The following is meandering and inconclusive at best. You probably want to skip it.
Some thoughts about the Language of Thought. People tend to give precedence
to language as a precursor to thought. The idea taken out to its logical
conclusion is absurd, and yet the question is always whether we can
think without a lingual (I emphaize the latin etymology here)
representation, or discuss how to disprove that thought functions solely
based on the culture and language that you grew up and learned in.
What about questions regarding the various nature of thought? We have to
be empirical about such a topic, and deemphasize individuals based solely on
their cultural backgrounds. What we are discussing here is the
commonality of the nature of human thought. Even as I write this
explanation (and it is this need for explanation that creates the need
for words as a language system, but more on that later) I know what I
wish to say, but I have to pause and let my mind translate my thoughts
Often I find that I will come up with a word for a feeling and I am not
sure that I even know the definition of that word, or have ever used it
before, but 95% of the time it is the perfect word to use. Are even my subconscious thoughts regulated by my own lingual system? Is the brain a clean slate before it is programmed with a language?
The human mind is a vast landscape of intellectual thought decorated
with potent emotions in a storm of varying perceptions. It's a wonder
that any patterns recognition occurs. But then, that's what we were
built for: pattern recognition.
And here it is, the seat of consciousness. And it is a she. "She knows that she will. And dreams, though she seldom dreams, or seldom recalls them, that she is alone in the back of a black cab, in London, the transience of late summer leaves accentuating the age of the city, the depth of its history, the simple stubborn vastness of it."
That, my friends, is William Gibson, and the book is Pattern Recognition. The main character is the consciousness of a society gone overblown with commercialism, namely our own. She gazes out over society, or maybe as society, "to curl fetal there, and briefly marvel, as a final wave over her, at the perfect and now perfectly revealed extent of her present loneliness."
As I was saying before, it is the need for explanation that causes me to
push these words across the screen. I am in no way trying to belittle
the importance of language to human evolution and our mindspace.
Language has the advantage here of giving me a much needed structured
system to build my mindscape upon. It focuses me in a way that is
impossible to do with just plain musing. What I don't want to do is
state that language is the only such system that humans have, or will,
ever have. We are creatures in a universe where evolution, that is,
change, is the only constant. We are bound to evolve towards using a
language system that has no basis in uttered phonetics or intricate
scribble. The advantage of such an evolution is not simply that it will
provide a better structured system to focus our thoughts even more, but
that it will strip away the layers of symbolism that language has to
convery in order to be useful as a medium of communication between very
different human beings.
It used to be that Apple Talk networks would crash incessantly just
because a user would hold on to their mouse button too long while
clicking on a menu. The computer could not perform two operation at once,
that is, walk and chew gum, and so could not communicate with the
network while their user sent multiple mouse-click commands to the CPU
at once.* The evolution for a computer language that allows computers to
talk to each other (not a programming language where a human talks to a
computer) would be TCP/IP, which provided for packet loss, identity of
single machines in vast networks, while also rendering a single computer
unnecessary or unable to cause the network at large harm. In short, it
was a magnificent step forward in the advancement of the noosphere.
We humans have yet to discover our equivalent this awesome medium. We are still fumbling around with
a single-button mouse using MSPaint to create a picture for another
individual. At the same time, you can make some pretty cool stuff with a modern graphics program. What can I say, I'm on the fence for a lot of abstract arguments.
I did not pull this out of my ass, but borrowed
it from Neal Stephenson
's essay, In the Beginning was the Command Line