Ahh this drives me crazy, i've been thinking alot of it. It's sitting next to Decartes old saying.. "i think therefore i am" (Or i think he said "i doubt, therefor i am") Of all things we can come up with in science this is the only thing anyone can be truly certain of. And at the same time the "doubt" or self-awareness is the one thing we (now) cannot even begin to explain.
It is almost like the "soul" problem of christianity. How can we have a soul, separated from matter, and still be influenced by it ? It is impossible. And if it isn't completly separated we should be able to measure it's quantities, which then makes it no soul. If it is completly separated from matter, it becomes pointless. Since how does then the soul connect to the "me" in my brain ?
If consiousness arises from higher forms of information complexity, like nerv-clusters how can it influese the nerves themselves ?
I tend to believe that it has to be a gradual awakening... that allmost all forms of life has some kind of awareness... even if it is just pain and joy. Still... the simplest form of self-replicating molecule can't have it. Or can it ? If there is a first level of complexity where feelings arise, maybe that could be found, if a lot of effort were put into it. Maybe there is some kind of measurable quantity that changes when a selfreplicating system goes from 100 to 101 atoms ? Sounds unlikly but... grrrrr
Maybe consiousness sits in everthing. In the matter itself. Uhu. In the structure of the universe. I generally don't believe things like that. But in this issue i don't know what to think.
[QUOTE]Originally posted by robinrohan: "feelings"--an emotion as opposed to an abstract idea. My dog whimpers because it feels sad. But I don't think the dog is thinking. It doesn't know why it feels sad. I think a dog's whole consciousness is one feeling after another--feelings of comfort, pain, lacks, cosiness, etc. Without language, we cannot think.[/B][/QUOTE]
How can you say that some beeing can actually feel something, but not know why it is sad ? If the dog only feels sad, and doesn't connect it with a "why" what good would that feeling possible do to the dog ? That would be a dog on LSD. How would such a creature function in a group ? I would really like to see a dog like that. It sounds really unrealistic. It can't learn anytning from the feeling!
Imho, if dogs couldn't connect pain with the action that caused it, dogs would be extinct, wouldn't they ?
I throw a stick, and when the dog brings it back, I give the dog a reward, and he feels happy. The dog connects the action of fetching the stick with the fact that he was rewarded directly from me, and/or with the good feeling.
Isn't that an act of thinking ??
I also disagree with "without a language, we cannot think". What do you mean by language ? Spoken language ? Sign language ? Image language ? The internal language in your brain ?
How do you suggest a 1-month old baby actually learn to speak in the first place if it has no language to do the reasoning with from the beginning ? By copy-paste ?
...another thing... the other day i watched something on TV about chimps. Some scientists were communicating with the chimps via 150 images, which the chimps could point at on a computer screen to form simple sentances. They understood concequeses in the future. One monkey were given a mirror, which she broke. She broke maybe 3 mirrors. Then they told her that if she didnt brake a mirror for 2 days she would get some blueberries. She really wanted to brake the mirror, but instead she protected it for 2 days, and got the blueberries. Then afterwards she broke the mirror. ( to her joy ) They also played numbergames with the chimps, in which she showed the chimp maybe 25 berries. Then she hid some of them in her hand, and left 7 of them on the ground. The chimp calculated how many were not hidden and deduced that she must have 18 in her hand.. and so on...
quote:Originally posted by robinrohan: Technocore, you make a good point about which came first, the language or the thought. I don't have the answer to that. My point is that you have to have some kind of medium to think in--and language is that medium.
I don't agree really. Or rather I believe the problem is how do you define a language ? The simplest form of language should be some form of basic logic-manipulation of objects. But then again isn't that also exactly what an advanced language is ?
Lets take the "brain" of a simple creature like and ant. Almost by definition it _has to have_ some form of internal language in the brain. Something that knits together the different impulses, processes them and produces a response. And does so with logic. So there is some kind of medium, even though it is not represented through spoken words. Everything(concepts) in a brain is in the end representated by electrical charges, and some chemicals. Surely these (propably simple) concepts don't need words to be represented in the antbrain. They are just a bunch of signals in the end, just as in a human brain.
With your model, if I get you right, you say that all concepts must first be translated into another language than the low-level language of the brain. I don't see why that has to be so.
I don't believe that concepts are defined through words, but that words are defined by concepts.
[QUOTE] posted by robinrohan: We could visualize something without language. This visualizing would certainly be mental activity.
But the linguists say that humans come equipped with language knowledge. We already know about nouns and verbs. We even know about tense. A little kid will say "I fighted." He never heard that expression, but he already knows about past tense.[/B][/QUOTE]
When the kid says "I fighted" he does so because his brain has learned a rule (a matching, which is what brains are good at). Since there are 1000's of languages with different grammar, specific grammar isn't hardcoded into the brain. Rather the brain is just good at pure logic, deducing the most logically spoken form. What brains do most of the time is trying to find patterns in chaos. If the child had said "I fought" it would be a proof of hardcoding into the brain. But don't get me wrong, ofcourse language functions are hardcoded into the brain, but the "I fighted" example says nothing about that, imho.
Lets assume the brain has NO hardcoded language-skills when the child is born. How would you prove the brain didn't just use its standard patern-recognition skills top learn languge ?
It's just that I can't believe that spoken language, is the only form to hold self-awareness. When I think about how I think... and thats hard I dont find myself to think in words... really. It is more like thinking in pictures. Its hard to say that it is definately so, but generally. When I speak about things I still think in terms of pictures, but sometimes they have names. At least all things spoken about. Like a "sofa". Should i place something infront of or behind the sofa ? It's just images im getting in my head.
More abstract concepts gets trickier... The thing is i even have a inner image for "tommorow"... Its a feeling mixed with.. i dunno really...a bright day outside...
(Another thing... did you know that if you teach a child to read but prevents it from sounding letters. He will have a reading-speed that is 2-3 times faster than his classmates. (he will take a bit longer to learn though) This is because the memory areas for "talking" are accessed if you learn the traditional way. But the fastreading kid skips accessing those areas)
However maybe you are right after all. Language must have influenced the genes a lot. And speeded up the consciuos parts of the brain, and its intelligence. Perhaps one need to define self-awareness a bit. From human viewport it would be: A complete understanding of "me" as an individual separated from the outer world. And how "I" fit into this world.
A dog maybe doesn't have all that. But I still have to believe he have some kind of experience of beeing separeted from the outer world. If he lived in a pack, he needs pretty complicated understanding of his relationship with the other animals. Like what's his position is in the pack. I just can't believe its just working from automata.
Yee im tired it's 3am here now... mind the spelling