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flo's avatar

At what age does a child start to actually have thoughts?

Asked by flo (12974points) June 8th, 2016

As asked.

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144 Answers

filmfann's avatar

At birth. They may not be complicated, well thought out, or deep, but I have never seen a baby that wasn’t thinking.

Jak's avatar

When they learn speech. thought prov\cess is incomplete without articulation. therefore thoughts are rudimentary at first and progressing in complexity with more learned words.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Agreed with @Jak. Words are necessary for thinking. Anything less is simply observation, which is a far cry from thinking.

I’ll tell you a story.

Driving my infant son along the same road for three years, I noticed him getting excited at a certain location. I’d say “What? Do you see something?”. All he could do was chatter baby talk louder.

Later, that chatter turned into saying “Dtha! Dtha!”. I’d say “That?” What is “That?”.

He could only think about his observation to the degree that he had words to think about it upon. “Dtha!” turned into “That”... Which eventually turned into “That… Big… Green… Dinosaur”.

Now as an adult, he can think about That big green dinosaur even deeper because his words to consider it have expanded to rubber… helium filled… furniture store advertisement… thirty feet tall… blowing in the wind… on a Saturday afternoon… making the kids scream in the car to get their parents attention towards the “Big Weekend Sale” sign…

Words create reality. Without them, everything is just a “Dtha!”.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I don’t think words or any means of communication are necessary for thought to be occurring. Consider a 45-year old person who is deaf and incapable of speech or signing. Could we possibly say that that person cannot think, even if they cannot communicate their thoughts to others?

I’m not sure whether we know how fully-formed the thoughts of a child or infant are.

I agree with @filmfann on this one.

YARNLADY's avatar

I believe thought begins torm well before birth.

Magical_Muggle's avatar

I think we always have thoughts, it’s just that we don’t really remember those thoughts.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Patton's avatar

The short answer is that we don’t know for sure. A lot depends on how you define “thought” or “thinking.” And the whole question gets complicated by the fact that the consciousness of infants is very different from the consciousness of even a toddler, let alone an adult. I’m going to answer as a psychologist.

Psychologists normally define the kind of thinking you are asking about in terms of conscious internal symbolization. In this definition, “conscious” means it is part of our focal awareness. This kind of thought is something we know we are having and we are focusing on it. “Internal” just means that a thought is not an external symbol. A single letter written on a page is a symbol, and we might be aware of it. But it is not a thought. And “symbol” means that the actual thing isn’t directly in front of us. When something is in front of us, we are perceiving it. When we are thinking about something, we are imagining it or remembering it or using some other kind of conceptual construction, which is called a “symbol.”

But even though we don’t know, we can rule some things out. The parts of the brain needed for conscious internal symbolization aren’t even in working order before sometime around the 30th week of fetal development. I’m not saying they are active then because they definitely are not. But thoughts can’t exist before we even have the parts of the brain needed for them. At birth, most of a newborn’s input is scattered. For example, babies can technically see (light enters their eyes and is processed by the brain), but they don’t form images (the visual cortex and extrastriate areas haven’t yet learned to present light in a coherent or useful way). As far as we know, concepts don’t start to form until the brain can start categorizing these inputs in order to make sense of them. So there probably aren’t a lot of thoughts right at birth either.

It’s very popular to think about thinking in terms of language, and some of the answers so far have already gone in that direction. But while language is one very sophisticated system for symbolizing our thoughts, it is not the only one. A lot of animals have thoughts as I defined them above, but very few animals have language or even proto-language. To go back to what I said earlier, though, a lot depends on how you define “thought” or “thinking.” If we stick to the normal psychological definition, language is not necessary for thought. But a lot of psychologists actually have trouble with that, which makes them wonder if we shouldn’t start using a different definition. So again, we don’t know for sure.

morphail's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies “He could only think about his observation to the degree that he had words to think about it upon.”
So you could read his mind?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@morphail… That’s a loaded question. It assumes my child’s mind was full of something to read. No reading can be done without a language to read. Language comes in many forms.

I cannot read a mind that isn’t filled with thought. I cannot read a mind which cannot communicate the thought language. But what I can do is sense that my child is observing something. I cannot state anything beyond that. I cannot state that my child is thinking about something.

To some degree, parents read the minds of their children from their actions. A moan might mean pain, or joy. But it doesn’t mean the child is thinking about pain or joy. It could just mean that they are simply experiencing it, without thinking about it.

You could somewhat read the mind of a wounded person incapable of speaking their pain. But it doesn’t mean they are thinking about pain, or thinking about getting help. It could mean that they are simply experiencing and reacting to a traumatic event without thinking about it. I think they call that shock.

@dappled_leaves
A deaf mute who cannot sign can still learn language through the senses that they have available. Or they can be taught to do so over time… just like an infant can be taught language. But take away all the senses, and language, and someone please tell me what that person could possibly be thinking about.

Does anyone remember being in the womb? Or being born? If so, then tell me what you were thinking about.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

A completely paralyzed person can think just fine if they had a prior language and experiences to think their thoughts upon. They communicate within themselves, even if they cannot communicate to others. We’ve all talked to ourselves, so we know that’s quite reasonable.

But if that person did not have prior language, or experiences, what could they possibly be thinking about?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@morphail “So you could read his mind?”

Consider this carefully.

The sentences we write to one another is the mechanism which allows us to read each others minds. The words we write represent our thoughts. They don’t represent anything else but our thoughts. Our thoughts could not be created, or shared otherwise, without a language to create and share them upon. Any form of language will do, as long as we both agree on the protocols.

At first, mommy mimics baby to encourage safe bond. Then baby mimics mommy to learn language. Upon that day, they can share thoughts together.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies “But take away all the senses, and language, and someone please tell me what that person could possibly be thinking about.”

This is the whole point of isolation tanks – an environment where a person experiences no sensory input. One major purpose of these tanks is for the participant to think.

Strictly speaking, thinking requires neither sensory input nor output. It requires only what is in one’s own mind.

” They communicate within themselves, even if they cannot communicate to others.”

Yes – this is how I would differentiate thinking from communication. What you have largely been talking about here is communication. Thought occurs only within one mind. It does not require language, because there is no need for a common currency of understanding between oneself and an “other”. If a human grew up in total isolation from other people, he would still think. He just wouldn’t be able to explain his thoughts to anyone else.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

We have different views on isolation tanks. Big new fad in my home town. I’ve been many times.

I gather, and have personally experienced the tanks as a different form of meditation, which from my understanding, is a way of moving beyond thought… Not to increase thought.

Meditation for me is the pursuit of inner peace. That happens for me by clearing thought, not increasing concentration. Perhaps meditation is different for you. But I pursue that realm of timelessness, spaceless-ness. Similar to “The Zone” of an athlete when they describe not thinking and letting it all just happen.

Would you agree that a being must be consciously aware to think? If so, then you might understand why the cognitive studies department of Washington University uses over seventy different language tests to determine a patients conscious awareness.

Think of it like this… A bumble bee has a very limited language with its figure eight waggle dance. It can describe (think about) distance to pollen, routes, quantity, and quality of pollen. But it cannot think about a coffee cup sitting on a table. It doesn’t have the language available to think about such a thing. It observes the coffee cup as an obstacle and will communicate directions to the pollen around that obstacle. But it isn’t thinking about the coffee cup. It’s thinking about the pollen and how to get to it.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Language and words are often misunderstood. It doesn’t have to be so obvious.

Many people describe thinking in pictures, rather than words. But it’s the same thing. A picture is a symbolic representation, just like a word is a symbolic representation. They are the same thing. Words are pictures of thought. Pictures are a different type of word. Your local Yield sign or Logo designer can confirm that. We all generally agree what the primary color codes of red, blue and green mean to most of us. Key term… mean… they represent meaning… read thought. Meaninglessness is not thought. It is chaos. Quite the opposite.

cazzie's avatar

It is well before words come. I work with children from just under a year old and they are absolutely thinking before they speak. It isn’t complicated and there are tricks you can play on them because some concepts aren’t solid in their minds yet, but they are thinking.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

Probably some time before birth.

longgone's avatar

I don’t believe we ever really think in words, even as adults. Thoughts are almost instantaneous, most of our conclusions would be meaningless if we spent as much time on them as we do on formulating setences. I think it’s much more likely that we’re just translating the process inside our mind into something more palatable. We’re used to communicating via language, so we decide that that is what must be happening.

jca's avatar

@longgone: Many of my thoughts are in word form “I have to remember to bring extra cash.” “I hope I have time to stop for coffee.” “I’m glad I filled the tank yesterday.” “Should I rehire the cleaning lady?”

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

@jca I notice most of my thoughts come in words after the actual thoughts manifest

longgone's avatar

^ I agree, though I often don’t notice this right away.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I’m not quite sure why we even need this inner dialog. It’s almost like we reuse our language centers to process thoughts we have. Perhaps like a microprocessor separates opcodes and data

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

My cat would jump on the bed and bring me a rubber band to start a game of fetch in the morning. That shows some thought and planning.

It seems thoughts with words may be at a different level, but she definitely was thinking.

morphail's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I don’t see any evidence for the idea that your child couldn’t think about something before he leaned enough language to communicate it to you. Or the idea that we didn’t understand epilepsy because we lacked the words, as you wrote elsewhere. It sounds like an extreme version of the Sapir-Word hypothesis.

Bill1939's avatar

@Patton I believe that your post is right on. What thought is depends upon how it is defined. When I was in high school, my father tried to convince me that thought required verbal language. I argued that thinking could exist as a visual process and emotions could be a language. While to communicate non-verbal thoughts requires language, the language used to express them could be non-verbal such as gestures, facial and other bodily expressions, or drawings.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

My niece cannot talk yet, but she can certainly think. She makes noises at the right times in conversation, she can reason cause and effect, and it is obvious in her face that she is learning rapidly. I noticed this from about two months old (the first time I saw her truly awake).

The problem with answering this question definitively, is that we still don’t have a neurological definition of a thought. We can say which part of the brain a thought occurs in, or which neurotransmitters are involved in the activation patterns associated with a thought, but it is impossible with today’s knowledge to separate these observations from the rest of the brain’s processes. So while I can assert that most babies are obviously thinking within a week of birth (I work in a paediatric hospital, so I’ve met hundreds of babies), I can’t use my fMRI to tell you if a foetus is thinking. There’s too much statistical noise.

But then again, I can’t even be sure many adults can be said to be thinking.

ARE_you_kidding_me's avatar

I tend to agree that verbal language is not required. When doing things that are spatial like putting a carburetor together I’m not using language at all to think about how it comes apart or goes back together.

ragingloli's avatar

Humans fail the mirror test until they are 18 months old, which makes them dumber than most other apes and monkeys.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@ragingloli Apes can outperform adults in some tasks.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@morphail “I don’t see any evidence for the idea that your child couldn’t think about something before he leaned enough language to communicate it to you.”

That’s not how evidence works. You need evidence that the child can think.

Similar to how Theists claim there is no evidence that a God couldn’t exist. Atheist claim you need evidence that a God does exist. Can’t prove a negative.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@cazzie ” work with children from just under a year old and they are absolutely thinking before they speak.”

How do you know baby is thinking, rather than just observing?

BellaB's avatar

I’ve found it interesting how young babies can communicate/speak if you teach them sign language. There’s a lot more going on in those young brains than most of us are aware of.

Just because the physical ability to speak comes along later doesn’t mean they’re not ready to communicate. They must think we’re incredibly stupid not to understand their efforts to communicate orally.

kritiper's avatar

When the child begins to thread his or her words together into sentences. (This describes conscious thought, not wordless, subconscious, logical reaction.)

morphail's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies if I understand you correctly, you are saying that we can’t think of something without first having the language to think about it with. In other words, the language we speak determines how we think. You wrote that 200 years ago we couldn’t understand epilepsy because we didn’t have the words, which implies that another culture with a different language might have had the words to understand it. This is extreme Sapir-Worfism, and you need evidence for it.

It seems self evident to me that preverbial kids are thinking, but I don’t know much about brain development.

Jak's avatar

One needs an adequate vocabulary to conceptualize as abstract thought.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@morphail
Humans observe phenomenon. We don’t start thinking about it until we begin to describe it. Then we give it a name that fits our thoughtful description.

Humans observed a series of phenomenon that we described and now know as the diagnostic indicators of epilepsy. They are consistent enough to justify giving the group of indicators a name… epilepsy.

Before that, the earliest descriptions of the same indicators were closer to describing demon possession because that’s the only vocabulary we had to describe it with.

Yellowdog's avatar

Not sure when thought begins—- but the first thing you KNOW, ole Jed’s a millionare.

cazzie's avatar

RealEyesRealizeRealLies, if a child is observing, they are thinking. I can take the favourite toy of a 4 month old baby and put it under a blanket. They have no sense of ‘object permanence’ yet, so they cry, thinking the toy disappeared. Babies reach up to be held at about 3 months. At 5 months, they love the game peek a boo because they are learning about object permanence. When we put the young ones down for their naps, the know what they sleep with. They want their smokk and their kosebamse and if they don’t have it, they cry, to communicate to us that things aren’t quite right yet.
Regarding sign language, that is exactly what we do. We teach the children more acceptable forms of communicating at the breakfast and lunch table. Rather than ‘reaching and screeching’ we teach them to knock three times on the table if they want more and when they are done, they clap three times to say ‘takk for mat’ (which is the polite thing here to say when you are done eating). I’ve seen 10 month olds easily catch on to this system.
Babies are explorers and are thinking and learning constantly about their environment. If they didn’t think, they wouldn’t be developing.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Thanks for that input @cazzie. Very interesting. But I don’t suppose we attribute the same meaning behind the events you describe.

Remove nicotine from a habitual smoker, and he’ll have all sorts of reactions without thinking about it at all. Reacting to stimuli, or lack of, is not the same as thinking. Reacting is not equal to acting. Cause/Effect does not equal Thought/Affect.

Observation can occur while thinking. But thinking is not required for observation.

We observe a strange phenomenon atop the horizon. We don’t start thinking about until we say “What is that”. Upon further observation, and thinking, we conclude it is the mongrel hordes coming to burn our village. We reach these conclusions by thinking it through with language. Until then, it’s just a “Dtha!”… using “Dtha” as placeholder word to identify an object that we can then think about, and how we will act upon it… not react to it… but act upon it.

morphail's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies There is plenty of evidence that language does not influence thought that closely. We can translate from one language to another. We can talk about things we don’t have words for by paraphrasing.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Can you share the evidence with me please?

AFAIK… Language is the only mechanism that we can share thoughts with. Language is a physical lens that allows us to view the non physical realm of thought. How else could this happen?

Keep in mind, I said before there are many forms of language. Even the universal proto languages of “hmmph”, “sigh”, “moan”, “laugh”… or a smirk, grin, pinched face, frightened face, or the many body languages can (but not necessarily will) represent thoughts. A pinched face or a moan could also simply represent a reaction to pain… Not a thought about pain.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@morphail “We can talk about things we don’t have words for, ...”

Things…? If it’s a “thing”, and we don’t have a word for it… then we call it “Unidentified Phenomenon”. We couldn’t talk about it if we didn’t call it that. We couldn’t even think about it until we labelled it “Unidentified Phenomenon”. Before that, all we can do is observe it… But just by calling it “it”, or “that”, we’ve labelled the phenomenon with a temporary identification.

Describing it further is also thinking about it. We say It is round… It is bright, it moves across the sky, it is yellow, it is hot, it is being pulled by chariots of the gods who will throw lightning down if we don’t kneel and pray and sacrifice our children upon a bloody alter… Yes, it is possible to over-think “things”

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

My bad… I misspoke… and didn’t use words to represent my thoughts correctly.

I said “We couldn’t even think about it until we labelled it “Unidentified Phenomenon”.”

That’s not true. Labeling something as “it” or “Unidentified Phenomenon”is the very moment when thinking begins. Before that moment, we can only observe.

Even pointing to something is putting a tag on the phenomenon. No spoken words needed. The act of pointing is a symbolic representation of very limited internal thinking about the object.

BellaB's avatar

you’ve very much described a 5 – 6 month old using sign language there @RealEyesRealizeRealLies . Describing things until they learn the words/phrases that adults around them use.

I’ve wondered if anyone is studying communication before the age where we can understand what the child is attempting to tell us about (by way of sign language or speaking). Well, actually, I am fairly sure the research has been going on for years but I stopped following the updates at some point.

flo's avatar

Thanks everyone. I think. I haven’t read all of your posts, (44 of them.
But I think some said vocabulary is necessary to have thoughts, but some have responded with no, because animals react to things properly without vocabulary.

morphail's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies do you know what the Sapir-Worf hypothesis is? The fact that we can translate from one language to another is evidence that language does not constrain thought to the degree you seem to think it does. The fact that I can talk and think about the indentation on the bottom of a wine bottle without having a single word for it is evidence that vocabulary does not constrain thought to the degree you seem to think it does.

Yellowdog's avatar

Some of my earliest memories are not being able to tell or describe or say what I was afraid of as a small child. Spider webs I couldn’t see but walked through, and those I even could—even though I had no words for them. I remember nightmares before I was even able to describe their content.
I can remember vividlythe fascination of seeing lightening strike near a pole and the glass insulators lit up, and not being able to describe or say a single word about what I just saw.

And even today I have no words for things (such as wind through windmills or sand through fingers) or common lighting effects seen every day.

Vocabulary only describes and defines and communicates thoughts to others. It is certainly NOT the other way around.

Jak's avatar

@Yellowdog. And yet, and yet, do you never remember thinking of a problem for a period of time and then talking about it and finding the answer? You had to articulate the thought to come to the conclusion. The process was there, stewing around in your head but you didn’t come to the conclusion until you spoke the words. The process was incomplete up until that point. I have proved that theory to myself over and over again, without once ever intending to. It always comes to me after I find whatever answer; “Oh, right! Why didn’t I just say this aloud to begin with? Duuuurrrrr”

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

You had to articulate the thought to come to the conclusion.

I put peanuts in a knothole in the tree in front of my place for the squirrels.

Some genius squirrel noticed that I open the squeaky gate before I emerge and put peanuts in the tree. So at the sound of the gate, she ran to greet me at the gate, to get first dibs before the other squirrels.

Then Ms. Einstein noticed that I open the side door to the building before I reach the gate. So she now jumps down and escorts me from the door, through the gate, and out to the tree.

My furry friend is definitely thinking, “if a guy comes out that door he probably will put peanuts in the tree.”

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Call_Me_JayPavlovian Dogs don’t think. They react to stimuli. Cause/Effect does not equal Thought/Affect.

@morphail “do you know what the Sapir-Worf hypothesis is? The fact that we can translate from one language to another is evidence that language does not constrain thought to the degree you seem to think it does.”

Whorfianism has both supporters and critics. The strong argument being almost universally rejected in favor of the weak argument. And I think your statement might not represent the theory properly. Consider revisiting the link provided.

Nor are you representing my position properly. I didn’t say language “constrained” thought. I claim that language makes thought possible. Quite the opposite of how you characterize my position.

Facts of translation are better defined through Information Theory and Communication Theory.

Décolletage has no English counterpart. But the word is defined beginning with “is” and multiple English words can relate the concept perfectly fine. Only through words can we share these concepts. So I don’t understand why you believe that I claim language “constrains” thought. My position is exactly the opposite.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@BellaB “ou’ve very much described a 5 – 6 month old using sign language there @RealEyesRealizeRealLies . Describing things until they learn the words/phrases that adults around them use.”

Sign language is“words/phrases that adults around them use.” Babies learn it from adults. It is a language. The hand positions are words.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Thinking about this discussion, I was preparing to walk the dog. Half way through tying my shoe, I realized that I wasn’t thinking about tying my shoe. I was just doing it, while thinking about this discussion.

I don’t believe that just because a baby is doing something means they are thinking about it.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies Language is not the only medium through which we can communicate thoughts. We can communicate through various forms of art also. If I’m going to draw a diagram of how an engine works, I may stop to consider whether I’ll draw a piston, conrod, or camshaft next. But while I’m drawing, I’m making the piston appear on paper in a thoughtful, considered way without necessarily having words attached to the act.

morphail's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I believed that you claim that language constrains thought because you wrote:
“He could only think about his observation to the degree that he had words to think about it upon.”
and
“I’ve heard it said many times, that people who speak French, English, and or Japanese actually think in different ways depending upon what language they use to describe a phenomenon.”
and
“Not so long ago, we thought of epilepsy as demon possession, because the phenomenal awareness, labels, and descriptions didn’t exist for us to think about it any other way.”

All this implies that you think that your language strongly influences how you think. Maybe “constrain” was the wrong word, but either way it sounds Worfian to me.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

An example of what I consider thinking to be…

Thinking about tying my shoe requires me to embrace the concept of a foot, and a shoe, and string, and the motions necessary to complete the knot. But just tying my shoe doesn’t require that I actually think about it. I could just do it in a thoughtless manner.

@FireMadeFlesh
Representing an object with a symbol is the process of using language. It doesn’t need to be spoken language to be a language. It could be drum beats or color codes… or an artistic rendering of an object or concept. No spoken words required.

@morphail
Not only influence, but make it possible. As I said before, the bumble bee cannot think about a coffee cup. The bee has no words in the figure 8 dance to describe it. And unlike humans, the bee cannot create new words to expand thought potential.

“I’ve heard it said many times, that people who speak French, English, and or Japanese actually think in different ways depending upon what language they use to describe a phenomenon.”

I have. 100% of the time. But I’ve never experienced it for myself. I only speak on language. I’ve never heard one multilingual person claim otherwise.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies If you’re going to call any form of codified thought “language”, then your argument is circular.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

This Worfian description relates the potential of different languages to provide different dynamics of thought. The English version relates outcome and tool. While the Shawnee relate the necessity of motion to accomplish the same result.

@FireMadeFlesh “If you’re going to call any form of codified thought “language”, then your argument is circular.”

How does that follow? Please explain. AFAIK, all codified thought is language… because… all codes are languages.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies You have been arguing throughout this thread that language is necessary for thought. Now you state that any expression of a thought is language.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Let me be clear.

Thinking, is the process of describing observations with language.

Respectfully, I shouldn’t have jumped to exactly repeating the words you put into my mount… :)

Until then, all we can do is observe… or just do without thinking about anything at all.
______

Perhaps we need a break from this… so we can all think this through. How will we do this without the mechanism of words to think a thought upon? What other mechanism could thought possibly be operating upon? No one has provided an alternate mechanism to language.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I disagree. Thinking is the process of synthesising observations into a more complex idea. Language is used in the vast majority of thoughts, but not in all thoughts. If we’re going to reflect on this discussion, of course we are going to use language to do so.

When I am taking an x-ray, which is something I am proficient at, I am thinking the whole time about how to achieve the best image. But at no time do I think “I need to reach for this sponge to support the patient in this way”. I observe the patient’s presentation, and the appropriate approach becomes apparent. What form of language would you suggest I am using when executing a complex spatial task?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Very good. The process you describe is similar to my shoe tying story.

As I’ve noted distinguishing the differences between thinking and just doing, we should also consider the potential differences between thinking and knowing.

I’ll use the concept of An athlete in “the zone” to illustrate my point. Through training, the athlete learns and comes to know how a desired result is accomplished. Perhaps musicians are the same.

At some point (and there have been studies on this with musicians estimating 10,000 hours of practice), the subject engrains the process into their neural structure so firmly that they can accomplish the task at the highest level without actually thinking about it at all. They simply know. It has literally become a part of them.

Confucius describes such knowing in a couple of stories about a fisherman and a butcher, who describe their process as beyond thinking, and just doing it.

morphail's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
@FireMadeFlesh is right. You say that language is required for thought, and thought is the process of describing observations with language. Your reasoning is moving in a circular fashion.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

The two points made in your second sentence are supporting one another… Not contradicting one another.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies You’re right, to some extent I know rather than think that a solution solves a problem. But what about the case where a novel stimulus is presented to an expert? If a proficient musician is presented with a new work of music, do they revert to a linguistic representation to play that piece? If I encounter a new level of patient restriction that requires a new approach, do I use language in my spatial reasoning?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I don’t know. Great insight.

The Unexpected Emergency… Do we think our way through it? Or do we move our way through it? Do we act upon it, or do we react to it?

Perhaps it depends on our previous knowledge of whatever situation we’re facing.

I suppose a well trained fireman is reacting to a situation upon the mechanism of previously earned knowledge. Perhaps similar to how our brains enact facial recognition, or a universal smile, compared to all the other smiles we’ve encountered in our experience.

I suppose a non trained person in the same situation would not react, but instead… act upon the event by thinking it through clearly… using language to answer the question of “what should I do”? They’ll make a plan… with words.

The process of a non trained person would probably engage our fight or flight mechanism. Flight being a reaction. Fight being a thoughtful action. The trained fireman just does what his training has engrained within him.

morphail's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies your definition of “thinking” contains language, so of course language is required for thinking. It’s circular.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Oye… That’s like claiming conscious humans should not ponder upon the unconscious cosmos because our consciousness arose from an unconscious cosmos.

I’ll take my chances.

Yellowdog's avatar

Okay, then— this is a serious question but I don’t want to disrupt the discussion. Is it impossible to willfully STOP thinking and just act?

For Sci-Fi and Horror writers, I suppose zombies and ghosts might function this way. Things that are truly alive, however, think and act on their thoughts and decisions.

trolltoll's avatar

I have nothing to contribute except to say that I’m really enjoying reading the thought-provoking and insightful discussion that this question has generated. I think that this, here, is fluther as it is meant to be.

Actually, I have a question for the language-as-prerequisite proponents of thought. What do you think is happening when we can’t remember a word, and we have to search our brains for it? Do we lose a portion of our thoughtfulness until that word is remembered?

Furthermore, is the magnitude of our thought directly related to the size of our vocabulary?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Yellowdog “Is it impossible to willfully STOP thinking and just act?”

Writers block vs free flow writing… first… requires one to think a plan of action to engage the maneuver. The purpose being to stop thinking and start doing.

I’m a billiards enthusiast. I play terrible when over-thinking… but singing a happy tune inside my head sets my thought onto another task, and allows me to sport freely without w.o.r.r.y.i.n.g. about my performance. You don’t want to play me when I’m listening to the Beatles in my mind… ;).

Meditation techniques are available to help a person overcome the thinking process. Apparently spontaneous healing%27Dis-ease%26+Spontaneous+Remissions%27+%27Conversations+with+Robyn%27+Robyn+Walker+ is possible with deep meditative techniques. I found it hard to believe until I listened to all the Dr. Joe Testimonials. Really inspiring.

@trolltoll “What do you think is happening when we can’t remember a word, and we have to search our brains for it?”

Brain fart… (temporary blocked neural connection).

@trolltoll “Do we lose a portion of our thoughtfulness until that word is remembered?”

Perhaps. Or perhaps the thoughtfulness is directly relevant to the degree we know the subject matter, regardless if we can or can’t find the right word at the moment. Finding the right word relates a process of reviewing your inner catalog of previously learned words. With the inherent redundancy in all languages (to varying degrees), chances are that an accumulation of other words can stand in place for the one missing word that can’t be acquired at that moment. Poetic phrasing can also assist in relating the thought.

@trolltoll ”...is the magnitude of our thought directly related to the size of our vocabulary?”

Worfian theory linked above is hotly debated by major players like Chomsky and many others, on both sides, and for both the weak and strong arguments. I believe truth usually lies in the middle of fiercely debated subjects.

I don’t know fully how I personally feel about it for what you call “the magnitude of our thought”. But I do fully believe that multi lingual people have a greater conscious awareness of the phenomenon around them. They have more ways of describing, defining, and considering the realities around them… Unlike the bumble bee, or whales, or wolves.

I also know that great thinkers like Terrence McKenna seem to possess a greater conscious awareness simply because they are so incredibly well read, and can serve up their stories with fantastic vocabulary, even if they only speak one language.

Bill1939's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies What would you call the brain activity that preceeds action if not thought? Wouldn’t the acquired habit of shoe tying take over that behavior while you verbally thought about something else?

cazzie's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies So, because my son and I have TWO words in TWO languages for everything, does that mean we think twice as much as someone with only one language?

Jak's avatar

Just wanted to jump back in and point out that there are not equivalent words for everything in every language. Languages are constructed differently and structured differently and a good percentage of words in English do not have exact equivalent words in other languages and vice versa. I could list numerous examples but I’m sure that most of you will understand this. Additionally, speaking in a different language fluently does equate with thinking in that language. I just heard this exact concept expressed by another democratic presidential candidate nicknamed “Rocky” something. He made it a point to emphasize that when he speaks English, he thinks in English and when he speaks Spanish, he thinks in Spanish . And yes, one is limited by the vocabulary available to one to articulate abstract concepts, and it follows that one’s language impacts this.

morphail's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies
You wrote that I need to provide evidence that a preverbial child can think. But since thinking is, in your words, “the process of describing observations with language”, there is no evidence that will convince you that thinking can occur without language.

cazzie's avatar

Realeyes is suffering from what we call in the education biz as a misconception.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@Bill1939 “What would you call the brain activity that preceeds action if not thought? ”

I’d call them neural connections. And they don’t necessarily have to come from the brain.

The heart and the intestines also contain neurons. Quite a lot of them. They accomplish important tasks, but should we consider that as really thinking… ? They carry out “action” without any thinking required. Thus, I don’t believe thought and action are necessarily connected. Reaction to stimuli is not equal to thinking.

@morphail ”...since thinking is, in your words, “the process of describing observations with language”, there is no evidence that will convince you that thinking can occur without language.”

Not at all. I asked for another mechanism beyond language that thinking can function upon. Things don’t just happen. I provide language as the mechanism that thinking functions upon. Others says it’s not the only one, but never provide an alternative mechanism. Just provide an alternative mechanism that thinking can function upon.

@cazzie “Realeyes is suffering from what we call in the education biz as a misconception.”

Quite unfair to shoot the messenger just because you don’t agree with the message. Mockery does not move discovery or science forward. It stifles it. My comments are based upon fifteen years of research. I’ve also done my best to address every challenge with respect and clarity, clearly stating when I don’t know, and when I suppose. Weigh that against the anecdotal opinions of some others and please reconsider who is suffering misconception.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@cazzie ”...my son and I have TWO words in TWO languages for everything, does that mean we think twice as much as someone with only one language?”

Please see my response to @trolltoll two posts directly above your question. Specifically the last two paragraphs.

cazzie's avatar

RealEyes, what, exactly, is your topic of research? And also, how many languages do you speak in your mind, think in and dream in?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Mind, body, and potentially… spirit connection.

cazzie's avatar

Language, you say, is the only way we can share our thoughts and ideas in. This is your misconception. Most of what we communicate is indicated in our body language, facial expression and tone of voice. You don’t need to understand French to realise that you’ve upset the waiter at a restaurant or understand the words he is using while he kicks you out because you asked for ketchup on your steak. We understand things, first and foremost, on a non-verbal level. Children know by the look on your face whether you are pleased with them or upset with them. One of the first words they learn is their name and we are taught to ensure their name doesn’t become associated with the naughty things they do. Their name can come to represent their self image and we, as early educators, need to ensure they maintain a positive self image. It isn’t just about words.

cazzie's avatar

‘Mind, body, and potentially… spirit connection.’ What scientific discipline is that exactly?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I would call it a combination of metaphysics and information theory.

Hold on, I’m talking to my mother.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@cazzie I agree with everything you claim in the above comments. But I’d like to point out that body language is language. This includes facial expression. You can see way above where I detailed the proto languages.

I teach this stuff to students every week. Ten people per class. It is the most ancient art form on the planet… the art of the orator. Since before spoken language, we’ve been communicating with one another with expression, inflection and posturing.

ragingloli's avatar

sounds like misappropriation of singular scientific fields to fuel new age hocus pocus, like that dreaded “quantum mysticism”

cazzie's avatar

Well, I study and apply on a daily basis, early childhood development. Philosophy is interesting, if you are a freshmen at college, but it isn’t science. Where we meet is how we teach the children, especially when their language is more developed. Socratic learning is important in our system of teaching the children, but it comes with the older kids when they are 3 to 6 years old. Their thoughts become more complex and perhaps adults find they can relate better. I’ll give you a great example that came up recently at my science group. A fellow early childhood teacher took the kids out to look at nature. They found some peonies and saw they were covered in ants. They teacher asked the kids open ended questions about why were the ants on the peonies. The kids answered from what they observed. The peonies appeared to be covered in an attractive sap. The teacher asked, ‘What are the ants doing?’... the kids replied, ‘Maybe by eating the sap, and the sap is probably sweet because ants like sweet things, it helps the peonies to open and bloom.’ So, the took these observations and searched the internet. The children’s observations, instinctive as they were, were absolutely right. The children had learned to deduce based on things they knew about ants and flowers. This is absolutely thinking, but it is thinking on a higher level that what they did at 1 year old. It doesn’t mean they weren’t thinking then. It just means they were learning to think in a more abstract way.

cazzie's avatar

But if you teach this, why don’t you say that there is thought before language?

cazzie's avatar

Working with younger children requires a serious degree of natural empathy. We need to ascertain what the children are communicating without the benefit of an oral language.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Because body language is language.

cazzie's avatar

that is not what you were saying to begin with. So, now you admit that children without spoken language are thinking.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

That’s not what you understood. But it is exactly what I was saying. Again, I detailed above many different forms of body language, calling them proto language.

But just because a person moves, doesn’t mean any messages are being sent. There isn’t necessarily any intention behind it. But there could be.

If a person moans, then one observer might infer that they are in pain. But another observer might infer they are experiencing joy. The communication protocol isn’t officially established to know for sure if there is any intention represented by the moan, or if it’s simply a reaction to stimuli, without any intention at all.

cazzie's avatar

So, because the receiver can’t understand the message being sent, we can dismiss it as not having any thought behind it?

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Nupe. That would be like a Chinese speaker sending a message to an English speaker who couldn’t translate the message. The English speaker wouldn’t know either way, for sure. But of course the English speaker might infer that a message was being sent.

But if I use English to say “jjsdofiu;l;asdlusoi”… that’s just meaningless gibberish. No message sent, regardless of the language or translations.

cazzie's avatar

So, no thought behind the message sent. because the receiver doesn’t understand.

cazzie's avatar

I think you need to spend some time at the day care at your college.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

There may or may not be thought represented by the transmission. But the receiver couldn’t know either way… unless…

Chinese speaker points to a chair, and says “Yizi”. Then the English speaker labels the same thing as “Chair”. Upon that moment, we begin to map probability space A to probability space B, and communication protocols start to be established.

We can only know that intention is represented when protocols are established by the standard of Perlwitz, Burks, and Waterman’s formal definition of code.

That’s what SETI uses to sift through all the cosmic noise to look for a genuine signal that conforms to the PBW protocols. If it doesn’t, then it’s not a language.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

“There may or may not be thought represented by the transmission.”

If there isn’t, then there really isn’t any transmission at all. Just white noise being mistaken for one.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

That’s how religions start up…

The moon covers the sun and the villagers cry “What does this mean?!?”.

It doesn’t mean anything at all. It’s just a meaningless phenomenon that humans attribute meaning upon with words of description.

cazzie's avatar

Wow,... interesting that you should bring SETI into this. I have friends there. BBE works with the NRAO. But also, you are dragging issues into this discussion that have little to do with early childhood development, but if you want to talk about NRAO, I can get them to chat with you directly, if you actually hold a position with a real university.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Nope sorry. I’m a high school dropout that flunked out of three different colleges. I’m a nobody.

cazzie's avatar

Well then.. I guess I called your bluff. Stop talking shit, please.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Why am I talking shit? I speak the truth as well as I can. What bluff did you call?

cazzie's avatar

NO, your opinion is not fact. It is only your opinion. I am trying to quote work done over years and also recent work done by child psychologists and development specialists. I work in the industry every day I can. Your comments belittle the work we do. You negate the importance of the priority we put on the children. I can only defend my job and my knowledge and experience. Misguided information only hurts children. I’m here as a defender of their rights and of their abilities. They aren’t all able in the same sense, but I’m here as their advocate. I will always be their advocate.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I shared knowledge learned through disciplined study. You may accept my sharing, reject it, or refute it.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Again, shoot the messenger. But can you refute anything that I’ve shared?

cazzie's avatar

You hold on to this idea that if the message can’t be understood, then there is no thought behind it. THIS is flawed. absolutely. Also, you admit to being a drop out with no actual practical knowledge…. I mean… really….. just stop. You aren’t a messenger. You are, by your own admission, a nobody.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

When did I say that?

I’ve repeatedly said that the receiver cannot know either way, unless protocols are established. I even gave an example.

Please stop claiming that I said something that I didn’t. It is disingenuous to the discussion.

cazzie's avatar

Well, then you aren’t communicating properly. and I am only quoting what you have said. Because, oddly enough, we don’t have the benefit of body language or tone of voice here. or facial expression. Rather limited, isn’t it?

cazzie's avatar

good luck establishing ‘protocols’ with a 9 month old baby.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I don’t see any quotations in your so called “quoting”. That’s how “communicating properly” is supposed to happen.

Protocols can be established with a baby through the sign language teaching.

Earliest protocols begin being established through mimicry. Mother mimics baby to establish connection… a line of communication… It’s like building telephone lines. The infrastructure must be in place.

Then baby mimics mother when she points to the object and associates a symbol with it… “Ball”. Baby mimics “Ba”... and we’ve established a communication protocol, and can therefor confirm that baby has real thoughts about the object. The first thought being that of identification.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I shouldn’t say “mother”. I should say caregiver.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Out to walk the dog. Will return soon after lunch with my mumz.

cazzie's avatar

In my world, baby has to communicate with more adults than just mother. Caregiver is ‘caregivers’ Try again. And it is nonverbal. It works because we have a developed sense of empathy. It is the only reason it works. We read the children. They don’t have the verbal language to express themselves so I have to work to understand what is behind the behaviour. You lack a very basic knowledge of child behaviour, but I’ll give you a short look into the depth of what we do. No,,, you know what, I don’t owe you anything. You refuse to understand, so I’m not going to share my intimate knowledge of these children. You haven’t earned it.

morphail's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies but… You claimed that your preverbal child could only think about the dinosaur to the degree that he had words to think about it with. I asked how you knew that. You answered by saying I needed to provide evidence that he was thinking. But your definition of “thinking” includes language. So you know he wasn’t thinking because he had no language. And because he had no language, he wasn’t thinking. Bumblebees.

cazzie's avatar

If RealEyes does want to discuss the side issue of SETI and the NRAO, and can represent himself as worthy of such discussion, I can be reached by private message here and he can send his qualifications and staff position and I can send it on. The people at NRAO are happy to discuss their work with qualified educational personnel.

cazzie's avatar

You continue to contradict yourself. I dislike disingenuous argument.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I’m awaiting your “quotes”, and now awaiting proof of contradiction. Please support your accusation.

cazzie's avatar

You said first that thought could only be expressed because of language. Now, you are saying, oh…. Body Language is in that group…. but then you say, if that body language or vocalisation can’t be understood by the receiver, then it isn’t really thought. What did I miss understand?

cazzie's avatar

But you brought up the issue of SETI and NRAO…. so, I’m always a facilitator of learning and communication, so I would be happy to enable an introduction.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

How does any of the first two statements contradict one another? And for the third time… the third time… the third time… I said the receiver cannot know either way until PBW protocols are established. Then they can know.

I’ve been insulted, mocked, misrepresented, pseudo quoted out of context. I must really be on to something.

I didn’t bring up any “issue” with SETI. I simply noted that they use the same protocols as everyone else to verify if genuine communication is possible. You may attempt to make my comment into an “issue”, then project it upon me. But I know better.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Yes @morphail, neither one of us can confirm the preverbal child was thinking about the dinosaur. It could easily have been a simply reaction to stimuli… an observation which caused a reaction of excitement.

Later, he said “Dtha!”, and associated an image with an object. Upon that moment, we can confirm he was actually thinking about the object because he represented it with an image… the image of a word. That’s all words are… little pictures of thought.

cazzie's avatar

Well, first of all, PBW protocols make no sense. It isnt the third time,regardless of how many times you repeat it. I’m happy to connect you with the SETI people so they can explain better the concept of which you seem to be mis understanding.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@cazzie PBW protocols are followed with every communication since the beginning of communication. You can’t have a conversation without using them. The protocols are followed by DNA as well.

cazzie's avatar

PBW protocols are NOT followed for every communication. You are outdated again and if I can help you connect with actual scientific updated versions of what you think you know, give me you your information and I will be happy to pass it on.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

You really must be joking @cazzie. You’re a really funny lady with a great sense of humor.

Really great joke there. Fun talking with you.

kritiper's avatar

If I may be so bold…
Some uneducated nobody had to be the first philosopher. Or what have you.
One of my favorite sayings to NEVER assume ANYTHING (if at all possible). Any dumb ass or uneducated nobody can have a brilliant idea, or devise the ultimate solution to a problem, or see clearly enough to divest the correct answer despite their lack of ivy sprawled credentials. So we should all be open minded enough to assume that this could possibly be true, despite the odds against such, in this world of Murphy’s law.
Thank you.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@kritiper True, but the first philosopher was probably a poor philosopher. Academic pursuits are all about “standing on the shoulders of giants”.

cazzie's avatar

Some people are too arrogant to stand on shoulders and think they have a perfectly good view from where they stand. Alone. If he does have students, I feel bad for them.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

@cazzie

Words cannot express my gratitude for your intimate display of empathy for people you don’t even know. My students and I applaud you. You set a fine example for us all. Imagine if everyone in the world showed such compassion and expressed sorrow for the less fortunate strangers we share the world with. Planet earth would truly be a better place if more people followed your example.

I hope to set your mind at ease. My students are in very good hands, and very successful with the knowledge I teach them. I would have replied earlier but I had class today. Eight people. Another eight tomorrow. Nearly five hundred last year. And I’ve been doing this for over three decades now.

I teach my students body language. It is the most ancient form of communication, even before spoken language. I teach this on the weekends. Here’s a small example of how I get them started. And Here’s another. Then I hire them as commercial talent for the advertising and editorial jobs that I direct and shoot during the week days. I pay them between $200—$500 per hour. See the links below for some samples of the hire work that I shoot and use them for. This is all within the last year. Just a few.

Fathers Day Campaign
Apple MacBook Advertisement
Halloween Campaign
Comcast Campaign
Beauty Campaign

I also shoot video of them for local TV commercials. Excuse the quality, but here’s some raw footage of a Valentines Campaign. And another of the same talent shot earlier that day for a Christmas Campaign. That’s the stuff I shoot and direct. I can’t show you the finished work because the contract doesn’t allow for it.

My talent have appeared in many national TV commercials for clients (like Budweiser) and TV Shows (like Empire) and motion pictures (like Superman). I work hard for them. They’re very pleased with what I do for them.
_____

And thank you for making me face the realities of my academic failures. I was the artist of the family. My father, a computer scientist at Bell Labs wasn’t too thrilled with my choice of career. He’s the one who got me interested in code, language, and communication protocols. He understands why every communication in history follows the Shannon Theory of Communication. And that for the theory to work, it must utilize a genuine code as set forth by Purlwitz, Burks, and Waterman in there formal definition.

Imagine him drilling and drilling this crap into my head throughout childhood. All I wanted to do was sing and dance.

But father is very pleased with my son, who graduated University of Miami FL with a degree in NeuroPhysics, with published papers on inflamazones. Then he attended University of San Diego Department of Mathematics and Computer Science. He’s now taken a position with Linux working in their artificial intelligence department. You know what’s strange? My son uses the same models and protocols as my old dad did back in the day. Well not so strange really, considering that every communication from DNA transcription to Bumble Bee waggle dance adheres to the identical principles.

You see, these are the only methods to detect if a real communication is being sent, or if noise is being mistaken for a communication. That’s why I urge you to send those links above to your friends at SETI, and see if they agree those same models are what they use to determine if Alien life is really attempting to contact us, or if they’re just listening to a black hole belch another star out of existence.

If you’d like to see a hollywood example of this, then go to Netflix and watch the movie Contact. Or see one of the ET Contact scenes here. If you watch closely, and have your Shannon and PBW models close, you’ll see that the movie does a great job at actually following those models. Now, not everyone will know this obviously. Just look at the faces of the Gov officials as their eyes gloss over because they don’t relate to the protocols… actually that scene is a little before the one I linked to.
______

Anyway… I appreciate you pointing out my flaws and addressing me with skepticism. That’s the safest way to be on the net these days when you don’t really know who you’re talking to. Another great example.

This thread has also provided our entire fluther community with insight to what mockery and insults bring to a discussion. We can all consider if that type of conversation says anything real about the person they are cast upon, or more about the person who casts them.

With great respect, I thank you for the conversation.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies So, basically you are a photographer and videographer, and because you train and employ models/actors in this work, you call yourself a teacher? That’s quite the misrepresentation. I mean, it sounds like there is a minor teaching component in what you do, but we are well over 100 posts into this thread before you actually explain how minor a component that is. That is not okay.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

I appreciate you chiming in @dappled_leaves. But I cannot allow you to sum up my career or business model with such little knowledge. I would never attempt to put you into a box.

My students take classes. They may or may not build a demo reel or portfolio.

I still find it interesting that this thread has now turned into an attack against me, rather than any real effort to refute my well supported argument. Typical.

Thanks for your judgement.
_____

“because you train and employ models/actors in this work, you call yourself a teacher? That’s quite the misrepresentation.”

What would you call it? What do you call a trade school teacher that helps his students find employment? I would call him a teacher, and an agent, and/or an employer. What would you call him? Somehow carpenter doesn’t quite fit the description.
_____

And it’s not a “minor component” considering someone “feels bad” for them, without really knowing anything about it. I was accused. I answered my accuser. Or should I just allow ignorant judgement to stand unanswered?

Jak's avatar

From another thread; “I explored my actual feelings about this woman for the first time while I was writing that all out. I am beginning to see how one-sided our relationship has been. I suppose I knew this already, but haven’t said it aloud until now.”
This Jellie has supported my first statement. He/she had a thought and it had been there for some ime, but the person had it fully brought to conscious knowledge only after articulation. An incomplete, unformed thought remains in the background until it is birthed on the stage of consciousness by articulation; then comes the “Aha” moment and one can then take the next step.

cazzie's avatar

So you aren’t a University professor. Well, how about that.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Beautiful @Jak.

“So you aren’t a University professor. Well, how about that.”

In the most sincere way @cazzie, I’d like to know…
What do you think, makes you think that?

jca's avatar

While fascinating to watch, this whole thread has devolved into people attacking each others’ credentials. I am going to request that the mods request the OP move to social.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Only one person’s credentials have been questioned. I hope I’ve have addressed that. I’m good with it all, but I understand your concern @jca.

My last comment was an attempt to bring the conversation back to “thinking”.

dappled_leaves's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies “I still find it interesting that this thread has now turned into an attack against me, rather than any real effort to refute my well supported argument. Typical.”

It’s not an attack against you. You seem determined not to just set down your opinion on this question, but to set yourself up as an authority on the matter and argue with anyone presenting different information. You are using the fact that you have students as a way of showing that we should trust your opinion. Of course we want to know what qualifies you to be teaching, and at what level.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Besides language, does anyone have another mechanism that can confirm one way or another if thinking is or is not occurring?

YARNLADY's avatar

@RealEyesRealizeRealLies I wonder if the unborn baby moving their arms and legs is a sign that perhaps they are experimenting with movement, which would indicate thought.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Perhaps. Above I addressed the idea of movement. I’m personally not convinced that movement indicates thought. Many of our body parts move without thinking about them. I just walked the dog, and I never once thought about moving my legs. We can get movement out of a dead corpse by applying electricity. No thought required.

But, the baby may be “experimenting” indeed. Not saying it couldn’t happen. My position of language is that it is the only way we can confirm one way or another. That’s why SETI was brought into the discussion. The protocols allow them to tell the difference between a genuine alien signal which indicates thought, or a natural spacial anomaly that may look like a signal, but turns out to be a thoughtless event.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Last year, I cut my hand very badly.

From the instant… (actually almost before the instant… like I knew what was coming)… but from the very instant that I smashed my four knuckles onto the serrated steel, I knew… I just knew that I had cut my hand really bad. I knew… without thinking. There was no time for thinking. I just knew.

Subconsciously, instantly, my neural connections compared the current event against the catalog of experiences my brain had accumulated. And, I believe, like the athlete in the zone, and the musician who’s accumulated ten thousand hours of practice, and… like @FireMadeFlesh‘s description of making XRays basically on auto pilot… my mind was able to •know a thing• without ever once thinking about it. Past experience negated the need for thinking. I see this as an extreme evolutionary advantage. Defensive reactions should get faster every time we survive a wild animal attack. Those who know without thinking should have a great advantage over those who take the time to think about it. Blink… and you’re lunch.

Still, without thinking, I observed my hand. Just observing, for a fraction of a second. Processing that observation, I finally began to think upon the mechanism of language…. with words like…
“Wow, my blood is really bright red. I wonder if it’s so bright because I’m seeing my blood in the bright outdoor sunlight. I’ve never seen my blood this bright before. Wow, all four knuckles. Is that bone? Wow, I can see the bone inside my fingers. I wonder why it doesn’t hurt? I’m going to need stitches. I can’t stop my project right now. Maybe I can get stitches tomorrow. Maybe this will heal on its own. This isn’t so bad. This is starting to hurt. I better stop and go to the med center. I wonder how much this is going to cost. What’s my deductible? Maybe I should just pay cash and not hike my rates up. Damn this is hurting, etc…”

Yep, I was thinking really hard about my injury. But the thinking came after the neural catalog reference, the epiphany of realization upon me (the knowing), and the observation… which led to forming thoughts with words… and those thoughts could only be formed with words I had available in my mental catalog. If I spoke French, perhaps I would have formed slightly different thoughts about it all.

longgone's avatar

[Mod says] Moved to Social with OP’s permission.

RedDeerGuy1's avatar

25. That’s when the human brain finishes developing.

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