Intelligent Systems And Their Societies Walter Fritz

Do we think with words?


You could say: "How is this about thinking with response rules; I myself think with words. When I think, I hear my voice. I hear my voice as if I were actually speaking out aloud.".

A baby can move and use its voice before it learns to speak. Speaking is a learned activity. Moving and learning requires thinking, requires sensing the environment, choosing an action, doing it and remembering.

Humans do not think with words. Words accompany thinking, they are an activity like drumming fingers, but more useful.
Thinking is unconscious. Sensations (words) are conscious. We remember only words that accompany our thoughts, not the thoughts themselves. These words can be mileposts, guides, to indicate where we were with our thoughts, and used to guide future thought. They serve, so that we can know what we were thinking a few moments ago. Furthermore words also serve to indicate to another person what we are thinking.

Experiments have been made that showed that while thinking without speaking out loud, we still make microscopic movements with our tongue and lips. What you sense are these movements or intentions of movements, the concepts of the movement, the ear is not involved.

By the way, the author sometimes accompanies his thoughts with English words, sometimes with German and sometimes with Spanish words. Sometimes even without words, with pictures and when he wants to express his thought he has to hunt for the appropriate word.

We certainly don't think in words. For if we did, we would have to learn everything we know, our lifelong experience, anew when learning another language! The author reads a lot in English, Spanish and German: books, articles, e-mails. Often, when he tries to think of where he got a specific information from, he discovers that he doesn't even know in which language he read it. But he remembers the information (for instance if you play back the whale sounds very fast, they sound like those of a canary).


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Last Edited 6 Mar. 06 / Walter Fritz
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