathematics and different kinds of proofs. This is supposedly not due to any sort of educational bias in the school systems (since it has continued at very long timescales) but is related to the logical structure of the language. Just ask about why Hungarian mathematicians are so different than everyone else - and then try to learn some Hungarian.

Nincs magyarul beszel?
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 12:19:13 PM EDT
It depends on what you mean by higher reasoning functions.

A while back they reported on a dog that could go fetch objects from another room, even when the objects were new to the dog and had never been taught. The dog was able to reason that, because it knew all the other objects in the room, and this word was new, then it must be the one object it didn't know. Is that higher reasoning?

You don't need words to do math. You don't need words to paint, scuplt, or write music. In fact, words might be a hindrance because there aren't any words to describe what you are doing. You need words to write a great novel, but you don't necessarily need words to think up a story. In fact, images might do better lots of times.

As far as animals not having grammar, that is true in the sense of our vocabulary. If you look at their interactions with each other, there is certainly a structure to how they relate to each other with their physical appearance. Is that "grammar"?

I once heard a teacher assert that it was impossible to form thoughts without words. Not true, in my viewpoint. There are all kinds of ways to visualize things into complete thoughts that wouldn't involve words. If I was designing the next Corvette I would imagine that nearly all my thinking would be visual, not verbal.
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 12:23:59 PM EDT

Originally Posted By SteyrAUG:

Originally Posted By tommytrauma:
Language and abstraction go hand in hand. An internal language is noting but cognitive symbols used in thought. How did we attain it? In fits and starts, progressing from the most rudimentary to the current ability to express such abstract concepts as the necessity for language in higher cognitive functions.



You understand the idea.

So do you really think a modern human isolated and deprived of language instruction would not achieve the higher reasoning functions?

Or would he be forced to develop language as part of his development even if there was nobody to speak to?



I would have said that a person who hadn't "learned" the concept of language by the age 6 or so would never do so, and thus would never really achieve abstract thought. I'd thought there were case studies supporting this, kids who were the product of enviromental neglect and such. However, fish223's example makes me wonder if I'm misremembering stuff from classes I took two decades ago.

I still think that, without language, abstract thought is impossible. An analogy would be math without numbers.
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 12:30:46 PM EDT

Originally Posted By wolfman97:
As far as animals not having grammar, that is true in the sense of our vocabulary. If you look at their interactions with each other, there is certainly a structure to how they relate to each other with their physical appearance. Is that "grammar"?



Structure in interactions is not really grammar. Grammar are rules where 2 or more symbols (vocal, written or gestures) can be place in an order that "make sense" to others and permit one to generate novel sequences that "make sense" to others. "Making sense" is usually defined functionally.

In language studies we say animals communicate with symbols -- they use sysmbols to change other animals behavior, but do not use symbols in ordered ways to get different responses. Some animals for example have different danger calls for different predators that cause the rest of the group to seek appropraite types of cover.


Link Posted: 9/22/2005 12:35:01 PM EDT
It does not have to be a spoken language either. My ex g/f was a 4.0 student and she uses only American Sign
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 12:35:15 PM EDT
Yes, language is necessary for higher reasoning. It is the symbolic representation and labeling of abstract concepts.
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 12:44:35 PM EDT

Originally Posted By five2one:

Originally Posted By wolfman97:
As far as animals not having grammar, that is true in the sense of our vocabulary. If you look at their interactions with each other, there is certainly a structure to how they relate to each other with their physical appearance. Is that "grammar"?



Structure in interactions is not really grammar. Grammar are rules where 2 or more symbols (vocal, written or gestures) can be place in an order that "make sense" to others and permit one to generate novel sequences that "make sense" to others. "Making sense" is usually defined functionally.

In language studies we say animals communicate with symbols -- they use sysmbols to change other animals behavior, but do not use symbols in ordered ways to get different responses. Some animals for example have different danger calls for different predators that cause the rest of the group to seek appropraite types of cover.





The first example I can think of to contradict that is when two wolves come together and go through a series of ordered behaviors to communicate dominance/submission. When one animal displays multiple submissive signals they are, in fact, trying to get different behavior from another animal.
Link Posted: 9/22/2005 12:49:24 PM EDT

Originally Posted By tommytrauma:

Originally Posted By SteyrAUG:

Originally Posted By tommytrauma:
Language and abstraction go hand in hand. An internal language is noting but cognitive symbols used in thought. How did we attain it? In fits and starts, progressing from the most rudimentary to the current ability to express such abstract concepts as the necessity for language in higher cognitive functions.



You understand the idea.

So do you really think a modern human isolated and deprived of language instruction would not achieve the higher reasoning functions?

Or would he be forced to develop language as part of his development even if there was nobody to speak to?



I would have said that a person who hadn't "learned" the concept of language by the age 6 or so would never do so, and thus would never really achieve abstract thought. I'd thought there were case studies supporting this, kids who were the product of enviromental neglect and such. However, fish223's example makes me wonder if I'm misremembering stuff from classes I took two decades ago.

I still think that, without language, abstract thought is impossible. An analogy would be math without numbers.



Neglect is quite different than just not learning a language.

but you can do math without using words, can't you? (I can, and have for a long time.) That is abstract thought without language, isn't it? How about designing the shape of a car, or a building? How about composing music or creating a painting?

If you can't do abstract thought without a language I would say you haven't tried.

Link Posted: 9/22/2005 2:08:00 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 9/22/2005 2:09:13 PM EDT by tommytrauma]

Originally Posted By wolfman97:

Originally Posted By tommytrauma:

Originally Posted By SteyrAUG:

Originally Posted By tommytrauma:
Language and abstraction go hand in hand. An internal language is noting but cognitive symbols used in thought. How did we attain it? In fits and starts, progressing from the most rudimentary to the current ability to express such abstract concepts as the necessity for language in higher cognitive functions.



You understand the idea.

So do you really think a modern human isolated and deprived of language instruction would not achieve the higher reasoning functions?

Or would he be forced to develop language as part of his development even if there was nobody to speak to?



I would have said that a person who hadn't "learned" the concept of language by the age 6 or so would never do so, and thus would never really achieve abstract thought. I'd thought there were case studies supporting this, kids who were the product of enviromental neglect and such. However, fish223's example makes me wonder if I'm misremembering stuff from classes I took two decades ago.

I still think that, without language, abstract thought is impossible. An analogy would be math without numbers.



Neglect is quite different than just not learning a language.

but you can do math without using words, can't you? (I can, and have for a long time.) That is abstract thought without language, isn't it? How about designing the shape of a car, or a building? How about composing music or creating a painting?

If you can't do abstract thought without a language I would say you haven't tried.




Can you do math without numbers?
Speech and language are different things. In mathmatics, numbers are a symbolic representation of a concept. Thus, they are language. Music composition involves the expression of concepts, symbolically represented in the mind of the creator, B flat for instance. An artist visualizes his work before it is created, and uses symbolic representation in his own mind to do so.

Don't confuse speech, communication and language. They are three seperate things.

Ther's also a difference between not learning a language, and not learning the concept of language.
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