Principia Discordia

Principia Discordia => Think for Yourself, Schmuck! => Topic started by: Légu on July 25, 2020, 01:14:42 pm

Title: Thought Sans Language
Post by: Légu on July 25, 2020, 01:14:42 pm
Lurker here, finally brave enough to post something of my own. This forum is great!

To preface, I'm mostly talking about this from my point of view. For me, thought manifests itself as a 'voice' inside my head, or at the very least it manifests as language, made up of sentences. Of course, there can be other types of thinking, such as visually or perhaps with emotion. This makes me wonder - what are the implications of differences in thought production? Can one type be better, more efficient?

With some practice, I'm able to completely bypass language when thinking and am able to observe pure logic. I'll call this type of thinking 'unsymbolic thought', as opposed to internal dialogue, from an interesting BBC article on the subject[1]. I'll be mostly ignoring the other types of thought, only because I use them far less often.

I've discovered that without the need for forming sentences and articulating them, thoughts form much quicker. Whereas before the act of thinking was like a stream, without language it becomes more like waves of ideas with pauses between each thought. I do not yet know if this pause can eradicated with more practice. If it can, this could mean thinking can be incredibly quick. For now, unsymbolic thinking is more akin to meditation. Without the extra attention being paid to producing sentences, my focus goes elsewhere - usually my breath.

Another possible implication I considered was whether unsymbolic thought is possibly less biased than dialogue. I use bias fairly loosely, meaning the filters we apply to our thoughts and our judgement of them. It occurs to me that the medium of thought might dictate the logic of thought itself. That is, language is inherently rhetoric. By definition, it is intended to transfer ideas, not necessarily to understand or produce them. By continuously converting thought into language, I found that I'm persuading myself or an imaginary opponent. If this is so, then the ideas no longer are judged (internally) by how correct or logical they are, but rather by how persuasive they are. Hence the bias.

This of course may not be true, which brings up the question of where thought originates. Is thought inherently biased from the moment it is created or do we apply our filters after the ideas are produced? If the latter is correct, then we could create ideas contrary to what we believe in, but discard them (perhaps without even thinking) in processing the thought. Through some observation, I came to the conclusion that thought is produced subconsciously and that we interpret and process what comes up. Interestingly, it seems to me that this super-consciousness is almost like a separate entity that has little communication with the self. Of course, I cannot distinguish whether it's completely separate or merely a deeper part of my own self.

Another point may be when thought is developed. Are humans born with the ability for unsymbolic / logical thought? Does language develop in conjunction to thought, or after it? Do children have some sort of thought before being able to speak, or do they operate solely on instinct? This is why I hesitated to use the word 'sub-concsiousness' to describe the origin of thought, because instinct or biological programming can emulate thoughtful behaviour without needing the ability to think. We generally know, for example, insects don't have thoughts and any observed intelligent behaviour is merely a result of instinct and evolution - if this is the case, then at what point does 'instinct' and 'sub-consciousness' become 'thought' and 'super-consciousness'? These are much more complex questions.

Thoughts?

n.b., please forgive me if sub-conscious is not the correct word to describe unthoughtful instinctual behaviour. It was the only word I could think of. Or for that matter please excuse any other misused terms.

1) https://www.bbc.com/future/article/20190819-what-your-inner-voice-says-about-you
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: chaotic neutral observer on July 25, 2020, 03:09:47 pm
You have some interesting ideas here.

To preface, I'm mostly talking about this from my point of view. For me, thought manifests itself as a 'voice' inside my head, or at the very least it manifests as language, made up of sentences.
The thoughts which I am directly aware of, I typically perceive as an inner voice.

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With some practice, I'm able to completely bypass language when thinking and am able to observe pure logic. I'll call this type of thinking 'unsymbolic thought',
"Pure logic" and "unsymbolic thought" seem to me to be contradictory.  Logic is the manipulation of abstract symbols, using some defined set of rules.  A language defines a particular set of symbols.  Thought need not be performed with a symbol set defined by a spoken language, but I cannot conceive of a thinking process that is not based on the manipulation of symbols at some level (be it auditory, visual, temporal, or kinetic).  Although the existence of nonsymbolic thought can be posited, it could never be demonstrated or proven.  In order to communicate it to another person, you'd need to convert it to symbols.

(In my brain-space, language isn't necessarily something that can be spoken.  It could be any set of symbols combined with a grammar; but, in this context, I'll assume you mean a human spoken/written language).

Okay, enough nitpicking on terminology.

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I've discovered that without the need for forming sentences and articulating them, thoughts form much quicker. Whereas before the act of thinking was like a stream, without language it becomes more like waves of ideas with pauses between each thought.
I do not think I can do this; or, if I can, I am not directly aware of it.  However, sometimes I will concentrate on a difficult problem for hours on end, finally give up at the end of the day, and have an idea pop suddenly into my head while traversing the parking lot.  I am not conscious of all my mental processes; I can't be.

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Through some observation, I came to the conclusion that thought is produced subconsciously and that we interpret and process what comes up. Interestingly, it seems to me that this super-consciousness is almost like a separate entity that has little communication with the self. Of course, I cannot distinguish whether it's completely separate or merely a deeper part of my own self.
What you call the "super-consciousness", I call "the one that watches".  It feels like it's a separate entity, observing and analyzing what the rest of me is doing, but it's just another function being performed by my brain-meat.

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Does language develop in conjunction to thought, or after it? Do children have some sort of thought before being able to speak, or do they operate solely on instinct?
Babies develop object persistence before they develop the ability to speak.  That is, they can hold the concept of an object in their head, before they know the appropriate noises to identify it.  Being able to store a concept (especially, being able to store it at a level where a third-party can detect that you have done so) would qualify as a rudimentary type of thought.

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We generally know, for example, insects don't have thoughts and any observed intelligent behaviour is merely a result of instinct and evolution
I don't know that, though.  Bees are known to communicate the location of pollen-rich environments to other bees.  This behaviour is genetically programmed, to be sure, but the bee is identifying an object (a field of flowers), deciding it has value, remembering its location, and conveying the location to other bees.  Does this type of communication not imply thought of some sort?

Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: Légu on July 25, 2020, 03:57:03 pm
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However, sometimes I will concentrate on a difficult problem for hours on end, finally give up at the end of the day, and have an idea pop suddenly into my head while traversing the parking lot.

This is an excellent example of thoughts forming in the subconscious. If thinking was a conscious effort requiring constant attention, then this wouldn't be easily explained.

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This behaviour is genetically programmed, to be sure, but the bee is identifying an object (a field of flowers), deciding it has value, remembering its location, and conveying the location to other bees. Does this type of communication not imply thought of some sort?

This question arises from a lack of a definition for thought, which is my fault. Ants can do the same sort of thing with food - using hormones to create trails for other ants. I'm not an entomologist, nor a biologist, but I think this behaviour is too mechanical to be considered thought. Thought is creative, whereas this is just programming. In effect, the decision making process here would be akin to putting a gold coin on a scale to tip the balance - just involving a lot more complex systems.

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"Pure logic" and "unsymbolic thought" seem to me to be contradictory.  Logic is the manipulation of abstract symbols, using some defined set of rules.  A language defines a particular set of symbols.  Thought need not be performed with a symbol set defined by a spoken language, but I cannot conceive of a thinking process that is not based on the manipulation of symbols at some level (be it auditory, visual, temporal, or kinetic).  Although the existence of nonsymbolic thought can be posited, it could never be demonstrated or proven.  In order to communicate it to another person, you'd need to convert it to symbols.

I think this would make more sense if you were to experience it yourself. It is impossible to explain as thought is a very subjective and personal experience, so 'pure logic' and 'unsymbolic thought' may seem contradictory when said out loud, but are good descriptions when you experience it. I intended this post to also be a practical exercise, but noticed I did not include any steps to actually do it, so I suggest trying for 10 minutes or so, to see if it's possible:

I noted that this was very much like meditation, so begin by meditating (concentrate on the breath). However, instead of dismissing thoughts as you would in normal meditation, try to notice the idea arising first and then the sentences being formed. Language is not necessary for thought, so there will always be a moment between creating an idea and describing it. After you've mastered that, try to 'catch' the thought before you can form it into sentences. If you can't stop a sentence from forming, discard the thought and wait for the next one to arise. Eventually you'll be left with just the idea and no language - logical and unsymbolic.

I do agree that it feels unnatural and difficult to conceive, especially if this is your primary mode of thought since first learning a language. But nonetheless I think it's a good idea to explore it, especially if it can provide a benefit to thinking (which is important, given we do it a lot).
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: minuspace on July 25, 2020, 08:31:01 pm
I suppose the language 'binds' that unsymbolic thought with an armature of interlocking signs. These are slowly woven into an intentional POV narrative, covering its host as both source and protagonist of said story. By the time I can construct that symbolic armature, I'm already fitted as its rightful owner.


[edit: I think it takes about 80ms for that conversion to happen]
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: Cramulus on July 26, 2020, 03:18:09 pm
Hi Légu, welcome to the forum and thank you for the very interesting post!

I like the types of thought experiments you're doing. We've arrived at similar confusions about a few things.

Right now I'm in a school / meditation group where we practice self observation in a variety of ways... we see this as "collecting material" which is required for a higher form of processing. There are some concepts which, early in my practice, I was asked to consider. My self-observation exercises tended to confirm these -- which I take with a grain of salt ("what the thinker thinks, the prover proves" -Robert Anton Wilson, "The Law of 5s is never wrong" -Mal&Omar), but perhaps sharing my own experiences may be useful.

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This makes me wonder - what are the implications of differences in thought production? Can one type be better, more efficient?

I think the different kinds of processing have different specialties & different blind spots.

In a horse & carriage, which is most important: the wheels, the horse, or the driver?


none of them, really


The fastest horse in the world is useless, actually problematic, if the other factors are not in line.


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I've discovered that without the need for forming sentences and articulating them, thoughts form much quicker. Whereas before the act of thinking was like a stream, without language it becomes more like waves of ideas with pauses between each thought. I do not yet know if this pause can eradicated with more practice. If it can, this could mean thinking can be incredibly quick. For now, unsymbolic thinking is more akin to meditation. Without the extra attention being paid to producing sentences, my focus goes elsewhere - usually my breath.


similar observations here -- language is SLOW, other types of thoughts are much quicker.

Do you feel like you have control over this stream?

What I call meditation is not DOING this kind of thinking, but OBSERVING it, recognizing that it's always happening, it's just coming from me on autopilot. Usually these experiences underpin the verbal/linguistic thoughts I have.

Like for example, somebody says "do you want to go to the beach?", or "Do you think schools will reopen?"

there is a little cascade of mental activity that preceeds my answer. I am not usually aware of this, I'm generally just conscious of my verbal response, and a sort of vague feeling which informs it. If I'm asked to elaborate, I will be concocting explanations of this process -- which might not really capture it, sometimes they are arbitrary.
 

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Another possible implication I considered was whether unsymbolic thought is possibly less biased than dialogue. I use bias fairly loosely, meaning the filters we apply to our thoughts and our judgement of them. It occurs to me that the medium of thought might dictate the logic of thought itself. That is, language is inherently rhetoric. By definition, it is intended to transfer ideas, not necessarily to understand or produce them. By continuously converting thought into language, I found that I'm persuading myself or an imaginary opponent. If this is so, then the ideas no longer are judged (internally) by how correct or logical they are, but rather by how persuasive they are. Hence the bias.


I think that language is made of associations. Therefore, linguistic-logic is biased by them.

Language is necessary, I think, for certain kinds of complex thought. How does a microprocessor work? I can't conceive of a way to understand this in a non-verbal way. Once you have sufficient verbal-mastery, you can develop abstractions, which may operate differently than the thoughts -- for example, there are operations I do at work which are very complicated, but I can do without really thinking about - partly because of familiarity. It's interesting, sometimes I'll notice that I'm doing something very complex on autopilot, and my linguistic-brain isn't really connected to it... if you were to ask me what I was doing at that moment, it would take me a second to index it before I could respond verbally.

But I couldn't have arrived at that level of abstraction without the verbal understanding of the system.


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Through some observation, I came to the conclusion that thought is produced subconsciously and that we interpret and process what comes up. Interestingly, it seems to me that this super-consciousness is almost like a separate entity that has little communication with the self. Of course, I cannot distinguish whether it's completely separate or merely a deeper part of my own self.

Can you talk a little bit more about the super-consciousness?



and finally, from the beginning of your post....
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I'll be mostly ignoring the other types of thought, only because I use them far less often.

I will share this:
the people who are teaching me these self-observation techniques have warned against putting that mind on a throne.

The verbal-logical [prefrontal cortex] mind is strong, for many of us it's also very loud.

In some ways, this is not a strength, but a weakness.




I view the self as having three "brains", three different types of processing

The Intellectual Brain
The Emotional Brain
The Moving Brain      (this incorporates both physical sensations in the body such as hunger or tiredness as well as spacial logic-- ie how do I get from A to B)

These three processors work independently. SOMETIMES, they share data. OFTEN, they do not.

My verbal-logical-brain is often badly disconnected from my emotional processing.

Frequently, I have an emotion about something, I'm not even really aware of it, but my linguistic-brain becomes slave to that emotion, concoction rationales and explanations which serve it.

Or sometimes I'm just HUNGRY, and that creates a kind of stress in my nervous system that affects my emotions and logic. But I don't know that I'm hungry, because that intellect-brain is not getting data from the body-brain, but my intellect-brain is driving.

I think that being a better thinker is NOT about honing the intellect to its finest, most precise edge, and using it all the time.
I think it's about connecting these systems that we generally exclude.





sorry for the run-on post! you got me thinking!
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: Légu on July 27, 2020, 03:59:51 am
I'll begin with the super-conscious, because I admit I neglected to explain it well beforehand and it might clear up some of the other issues. I took the term from mysticism. I think the mind is split into 3 parts, the lesser-consciousness, the self (or observer), and the super-consciousness. The lesser- and super-consciousness are both subconscious, we have no awareness of how they operate but we can see the results of their operations. The lesser-consciousness is essentially our primal drive, based on instinct and programming. All living beings have this, to varying degrees of complexity. The super-consciousness is essentially everything humans have that animals don't: creativity, critical thinking, and morality. The self is also important, because it allows us to reflect on what the two consciousnesses produce and pick between them.

EDIT: I used sub-conscious to describe both lesser-conscious and everything we are unaware of in my original post and the replies. You have to know which is which based on context. Sorry!

This, I think, might provide an explanation for your other questions.

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Do you feel like you have control over this stream?

As you said, it's more about observing thought. The act of thinking is simply setting the super-consciousness on a certain course and letting it do its thing. I think it's easy to mistake thinking to be an active process that we ourselves conduct, because the act of translating thought into language is conducted entirely in the self. This means that we mistake the translation of thought for the production of thought. I do think there is some control, but it's more like setting up the right conditions to receive the right ideas, rather than directing it myself. If we couldn't have some degree of control, then thought would be useless. For example, by reading your reply, my mind is primed to produce a response and ideas relating to this subject. If I meditate, my mind isn't set on a direct path and chooses whatever is most convenient; either the events of the day, or some interesting thought I had at an earlier point.

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Language is necessary, I think, for certain kinds of complex thought. How does a microprocessor work? I can't conceive of a way to understand this in a non-verbal way. Once you have sufficient verbal-mastery, you can develop abstractions, which may operate differently than the thoughts -- for example, there are operations I do at work which are very complicated, but I can do without really thinking about - partly because of familiarity. It's interesting, sometimes I'll notice that I'm doing something very complex on autopilot, and my linguistic-brain isn't really connected to it... if you were to ask me what I was doing at that moment, it would take me a second to index it before I could respond verbally.

This is where I'll have to disagree. Thought is produced with no interference and without language. Once you understand a subject yourself, you are able to think about it without the need for language. When you say you can't think of a way to understand something without language, perhaps you mean that you can't think of a way to learn about something complex without language - which is true. Language is absolutely necessary for learning complex or abstract ideas, and maybe for organizing your thoughts after learning, but I don't think it's necessary at all once you have all the parts and can synthesize.

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The Intellectual Brain
The Emotional Brain
The Moving Brain

This is remarkably similar to my ("my") idea of consciousness. The lesser-consciousness is the emotional and moving brain and the super-consciousness is the intellectual brain, as you describe them. And yes, I agree that they're often not in communication except through the self / observer. I liked Bluefluke's description of the system[1]:

"While you (the selfconscious) may view the other two as mere sub processors, the truth is that they are separate individual beings with their own unique forms of sentiency and language, quietly pulling your strings in the background. Thus consciousness is less like a dictatorship in which you are supreme leader and more like a two-party democracy wherein you are the only voter"

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In a horse & carriage, which is most important: the wheels, the horse, or the driver?
...
the people who are teaching me these self-observation techniques have warned against putting that mind on a throne

Good analogy. I have very little experience observing visual, auditory, or the other forms of thought, so I won't comment here. I do not know if they are separate interpretations of the base unsymbolic thoughts produced by the super-consciousness or if they are base thoughts themselves, produced from who knows where. Maybe observing them will reveal something interesting, so I will try that and report back to this thread if I discover anything enlightening.

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sorry for the run-on post! you got me thinking!

Best compliment I can receive!



1) https://www.deviantart.com/bluefluke/art/The-Psychonaut-Field-Manual-FOURTH-PDF-EDITION-530005584
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: chaotic neutral observer on July 27, 2020, 05:09:36 am
Keeping in mind that I am naturally a pedantic, argumentative nit-picker, I'm still having problems with the term "unsymbolic thought".

If I'm thinking consciously about a cat, then presumably at some level my brain is synthesizing sentences which include the English word-symbol "cat".

If I'm thinking subconsciously about a cat, then my brain is (probably) not thinking "cat", but it must still, at some level, be referencing or manipulating the abstract concept cat, however it is represented (perhaps I have a blob of neurons for cat, or maybe it's just a particular pattern of electrochemical activity).  Even if it isn't in a form that makes sense outside my head, I still treat cat as a symbol.  The concept in my brain clearly isn't an actual cat, so what is its representation, if not a symbol of sorts?

Now, the word-symbol "cat" and the brain's internal symbol for cat are clearly not the same thing (if they were, no-one would ever have difficulty remembering a word).  I consider it plausible that thinking without rendering everything in a native spoken language may be faster, but there are still symbols involved.

The super-consciousness is essentially everything humans have that animals don't: creativity, critical thinking, and morality.
Humans are animals.  Further, some non-human animals are known to possess creativity and morality.  I'm not sure about whether non-humans possess the capacity for critical thinking, but my critical thinking functions (if any) appear to be entirely conscious.  I am not clear that this "super-consciousness" as you define it above is a useful concept.

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Once you understand a subject yourself, you are able to think about it without the need for language.
I do not see how someone could think about a language without using that language, so there is at least one exception to that claim.
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: Légu on July 27, 2020, 05:51:55 am
What you said is fair, but then it comes down to semantic differences. I say unsymbolic because I don't think what the super-conscious creates is symbolic until interpreted as such. Look at it from a zen / post-modernist perspective: a tree is not its symbol and is not the idea of a tree, and our patterns of electrochemical activity are not symbols either. It is only when it is observed by a third party (the self, the observer) do they become symbolic.

If you wish, you can consider 'unsymbolic' to mean devoid of language symbols, rather than all symbols. The arguments and questions don't change either way.

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I'm not sure about whether non-humans possess the capacity for critical thinking, but my critical thinking functions (if any) appear to be entirely conscious.

From this it is clear you have not practiced this form of thought yet. Please see my reply to Cramulus quoted below. How can you meaningfully participate in discussing this phenomenon when you have not experienced it yourself? This is a very practical exercise, it necessitates observation and inner reflection rather than logic and thinking.

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I think it's easy to mistake thinking to be an active process that we ourselves conduct, because the act of translating thought into language is conducted entirely in the self. This means that we mistake the translation of thought for the production of thought.
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: altered on July 27, 2020, 07:35:33 am
Requesting that the OP is rewritten in the style of a technical document.

1: The OP is, to judge by the author’s replies to other users engaging, apparently filled with miscommunication and requires a rewrite anyway.
2: The post as it stands is a mess, and seems to be written for the author and not to be read by anyone else.
3: There is a stink of “I am used to being the smartest person in the room, so everyone else doesn’t get it” to the current proceedings.
4: A clear, unambiguous, terse rewrite of the OP:
— presents the ideas in an accessible way,
— explains idiosyncratic shorthand for the audience,
— provides a clear and well-understood structure,
— removes the stench of arrogance.

Please consider rewriting the OP in the style of a technical document.
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: Cramulus on July 27, 2020, 01:46:11 pm
 I am really not getting an arrogant "I am smartest human" vibe here..  :?   

maybe ease up on those pistols a little, friend
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: chaotic neutral observer on July 27, 2020, 03:20:11 pm
What you said is fair, but then it comes down to semantic differences. I say unsymbolic because I don't think what the super-conscious creates is symbolic until interpreted as such.
You haven't addressed my comment that your definition of "super-consciousness" is insufficient (not to mention, your misplaced statements regarding human exceptionalism).  It is difficult to communicate without a common understanding of terms.

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Look at it from a zen / post-modernist perspective: a tree is not its symbol and is not the idea of a tree,
I said as much in my "cat" vs cat example.  "The concept in my brain clearly isn't an actual cat."  This does not require any invocation of zen or post-modernism.

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and our patterns of electrochemical activity are not symbols either.
What are they, then?  When I use the term "symbol" I mean "a representation of a thing (or concept) which is not itself that thing."  It doesn't have to be a spoken language symbol.

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It is only when it is observed by a third party (the self, the observer) do they become symbolic.
Why should a third-party passively observing something change what it is?  When my conscious brain translates the idea cat into the word "cat", it's not as if this adds any information.

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If you wish, you can consider 'unsymbolic' to mean devoid of language symbols, rather than all symbols. The arguments and questions don't change either way.
You need to pick a better term.  "Non-linguistic", perhaps.  Using "unsymbolic" to mean "actually symbolic, but not including certain types of symbols" is absurd.

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From this it is clear you have not practiced this form of thought yet.
I spent 30 seconds on it, and determined it was not likely to be a useful exercise.  I'm sure if I spent enough time on it, I'm sure I would believe I had discovered something, but what would I do with my discovery?  What have you done with your discovery?

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I'm not sure about whether non-humans possess the capacity for critical thinking, but my critical thinking functions (if any) appear to be entirely conscious.

From this it is clear you have not practiced this form of thought yet. [...] This is a very practical exercise, it necessitates observation and inner reflection rather than logic and thinking.
Read your own words.  How is it possible to practice a form of thought that does not involve thinking?  And in the OP, you said:

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I'm able to completely bypass language when thinking and am able to observe pure logic.
How can you observe logic if logic is not involved in the process?

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Please see my reply to Cramulus quoted below. How can you meaningfully participate in discussing this phenomenon when you have not experienced it yourself?
It is entirely reasonable to criticize someone's methodology--and the presentation of their thesis--without repeating their experiment.

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I think it's easy to mistake thinking to be an active process that we ourselves conduct, because the act of translating thought into language is conducted entirely in the self. This means that we mistake the translation of thought for the production of thought.
Your experience does not apply generally; I do not mistake the translation of thought into English for thinking itself.

When I'm working through a problem, it is very much an active process, and translating ideas into language is only part of it.  Sometimes I'm thinking graphically and sketching diagrams, sometimes I'm translating temporal relationships into spatial ones, and back again, and sometimes I'm just pacing around, waiting for the background processes in my head to sort through the maze of connections.
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: chaotic neutral observer on July 27, 2020, 03:25:35 pm
I am really not getting an arrogant "I am smartest human" vibe here..  :?   
Sorry, but I too detect the scent of blood.  His thinking patterns appear rigid, without being rigorous.
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: altered on July 27, 2020, 03:50:21 pm
I am really not getting an arrogant "I am smartest human" vibe here..  :?   

maybe ease up on those pistols a little, friend

It’s a pretty strong feeling for me.

But I’m not waving pistols. Reminds me a bit too much of me when I was young and thought I was going to be famous for my intelligence because I had never heard anyone talk about the things I was thinking of, and the few people I interacted with were simply not on my level.

The technical document rewrite is still needed either way.
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: Légu on July 27, 2020, 04:18:30 pm
I do not intend to sound arrogant. We seem to have very different ideas on what the point of this (or any other) forum post is. If I had a fully organized theory with everything figured out, I would have written an article or a book. If you do not think this is a useful exercise or a worthwhile investigation, click away. Dismissing my descriptions of what I experienced while admitting that you are unable to or refuse to try the experiment is not fair. I'd prefer if people submitted their own theories and chime in with their own experiences - like Cramulus has done - instead of criticizing the style in which I write or the theories I make based on my own observations.

I wrote this post specifically with unsymbolic thought (or non-linguistic thought) as the subject, not just thought production. It is not unreasonable to expect people to have at least some experience with the subject before commenting.
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: altered on July 27, 2020, 04:21:13 pm
I’m criticizing your writing style because it prevents me from understanding if you have an idea worth my time or if you’ve just stumbled into old ideas without realizing it. Clearly I’m not the only one having this problem. A rewrite would let us judge your ideas for their worth rather than for our ability to understand what you meant to say.
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: altered on July 27, 2020, 04:34:24 pm
To give a clear example: you said most of CNO’s issue is semantic differences. But semantics are vital to communicating ideas on this level. If your definitions differ somewhat, the idea often breaks down into nonsense. Attempting to parse it meaningfully will often end with something that is nothing like the idea that is intended to be proposed.

Only two things can fix this: establishing definitions and writing with clarity, or tons of tedious argumentation.
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: The Wizard Joseph on July 27, 2020, 04:58:08 pm
To give a clear example: you said most of CNO’s issue is semantic differences. But semantics are vital to communicating ideas on this level. If your definitions differ somewhat, the idea often breaks down into nonsense. Attempting to parse it meaningfully will often end with something that is nothing like the idea that is intended to be proposed.

Only two things can fix this: establishing definitions and writing with clarity, or tons of tedious argumentation.

Definition" is have to "define plz?
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: Cramulus on July 27, 2020, 04:59:50 pm
I understood & enjoyed the OP. I take issue with sniping people on their first post and throwing a bunch of personal judgments at them because they haven't mastered whatever tone or style you think is required here. Arrogance is demanding that a poster re-write their entire topic for you, so that you can make up your mind about whether or not you're interested.

Discussing personal internal experiences is challenging--there is no universal dictionary for these things. No series of words will precisely communicate things that happen inside of you, just on the edge of conscious awareness. 

I'm sorry if I'm coming off sharp, but this is a continuation of a pattern that seriously annoys me. Like instead of discussing the topic, we're gonna spend the next dozen posts arguing about what language they used and whether or not they're an asshole. It's exhausting.
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: altered on July 27, 2020, 05:04:13 pm
He doesn’t strike me as an asshole.

He strikes me as unfamiliar with this sort of place, where he’s among, at the least, intellectual equals.

And to be clear, the OP is completely incoherent to me. Depending on how I read it, it comes across as either a sort of “concept salad” or “aha! I have rediscovered Freudian psychology!”

You don’t seem to see that. You can parse it, apparently. I cannot.

Judging by how he reacted to CNO, I feel the right move is ask for a rewrite, because nitpicking my way to his meaning is going to take a long time and be really annoying to everyone.
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: chaotic neutral observer on July 27, 2020, 05:06:54 pm
I do not intend to sound arrogant. We seem to have very different ideas on what the point of this (or any other) forum post is.
When someone posts in the "Think for Yourself, Schmuck!" thread, I assume they either want their idea to be subjected to criticism and analysis, so they can refine it and make it stronger, or they want everyone to admire how smart they are.

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If I had a fully organized theory with everything figured out, I would have written an article or a book.
Do you not want to further develop your ideas?  That's not going to happen if everyone sits around and agrees with you.  Science is destruction.

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If you do not think this is a useful exercise or a worthwhile investigation, click away.
"Please go away", huh?

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Dismissing my descriptions of what I experienced while admitting that you are unable to or refuse to try the experiment is not fair.
You have made false statements, and have not addressed several of the questions I have presented to you.  Why should I take you seriously?

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I'd prefer if people submitted their own theories and chime in with their own experiences - like Cramulus has done - instead of criticizing the style in which I write or the theories I make based on my own observations.
I have presented my own experiences.  Twice, now.

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I wrote this post specifically with unsymbolic thought (or non-linguistic thought) as the subject, not just thought production.
This is the sort of muddled communication that's at issue.  What is this distinction between "thought" and "thought production"?

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It is not unreasonable to expect people to have at least some experience with the subject before commenting.
I've been watching myself think since I was eight, and some of my thinking methods are non-linguistic (as I have said).
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: altered on July 27, 2020, 05:08:05 pm
Even CNO seems to have gotten a better grasp on the OP than me, actually. So I might bow out.
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: Légu on July 27, 2020, 05:13:23 pm
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A rewrite would let us judge your ideas for their worth rather than for our ability to understand what you meant to say.

Very well, I'll do my best to re-write this in a cohesive manner and differentiate my observations from my theories. Here goes:



Observations

These are my own experiences. I chose the word unsymbolic thought based on the observations.



Theories

I'll organize these by topic and ignore everything unrelated directly to the subject of unsymbolic thought.

Origin of thought:

Language as rhetoric:
Question: Is unsymbolic thought less subject to filters or bias than thought as language?



Other

Some additional questions and stuff on other types of thought.

Lesser-conscious:

Questions:

How to achieve unsymbolic thought:
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: Doktor Howl on July 27, 2020, 05:16:54 pm

The thoughts which I am directly aware of, I typically perceive as an inner voice.


With me, it's all the other thoughts, too. They holler back and forth and smash things and yell "DO YOU WANT A PIECE OF ME?"  It's like having Brooklyn in my skull, only with lower housing costs.

For example, last night while I was laying in bed drifting off to sleep and some useless bastard runs up to the front of my brain with a cringe memory from my high school years.  One of THOSE cringe memories, where you flinch so hard your colon bounces off of the back of your teeth.  I heard THAT one in an inner voice, and I wasn't directly aware of it until I was staring at the ceiling at 11 PM, wondering if I was gonna get any sleep at all.
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: Bwana Honolulu on July 27, 2020, 05:30:55 pm
I noted that this was very much like meditation, so begin by meditating (concentrate on the breath). However, instead of dismissing thoughts as you would in normal meditation, try to notice the idea arising first and then the sentences being formed. Language is not necessary for thought, so there will always be a moment between creating an idea and describing it. After you've mastered that, try to 'catch' the thought before you can form it into sentences. If you can't stop a sentence from forming, discard the thought and wait for the next one to arise. Eventually you'll be left with just the idea and no language - logical and unsymbolic.
Reminds me of what happens when you start reading faster than your "inner voice" can speak - not skipping over the text, but really quickly reading every single word, and you only percieve the meaning, but don't "read it out" inside your mind anymore. This process is a prerequisite for high-speed reading, and it was pretty fun to experiment with apps that helped you train that. I can't find most of those I used to try out anymore though, and the ones I can still find aren't free anymore. :roll
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: chaotic neutral observer on July 27, 2020, 05:47:25 pm
That is an improvement.  I do not currently have time to give this the attention it deserves, but I have a couple notes:

Question: Is unsymbolic thought less subject to filters or bias than thought as language?
Unsymbolic Basic-thought can potentially work with finer degrees than speech-thought.  It is possible to recognize subtly different shades of blue, but not have specific words for them.  Once the interpretation process picks a word, you have lost something.
Is it less biased?  Maybe, but I'm not sure how one would measure this.  If translating base-thought to language adds bias, then wouldn't you need to coin new words to remove that bias?

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What is the operation of visual thinking? Is it a 'base' thought like unsymbollic thought, or is it the interpretation of base thought?
I would say "visual thinking", like speech-thinking, is an interpretation of basic thought.  I suppose that with "speech-thinking", you're engaging your auditory/speech-centers in some sense, and with "visual thinking", you're engaging your vision centers.  Both are translations of the underlying process.

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What other types of thought are there? Is the list non-exhaustive?
I can conceptually process movement and physical sensation without actually moving (or feeling) something.  I can imagine moving my arm without moving it.  A lot of movement is connected at the base-thought level, from reflexively drawing back from pain, to higher-complexity processes like typing (once you're trained in it).

Oddly, I can't seem to manage "olfactory thought".  I simply cannot imagine smells.
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: altered on July 27, 2020, 06:30:04 pm
That’s a huge improvement. I’m going to give it a read after I eat something for sure.


ETA: At a quick skim, I do take issue with the hierarchy of consciousness-fragments you outline. Linking emotion to action and divorcing it from thought feels incorrect, rather I’d say that if there is an “Office of Thought Production,” it’s either also in charge of emotion, or it’s right next door to the Emotion Department.

Action feels more like the observer’s place: it can recognize what’s going on but it cannot produce thought or emotion itself. It has conscious control of the body (exercise: try to think deep thoughts and be aware of them while intentionally moving), it seems reasonable to say it would have unconscious control of the body as well.

I have no real issue with the rest of what you outlined (again, at a quick skim, I reserve the right to change my mind on further reading), it squares with my experience. For example, if I think in language at all, I imagine text, because my thought processes are highly visual.
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: minuspace on July 30, 2020, 01:36:14 am
I just can’t help myself


ETA: the video is called “Making Sense of Sensemaking” and it’s about coherence, tribal conversation, etc.
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: rong on July 30, 2020, 05:12:33 am
does anyone think in music?  Like sometimes the best answer to how I'm feeling is a rhythm and a melody.

I don't really understand how people can say they think in language - I guess I do sometimes, but only if I'm thinking about how I would explain what I'm thinking about to someone else - or if I want to give my "thinker" something to think about - I will state my assumptions and conclusions to myself to solidify them in my thoughts before going back to pondering in a more abstract way.

thinking to me feels more like when you're reading a book but you are no longer aware of the words - just what they are building in your mind.  or maybe dreaming - daydreaming,  I guess.

the goal of the thinking tends to drive the nature of it, too, I think (haha).  Is it a math problem?  Are you building something?  Do you need to plan a strategy?  What day is it?

or, if you have ever been driving for a long time, and suddenly realize that you are driving - just before that happened was usually some good thinking.

For me, once the thoughts are formed, then they are distilled into language.  I've developed a love for language in this regard because it's fun (probably get a little dopamine hit, i dunno) when you can find the perfect word that exactly describes what you are trying to communicate.  the irony being that no words can *exactly* describe your thoughts (or can they? I suppose if you start with words and work up they can . . .)

i prefer to communicate in metaphors.  I've only sort of recently realized I do it - but I think it reinforces the notion that what I'm saying isn't exactly what I mean and that whoever I'm talking to will need to interpret it and, after interpreting, they will better understand my thought at the more abstract level I was thinking at.  then again, maybe it's just me being a lazy communicator. . .

Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: altered on July 30, 2020, 05:17:18 am
Just as I’m starting to better appreciate the topic and getting into the concepts Legu was presenting, the resident dipshits turn up. All we need is PDS taking a fat dump now. Fucking hell.

I’m still digesting the OP btw, Legu. There’s more going on now that I understand the foundation of the concepts, and I owe you a lengthy reply soon.
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: altered on July 30, 2020, 05:26:59 am
Abruptly, immediately after I post the last thing...

Food for thought, especially for Cramulus:

Cram’s 18th century mystic-tinged view of consciousness seems at odds with thought as outlined here, and I find that super interesting. I have to put it into a good framework, but the two seem both antagonistic and complementary.

Cram’s consciousness is the self-awareness of thought through logical interrogation of thought (I’ll explain this if Cram disagrees, I’m having bad words week and I swear this isn’t a misunderstanding), where Legu is more interested in a property I can’t put a word to that is kind of like a “meta-qualia”, the qualia of thought, the personal and subjective attributes of that thought. Kind of like, not quite the same. Bad words week.

They’re related but distinct, and they seem to be impossible to do at the same time. Arguably Cram’s consciousness is externally directed, awareness of the concrete parts and the interconnection between self and environment, where Legu’s thought concepts are extremely introverted.

This is a mess, but it’s early and I have to arrange it into a better form still. It just struck me as an interesting compare/contrast exercise due to the relationship of thought and consciousness, along with Legu’s ideas of a hierarchical consciousness.
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: rong on July 30, 2020, 05:33:15 am
Just as I’m starting to better appreciate the topic and getting into the concepts Legu was presenting, the resident dipshits turn up. All we need is PDS taking a fat dump now. Fucking hell.

I’m still digesting the OP btw, Legu. There’s more going on now that I understand the foundation of the concepts, and I owe you a lengthy reply soon.
I think this may be directed at me, therefore I am
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: Légu on July 30, 2020, 07:50:48 am
I'm glad the re-write helped, thanks for the suggestion, altered.

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Reminds me of what happens when you start reading faster than your "inner voice" can speak - not skipping over the text, but really quickly reading every single word, and you only percieve the meaning, but don't "read it out" inside your mind anymore. This process is a prerequisite for high-speed reading, and it was pretty fun to experiment with apps that helped you train that.

Another good example. You begin to understand the text without the need to 'echo' the language. Same as unsymbolic thought.

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Basic-thought can potentially work with finer degrees than speech-thought.  It is possible to recognize subtly different shades of blue, but not have specific words for them.  Once the interpretation process picks a word, you have lost something.

Ooh, that's a very good point. That's at least one possible tangible benefit of unsymbolic / base thought.

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If translating base-thought to language adds bias, then wouldn't you need to coin new words to remove that bias?

Going from the 'origin of thought' theory: since translating thought into language is conducted in the self, the self judges and modifies the thoughts produced by the super-conscious. Sort of like a policeman inside all our heads. I think the super-conscious can also be programmed to an extent, so it's not as simple as getting rid of ego, though it certainly helps. As for coining new words, I don't think it's necessary. If I'm right in saying that language is only necessary for learning or communicating thought, then you wouldn't need new words by itself to get rid of bias - instead, you would need new ideas (with or without new language) or new experiences.

Here's a fairly simple example: someone who's racist would suppress thought that contradicts their beliefs though their self / observer. When the process of turning thought into language is automatic, the self cannot observe the thought for what it is - it is too busy translating the thought. It thus ignores the thought. In this case, you wouldn't need to logically falsify their race theory or introduce liberal ideas (and also its respective words) to get rid of the bias. In this case, there are 3 solutions I think:

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I would say "visual thinking", like speech-thinking, is an interpretation of basic thought
...
Oddly, I can't seem to manage "olfactory thought".
...
I can imagine moving my arm without moving it.
...
For example, if I think in language at all, I imagine text, because my thought processes are highly visual.
...
does anyone think in music?

These make me think of the distinction between thought and imagination. CNO, you say visual thinking is an interpretation of base thought, but I'm not so sure. In fact, "base" / "proto" thought was one of the candidates I had as a name for unsymbolic thought, but I didn't choose it for this very reason - it implies that all thought is based on it, which I wasn't sure of. It might be right, but I haven't observed enough to come to a conclusion.

Usually, imagining something isn't thought to be the same as thinking something. So I'll define the term imagination as the simulation of physical senses in the mind - 'visual thought' is imagining sight, 'olfactory thought' is imagining smell, 'moving thought' is imagining movement, etc. My intuition says that these are the work of the lesser-conscious, and it fits into Cramulus's idea of the "moving brain".

Therefore I do think CNO has some truth in what he said. Visual imagination can be an interpretation of base thought, just like translating something into language, but I wonder if you can imagine without the need for base thought. I'm fairly good at imagining sound / music, so I'll try and observe that next time a song gets stuck in my head. For now, I think they are independent processes and don't depend on base thought - whereas creating language does.

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Cram’s consciousness is the self-awareness of thought through logical interrogation of thought (I’ll explain this if Cram disagrees, I’m having bad words week and I swear this isn’t a misunderstanding), where Legu is more interested in a property I can’t put a word to that is kind of like a “meta-qualia”, the qualia of thought, the personal and subjective attributes of that thought. Kind of like, not quite the same. Bad words week.

Haha yeah, I spent half the time thinking up this theory trying to come up with the right terms.

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Cram’s 18th century mystic-tinged view of consciousness seems at odds with thought as outlined here, and I find that super interesting. I have to put it into a good framework, but the two seem both antagonistic and complementary.

Cramulus's theory seems to just be the triune brain model but with different words (correct me if I'm wrong here, Cramulus). Wherein the brain is divided into 3 sections: reptilian brain, paleo-mammalian brain, and neo-mammalian brain[2]. I think it's a good model for explaining the evolution of consciousness, but I personally think the inclusion of the self / observer as a separate entity helps understand thinking a bit better from a subjective perspective.

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Arguably Cram’s consciousness is externally directed, awareness of the concrete parts and the interconnection between self and environment, where Legu’s thought concepts are extremely introverted.

This isn't necessarily true. In fact, the self / observer is constructed entirely from the person's interaction with their environment - particularly at a young age. The self is everything that we're programmed about: our habits, our beliefs, and our biases. It is by and large constructed as a defense mechanism against the world as a child.

The super and lesser conscious are also programmable to an extent. You can call them subconscious or separate spiritual entities - whatever, but they operate by their own language and their own systems of interpretation, just like the self. For example, if a child has an anxious-ambivalent attachment style[3] (a social function, governed by the lesser-conscious), their lesser-conscious will interpret otherwise meaningless actions, such as being told to wait by an adult who is too busy to talk, as rejection, and therefore will produce a negative emotional reaction. In a different child with a secure attachment, the same action will be interpreted neutrally and will not produce a negative reaction.

I'll also give a super-conscious example to further flesh out the idea. Cramulus and I both have separate theories on consciousness, his being the intellectual-emotional-moving brain theory, and mine being the lesser-self-super conscious theory. They may be similar, but every piece of data or observation we both receive will be processed differently and according to our own knowledge frameworks. Data that doesn't fit the system may be rejected, or might mean the framework is reworked.

I forgot to include this in the technical re-write, sorry.

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Action feels more like the observer’s place: it can recognize what’s going on but it cannot produce thought or emotion itself. It has conscious control of the body (exercise: try to think deep thoughts and be aware of them while intentionally moving), it seems reasonable to say it would have unconscious control of the body as well.

This is a good limitation for the lesser-self-super conscious map / theory.



1) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ORp3q1Oaezw

2) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triune_brain

3) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attachment_theory#Anxious-ambivalent_attachment
Title: Re: Thought Sans Language
Post by: altered on July 30, 2020, 08:21:18 am
Need to give this more time to simmer, but two things:



Attachment theory is not necessarily good science and shouldn’t be used to support your ideas. Much of it is garbage, the remainder is controversial at best and outright dangerous at worst.

Good overview of the worst of it is available at RationalWiki, but take note of their warning that not one bit of it is settled or solid. (I understand it was probably just an example, but it’s better to give solid examples than ones based on questionable theories.)



Also! When it comes to terminology, that’s the biggest reason I suggested the technical rewrite. This is an area where no one has a common language that can be considered meaningful for discussion beyond the surface level. Defining your terms from the outset stops you from running into semantic mismatches that are impossible to re-align without loads of frustration.

Technical writing is a very dry, boring, but extremely easy to parse style of writing that is great for opening discussions in unfamiliar communities about topics without much common language. The arrogance thing was meant as just a remark on how it came across since you didn't do that initially and your responses to the inevitable semantic mismatches seemed less than totally aware of the miscommunication happening.

That’s not a slight against you, though. It’s a simple mistake to make when you’re not familiar with this sort of thing in this sort of space, and my comments were meant with good intentions. (I think my later replies made that clear, but it IS bad at words week, so... worth restating.)

I heap loads of shit on people I truly think are up to no good, it’s very unambiguous. This was miscommunication, easily fixed, and opening up a whole heap of ideas and concepts to really chew on. So thank you for the rewrite!