What does a language require for philosophy to be possible?

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What does a language require for philosophy to be possible?

Postby somebody already took it » Sat May 26, 2012 6:23 am UTC

What sets of features must be present a language in order for it to be capable of producing something you would call philosophy?
I will conjure up some associations:
Wittgenstein's builder's language
Image
The Chomsky hierarchy
Markov chain text generators

Below I give an example response, which I find unsatisfying. I hope some of you will do better.

Philosophy is Epistemology, the study of truth.
Languages are sets of strings of symbols.
Philosophy is possible if the language can express any first-order logic statement.

I suspect, the definitions of language and philosophy will vary between us, so in your responses please try to define them. I'm looking for responses rooted in objective, quantifiable, measurable properties of language. But, perhaps some of you will say philosophy is an activity of the social system that a language runs on top of, and that a formalized system for language generation can only generate strings that are arbitrary and meaningless, thus not philosophy. Even so, I think it is possible to drill down. Image, like Orwell, a language which is used to limit a society's range of thought. What are the bare minimal requirements of a language for it to enable the phenomenon of philosophy to take place?

Spoiler:
Just for fun, this is my post after going though the Markov chain text generator linked above:

gless, thus not philosophy?
I will vary between us, so in your response, which is used to limit a sociations:
Wittgenstein's builder's language runs of language for it to be capable of philosophy. Even so, I think it is possible the phenomenon of philosophy is an activity of a social system for language generate strings of strings that a formalized system for language can only generate strings that sets of language which is used to limit a society's range of producing something you will down. Image, like Orwell, a languages are the bare minimal requirement.

Philosophy to take place?o in your responses please definitions of language which I find unsatisfying. I hope some associations:
Wittgenstein's builder's language can example response, which is used to limit a society's range of you will conjure up some of thought. What a language in order for it to enable the bare minimal requirements of languages are sets of symbols.
Philosophy is possible the define them. I'm looking formalized system that a languages are arbitrary and meaningless, thus not philosophy will conjure up some of you will do better.

Philosophy to take place? I hope somethink it is an active, quantifiable, meaningless, thus not philosophy to take place?ossible if the language in order for it is possible to drill down. Image, like Orwell, a languages are sets of features must be present a language runs on top of, and that are sets of a language. But perhaps, some of your responses please definitions of languages are arbitrary and meaningless, thus not philosophy is Epistemology, the phenomenon of philosophy. Even so, I think it is possible if them. I'm looking for responses rooted in objective, quantifiable, measurable properties of a language generators

Below I give an example response, which is used to limit a social system for languages are the language. But perhaps, somethink it is Epistemology, the define the phenomenon of philosophy will vary and meaningless, thus not philosophy is Epistemology, the define the language in order for it to be press an activity of truth.
Language

The Chomsky hierarchy
Markov chain text generation can only generators

Philosophy. Even so, I think it to be capable of properties of language can only generation can only generators

Below I give an example response, which is used to limit a society's range of your responses please definitions on top of, and that are the bare sets of thought. What are them. I'm looking for lang

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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby Charlie! » Sat May 26, 2012 6:35 am UTC

If statements classified as "philososphy" can contain anything (if necessary, by referring to it), then in order to express all possible statements classified as philosophy, a language has to contain everything. If we just want "some philosophy" to be possible, then it seems reasonable that we can just have a few words that are sufficient for "some philosophy." Human language is somewhere in the middle.
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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby Zamfir » Sat May 26, 2012 3:32 pm UTC

There's the notorious Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, the idea that the features of a language can shape the perception and thought processes of its speakers. But despite quite some effort, there is not much evidence for it, not even for fairly weak forms.

All languages appear to be fairly similar in their potential to express thoughts. They might lack extensive vocabulary for a particular domain, but all languages easily extend their vocabulary.

In other words, Newspeak looks to be impossible. Culture obviously shapes both thoughts and language, but the features of a language don't appear to have a provable return effect.

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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby Charlie! » Sat May 26, 2012 10:05 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:All languages appear to be fairly similar in their potential to express thoughts. They might lack extensive vocabulary for a particular domain, but all languages easily extend their vocabulary.

Not really a "language" thing, more of a "humans are awesome" thing :D Though the distinction is rather blurry.
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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby Zamfir » Sat May 26, 2012 10:17 pm UTC

I don't think you can separate between "what a language does" and "what people do with languages". Those are the same thing, a language is just a particular aspect of human behaviour.

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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby folkhero » Mon May 28, 2012 10:59 am UTC

Zamfir wrote:There's the notorious Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, the idea that the features of a language can shape the perception and thought processes of its speakers. But despite quite some effort, there is not much evidence for it, not even for fairly weak forms.

All languages appear to be fairly similar in their potential to express thoughts. They might lack extensive vocabulary for a particular domain, but all languages easily extend their vocabulary.

In other words, Newspeak looks to be impossible. Culture obviously shapes both thoughts and language, but the features of a language don't appear to have a provable return effect.

But the point of Newspeak in the book was to make it much more difficult for people to extend their vocabularies by making such extensions illegal/imoral/have a strong social stigma. If you come up with a new word, you can't tell it to anyone for fear that they will turn you in, if you write it down somewhere, you are in danger of the writing being found and then you will be in trouble. Good luck keeping any advanced philosophical thoughts in your head without writing them down or bouncing them off someone. At least for me, I wouldn't be able to separate the stoner "whoa dude," ideas from the thoughts that are coherent and valuable. Even if you can find a confidant, or a place to hide your notebook, or could keep track of everything in your own head, you would still have the lingering guilt from all that indoctrination that what you were doing is immoral. Now, it is possible to create complex ideas with a small handful of words (or indeed just ones and zeros) but at a certain point it would likely become too unwieldy for a human to actually do so. Philosophers often find their expansive vocabularies to be lacking so they must make up and define new words to convey their ideas.

I think the real question of whether Newspeak is possible comes down to whether an authority structure is good enough at indoctrination, investigation and intimidation to actual stamp out the creation of new vocabulary.
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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby Dark567 » Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:32 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:There's the notorious Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, the idea that the features of a language can shape the perception and thought processes of its speakers. But despite quite some effort, there is not much evidence for it, not even for fairly weak forms.
You sure about that? There is very little evidence for its strong forms, but I thought there was pretty significant evidence for weaker forms.

I recall one study that compared the way two gendered languages(German and Spanish?) described certain objects like a bridge. People who spoke in the language that the word for bridge was masculine were much more likely to describe it as strong, tall, and utilitarian. Speakers of the language in which word for bridge is feminine described it as beautiful, slender, and elegant. That seems to be some evidence for the weak form.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic ... l_research

Zamfir wrote:All languages appear to be fairly similar in their potential to express thoughts. They might lack extensive vocabulary for a particular domain, but all languages easily extend their vocabulary.
To use a programming analogy, this is like saying all languages are Turing complete. But the ability to express the possibility of all thoughts, doesn't necessarily describe how easy it is to express those thoughts. I could theoretically construct a language that is capable of expressing all thoughts, but did so very cumbersomely. Its unlikely that all natural languages have the same difficulty to express all thoughts, even if they have the capability to.
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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby Rium » Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:00 pm UTC

Dark567 wrote:I recall one study that compared the way two gendered languages(German and Spanish?) described certain objects like a bridge. People who spoke in the language that the word for bridge was masculine were much more likely to describe it as strong, tall, and utilitarian. Speakers of the language in which word for bridge is feminine described it as beautiful, slender, and elegant. That seems to be some evidence for the weak form.

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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jun 19, 2012 2:07 am UTC

Yeah, the closest I think you can really get to a version of S-W is to say that while language doesn't render it impossible to think of certain things, it does require us to think of certain things. Languages with nouns that change gender to match their referents (e.g. Spanish) require that you specify the gender of the person you're talking about, even if the extent of that specification is to default to male when you don't know. Languages with a dual form require you to think about whether there are two or more than two of whatever you're discussing.

You don't get to choose what connotations a word has, and you don't get to choose not to mentally activate most of those connotations when you hear a word, so in that sense language definitely does affect thought.
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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby iamspen » Tue Jun 19, 2012 1:59 pm UTC

Newspeak wouldn't remove feelings of unhappiness or frustration from its speakers. Rather, it would rob them of the ability to communicate and/or formulate reasons for that frustration. Keep in mind Orwell's concept of Newspeak was rigidly enforced by an all-encompassing political behemoth, so new words to describe new feelings and concepts could not enter the lexicon without governmental approval, and since only simple words without proper descriptive properties were allowed to enter the language, antiestablishment philosophy, or the ability to conceptualize antiestablishmentarianism , would be impossible. So if we define philosophy as conceptualization of a worldview that is able to be communicated, yes, it would be impossible under the strict parameters of Ingsoc. In the real world, however, we have the benefit of being able to create new words for new concepts, and so philosophy and language have the ability to grow together.

IRL example: the word, "meme," coined in 1976. It is now used to describe certain facets of culture, primarily that of the internet, but also in the physical world. I wiki'd memetics, and it turns out philosophers actually do write about this stuff, and scientists do study it, but those studies would likely be immeasurably more difficult had a defined term such as, "meme," not entered the lexicon.

Edit: So to answer the original question, I think a language needs a certain fluidity, an ability to add new words to describe new concepts, in order for philosophy to be possible. Newspeak removes words and concepts, limiting the ability of people to think philosophically by removing their ability to know how to describe their emotions.

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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby Dark567 » Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:32 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Yeah, the closest I think you can really get to a version of S-W is to say that while language doesn't render it impossible to think of certain things, it does require us to think of certain things. Languages with nouns that change gender to match their referents (e.g. Spanish) require that you specify the gender of the person you're talking about, even if the extent of that specification is to default to male when you don't know. Languages with a dual form require you to think about whether there are two or more than two of whatever you're discussing.

You don't get to choose what connotations a word has, and you don't get to choose not to mentally activate most of those connotations when you hear a word, so in that sense language definitely does affect thought.
Well, I believe the stronger versions of S-W have less to do with just words and make claims that certain grammatical structures change the the way we think and perceive. I recall(imperfectly, I might be flubbing this) from my intro to linguistics class that used an example of a Native American language which described direction by accenting a certain syllable in each word(i.e. accenting the first syllable meant above, the second meant below etc.). When trying to describe direction to speakers of this language it was impossible to do so with terms like north and south instead of left and right and because of this would navigate in very different ways than say English speakers.
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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby gmalivuk » Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:49 pm UTC

A lot of the experiments with direction terminology turn out to be flawed or oversimplified. Sure, if you ask someone to make one scene (e.g. with a variety of objects arranged in a particular manner) "like" another, the way they deal with the ambiguity of "likeness" is generally to arrange things so it would be described the same way in their language. If they have words for left and right but not north and south, then rotating the test subject results in a rotated scene.

But that never turns out to mean they are incapable of doing it some other way, or even that they find it difficult, like keeping the same north-south orientation or the same uphill-downhill orientation or whatever other system exists in some languages but not their own. It's just that to elicit those results, experimenters have to be more explicit about what they mean.

And heck, without trying the experiment myself, I don't know whether my first inclination would be to create a parallel, rotated, or reflected scene when told to make it "like" the other.
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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby Dark567 » Tue Jun 19, 2012 7:05 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote: If they have words for left and right but not north and south, then rotating the test subject results in a rotated scene.
Well, the point of this was that they didn't have words for direction at all(instead being a function of stress) and so adding concepts like north and south would be difficult(although not impossible).
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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby guenther » Tue Jun 19, 2012 7:08 pm UTC

Here's a couple of Radiolab episodes related to this topic. The first one, Why Isn't the Sky Blue?, talks about how our perception of color seems to be affected by whether we have distinct words for the colors. An experiment was done showing green and blue squares to a culture that didn't have a different word for blue, and they had a very hard time finding the difference. (They said this was a result of perception, not something like color blindness.)

The second one, Words that Change the World, has an even more startling example of a person who didn't have a language for the first 27 years of his life. He was born deaf and was never taught sign language. He had a breakthrough moment when he realized that everything has a word that represents it. After learning sign language, he had difficultly even describing what life was like before language and just described it as a "dark time" (if I recall correctly, it's been a few years since I heard it).

And the second one goes further to describe research that suggests that language doesn't merely offer a means to communicate our thoughts, but that they actually allow us to think. (Again going from memory, so hopefully that description is accurate.)

Regarding something like Newspeak, it seems someone could craft a language that limited our ability to think about and express certain ideas. But people are constantly innovating, so the language would naturally broaden out over time to include those topics unless some heavy hand came in and somehow prevented that from happening. That's my guess anyways.
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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby Zamfir » Tue Jun 19, 2012 7:37 pm UTC

guenther wrote:But people are constantly innovating, so the language would naturally broaden out over time to include those topics unless some heavy hand came in and somehow prevented that from happening. That's my guess anyways.

Yeah, I think this is the main point. It's surely possible to restrict a language to make it difficult to discuss certain issues.

After all, we do the opposite all the time: learn some field-specific jargon to makes it easier to talk about the field, and even think about it. A set of useful concepts and analogies that have already been tested as helpful. If you can prevent people from learning or developing such a a jargon, it will be harder to discuss something.

But is this really 'in the language'? If you can stop people from studying a field, the their lack of expertise shows among other thing up in their language. If you encourage to have good or bad opinions about things, it will show up in linguistic associations as well. Language is tied up with everything we do, it's trivially true that it will shape and be shape by our behaviour, like all parts of culture.

Perhaps I am reading to much in it, but the OP seems to look for something stronger, more language-specific. A repertoire of words like 'deontological' or 'induction' makes it easier to discuss some philosophical questions, and lacking similar terms makes it harder. But is such a difference ever language alone, and not the language-related part of a wider difference in experience?

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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby Dark567 » Tue Jun 19, 2012 7:51 pm UTC

Zamfir wrote:After all, we do the opposite all the time: learn some field-specific jargon to makes it easier to talk about the field, and even think about it. A set of useful concepts and analogies that have already been tested as helpful. If you can prevent people from learning or developing such a a jargon, it will be harder to discuss something.
I think this is the reason why stronger versions of S-W focus on grammar, its easy to add vocabulary if a languages grammar can support it. Its hard to dramatically alter the grammar. Its why things like gendered languages come up or if grammatical structure has some other effect on thought(apparently very hard to discern). Does languages that comprise words of a combination of characters create a different perception than isolating languages like Chinese?
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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby morriswalters » Tue Jun 19, 2012 9:13 pm UTC

Given the nature of the way we learn language it is difficult to see how a language like that(philosophical) could develop. The original language acquired would seem to lock in the way that you might be influenced. That is that if you learned any other language first, then that language would be the language which controls how you think. Certainly we develop professional vocabulary's but that is different than a language. We seem to lock in the vocal part of speech early on and get the grammar as we go. But it seems that once it's done then it's over. We tend to handle second languages differently, in a cognitive sense, if learned as adults. Would a language like that have any utility to a philosopher?

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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:56 am UTC

I don't actually have time to listen to these now, but have a few questions/comments:
guenther wrote:An experiment was done showing green and blue squares to a culture that didn't have a different word for blue, and they had a very hard time finding the difference. (They said this was a result of perception, not something like color blindness.)
Did they have a hard time noticing the difference, or describing the difference? Because obviously describing the difference would be hard for people who didn't have a name for the difference in their language, but that's not the same as actually being unable to find the difference. Could they not notice a border between the different colors? Could they not say anything about which was lighter (assuming one was and they had words for "lighter" or "darker)? Were they unable to tell if the color was switched while they weren't looking?

As a colorblind person, I know that my perception of colors is different from everyone around me, and so color words are never really important to how I conceptualize things. And even when I can clearly see (and think about) a difference between two colors, I may not be able to describe it well or even particularly care to do so in words I know won't match up with others' experiences anyway.

And the second one goes further to describe research that suggests that language doesn't merely offer a means to communicate our thoughts, but that they actually allow us to think.
Having some language may indeed be necessary in order to think in a way the rest of us language-using humans recognize as human. I don't think that's the same as saying language is necessary for thought, and it's also important to note that even if it is true it doesn't support the S-W claim that people who speak one natural human languages are constrained from having the same thoughts as people who speak other languages.
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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby guenther » Wed Jun 20, 2012 2:19 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:Did they have a hard time noticing the difference, or describing the difference? Because obviously describing the difference would be hard for people who didn't have a name for the difference in their language, but that's not the same as actually being unable to find the difference. Could they not notice a border between the different colors? Could they not say anything about which was lighter (assuming one was and they had words for "lighter" or "darker)? Were they unable to tell if the color was switched while they weren't looking?

Here's the video showing the experiment. Basically there's 12 green squares in a circle, but one of them is actually blue, at least according to how we describe colors. But the Himba people use the same word to describe both colors. They don't have to name the color, they just have to point to the one that stands out as different. It takes them longer and they're more prone to errors as compared to Westerners doing the same experiment. However, a little earlier in the video, they did another experiment where all the squares were what we would describe as green, but one of the greens was slightly different. The Himba use a different word for that oddball green and they can spot it instantly. But Westerners have the same trouble here as the Himba had in the other one. So this seems like a case of perception, not simply people describing similar phenomena with different words.

gmalivuk wrote:As a colorblind person, I know that my perception of colors is different from everyone around me

A different section of that same podcast mentioned that researchers have successfully cured color blindness in monkeys. They injected the genes for the missing red cones into the eye, and over time the monkeys could see red. When asked if this could be used on humans, the researcher said yes, but it awaits evaluations as to what benefit this gives and if it outweighs the inherent risks in a procedure like this. Anyway, I was pretty surprised to hear that we could cure color blindness.

gmalivuk wrote:Having some language may indeed be necessary in order to think in a way the rest of us language-using humans recognize as human. I don't think that's the same as saying language is necessary for thought, and it's also important to note that even if it is true it doesn't support the S-W claim that people who speak one natural human languages are constrained from having the same thoughts as people who speak other languages.

I don't know how accepted the theory is, but the person quoted for the podcast clearly indicated that language is necessary for thought. It's been a while since I listened, but I remember he said that pre-language children don't think, at least not how we normally think about thought. Also, Ildefonso, the man without language (thanks morriswalters!), had trouble describing his life before language. If he merely lacked the words to describe his pre-language life, then this should be fixed with language. But it seems that a lack of language impaired his ability to process and store the events of his life. At least that's what I got from the podcast when I listened last. (Again, it's been a while.)

As for whether any natural human languages impair our thoughts, I am doubtful. It seems reasonable that a language would naturally spread to overcome these constraints since people are so innovative.
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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby jules.LT » Wed Jun 20, 2012 3:28 pm UTC

Wouldn't people have a different word for a colour because they have more occasions/need to see it in their life?

Also, this topic reminds me that Deleuze defined philosophizing as "the creation of concepts". Vocabulary extension indeed.
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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby guenther » Wed Jun 20, 2012 4:04 pm UTC

jules.LT wrote:Wouldn't people have a different word for a colour because they have more occasions/need to see it in their life?

Or conversely, they don't have a word for a color because making certain distinctions aren't all that important. I don't know if we can definitively say why languages have different words for different colors, but I would think these plays a big role. In fact, this is mentioned in the podcast. In ancient times many languages didn't have a full set of words for colors, but more interestingly, they all seem to expand their language of colors in a similar pattern. Black and white always come first, then red. And the last color to be added is always blue. They gave the explanation that colors seem to get added about the time that we can artificially create that color. And blue is the most difficult color to do because of it's rarity in nature.
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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby morriswalters » Wed Jun 20, 2012 4:05 pm UTC

That Ildefonso lived to 27 without language implies that he was able to think in some fashion, but without language he was not able acquire information without seeing it happen. He couldn't create narratives for himself other than for those events he saw. He couldn't name things. And he could share almost nothing with others. Here is a link to a video with Judy Kegl who introduces you to a woman with the same problem as Ildefonso. Kegl was studying what may be the birth of a new language in Nicaragua among the deaf children in the Seventies.

The difference in the ability to discriminate color may be a product of context and early learning. When learning languages in the critical period we acquire the ability to hear sounds specific to the language we are learning. Once that period is past we are unable to distinguish them and will never produce them like a native speaker.

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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby gmalivuk » Wed Jun 20, 2012 4:37 pm UTC

guenther wrote:at least not how we normally think about thought.
Like I said, non-linguistic thought might just not be recognized as thought by humans used to thinking in words. It's obviously very different, and in human brains evolved to deal with language probably quite limited in some ways, but unless you define "thought" so narrowly as to by definition rule out the non-linguistic kind, I don't see how the inability to think like I think equates to the inability to think full stop.
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guenther
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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby guenther » Wed Jun 20, 2012 7:27 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:The difference in the ability to discriminate color may be a product of context and early learning. When learning languages in the critical period we acquire the ability to hear sounds specific to the language we are learning. Once that period is past we are unable to distinguish them and will never produce them like a native speaker.

That could be the case. And I would think this is testable too. The argument put forth was that having a distinct word for two different colors produces feedback in the brain which raises awareness of the distinction. So if the Himba people were trained in this distinction, would their color discrimination have something akin to an accent of their early learning?

gmalivuk wrote:Like I said, non-linguistic thought might just not be recognized as thought by humans used to thinking in words. It's obviously very different, and in human brains evolved to deal with language probably quite limited in some ways, but unless you define "thought" so narrowly as to by definition rule out the non-linguistic kind, I don't see how the inability to think like I think equates to the inability to think full stop.

Well, I think the claim comes from narrowly defining "thought". But the profound thing isn't that we can narrow a definition so much that we can exclude things. Rather, what I found fascinating is how different non-linguistic thought is. Or another way of putting it, how much language plays a roll in our thinking. I had always considered language to be about communicating ideas, but that podcast made me think there's more to it. From what I remember, it talked about pre-language children and how they have different islands of thought that don't interact very much. But language helps them bridge these islands and it allows them to better connect together different ideas.
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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby morriswalters » Wed Jun 20, 2012 8:21 pm UTC

A lot of the things we do involve heuristics since speed is an evolutionary advantage. For instance we don't think about walking, we walk. When you look at verbalization's it appears that we prime the pump so to speak. That is that babies arrange their minds to hear the speech they expect. Babies prior to 1 year old who were exposed to Mandarin speakers as well as there native English could hear the sounds specific to Mandarin as they got older. But this only occurred when a person was involved, video didn't work, here is a link to a Ted presentation. The implication is that language has a strong social component. We hear what our social group hears. We can learn language later, but we handle it different cognitively. Extrapolating from that you might infer that the reason they don't differentiate the color as well as we do is because their brains haven't been primed so to speak. I suppose that you could use the same test that the investigator in the video used.

guenther
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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby guenther » Wed Jun 20, 2012 9:59 pm UTC

Priming the pump sounds reasonable, but does language play a role, or are the linguistic color descriptions merely a byproduct? And is this priming imprinted in early childhood, or can it happen later on? I don't think the experiment with the colored squares set out to answer those questions. It's clear that the Himba describe colors very differently (water is white like milk, but the sky is black); however, the researchers wanted to know if their perception of colors differed from Westerners. The experiment shows that it does, but the question of why is still unexplored as far as I know.
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morriswalters
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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby morriswalters » Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:10 pm UTC

This plasticity for language ends fairly early, after about a year for infants for sounds and overall by adolescence. But be careful because this mechanism doesn't require sound, the same holds true for sign language users. If your interested read a book called Seeing Voices by Oliver Sacks . You can get it pretty inexpensively at Amazon, if you buy it used. It's an excellent read and might give you insights into deaf culture if your interested. The transfer to left hemisphere functions that are mentioned in the color studies also happens with sign.

guenther
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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby guenther » Wed Jun 20, 2012 11:46 pm UTC

morriswalters wrote:This plasticity for language ends fairly early, after about a year for infants for sounds and overall by adolescence. But be careful because this mechanism doesn't require sound, the same holds true for sign language users. If your interested read a book called Seeing Voices by Oliver Sacks . You can get it pretty inexpensively at Amazon, if you buy it used. It's an excellent read and might give you insights into deaf culture if your interested. The transfer to left hemisphere functions that are mentioned in the color studies also happens with sign.

What is the transfer to left hemisphere functions in the color studies? And are you referring to the color studies that I linked involving the Himba people? Perhaps I listened to this in the podcast, but I can't recall it. If the parallels to the plasticity of language in youth are that close to what's going on here, then perhaps that is a good explanation. I just don't recall hearing that.

Anyway, the book sounds interesting, and I've listened to Olver Sacks speak from time to time and enjoy what he does. Thanks!
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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby morriswalters » Thu Jun 21, 2012 12:13 am UTC

Look at the BBC video you linked to and watch the first couple of minutes.

guenther
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Re: What does a language require for philosophy to be possib

Postby guenther » Thu Jun 21, 2012 12:23 am UTC

Youtube is giving me an error now, so I'll have to check it later. But let me mention that my primary source for this information was the podcast. The podcast mentioned that video was taken of the colored square experiment, and when gamlivuk asked about it, I searched for it rather than describing the experiment based on the podcast description. But I only watched the parts of the video that answered gmalivuk's question, I didn't take the time to watch the whole thing. I can go back and do that when the link works for me again. Thanks for pointing this out!


EDIT:
Thanks again for pointing out that I missed something. Now that I've had the chance to watch the beginning part, I think I misunderstood you earlier. I thought you were saying that our color perception might go through an early childhood shift that's similar yet unrelated to the one that happens with language. But the video makes the point that this left hemisphere shift happens along with language, which seems to indicate that color and language are tied together somehow. This is basically the same point that the podcast made, though it didn't mention this research in young children.
Last edited by guenther on Thu Jun 21, 2012 2:27 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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