June 2, 2011

Thinking without language

Baboon, National Geographic
I found an interesting article on physorg. It's called "Monkeys might be more logical than we think". Here's an excerpt:
The implications of these findings are broader than the lives of baboons. Says Fagot: “The real question is ‘What is thinking without language?’” Without words, can creatures process the things they see and accomplish cognitively challenging tasks? These brand-new findings, he says, “suggest there is thinking without language.”
I've wondered about this over the years. It seems to me we often think without language. It's not like we're constantly talking to ourselves while we're alone. We simply do things and think of things and words don't enter the picture -- at least, at times. The question is: can we do something mentally challenging without words? Is that possible? It's interesting to consider, isn't it? (And no, math doesn't apply. It has its own language.)

So tell me. Do you think in words all the time? And does this extend to complicated tasks?


Artichoke Annie said...

This post had me 'thinking' since you put it up. I could feel my brain squirming about in my head, trying desperately to reach the keyboard and send out some message.

What are words anyway? It is necessary for them to be typed or written out to be categorized as words?

I talk to myself, not out loud, but inside my heard. Thoughts whirl about wearing various word-clothes. They get picked up put on, taken off and tossed about.

Our words are different from a baboon's but I can certainly imagine them thinking in their own language - maybe in Latin.

writenow said...

You have been "the fulsome commenter" this morning, leaving a slew of interesting notes on my posts. As for this one, keep watching your brain! (Like "Watch the Skies!" in sci-fi movies). I don't think I use words much at all in my thinking, though there are also periods where I make lots of sentences up, just for fun. But that's two different things. No words are attached to actual thinking, as far as I can tell. Who knows? Maybe we're all different on this score.