Does thought require language?

This is a chapter from my fourth book called When hunger yearns

This is a very interesting question. When I was born I did not yet know language but I had thought. I think. But then I can't remember my thoughts before I learnt language and I could speak. What about early men, did they have language? Maybe they did not have spoken and written language but they had a language of the mind? Would that be a sort of pure language? Would this language be the same for all humans? In modern times how could we test for this question? Is there anyone living today that does not have language and how would we be able to communicate with that person to answer the question. What about animals and microorganisms, do they have language? Are microorganisms capable of thought? Are plants capable of thought? Which came first, thought or language? Are our thoughts restricted by our language? This question reminds me of a quote I came across in previous writing. Ludwig Wittgenstein stated that, "The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." I wonder how the Islamic scholars would answer this question and what would be the language of Adam? Was man created with some language? Would man die if language died? This is one of those questions that has created more questions than answers for me. What about those times when we find it hard to express what we think and feel with language? If I express my thoughts through a painting, is that using language? What is pure thought? What is pure thought without language and how is that related to God? They say that God knows us without us having to tell Him. How is omniscience related to the question of thought and language?

I asked my friend Gemini about experiments related to the question at hand. He said that experiments using brain imaging techniques have shown that areas of the brain associated with language do not activate when people perform certain tasks. He tells me that not everyone experiences an inner monologue, the constant "stream of speech" in our heads. Gemini pointed to research that suggests a significant portion of the population doesn't have this inner monologue, yet they still think and reason. Gemini further tells me that people with aphasia, a condition that affects language processing, can still have complex thoughts and feelings. Gemini then makes a last point that there is evidence that animals can solve problems, navigate, and communicate in ways that don't seem to rely on language.

In my mind if we say that thought created language then thought can exist without language. But then does language give thought meaning? I decided to take myself on a random journey. With a mountain of information in front of me. Let me see where random takes me. I thought of a random number. It was 6522. I then Googled "6522 thought and language" and one of the results pointed to Wittgenstein again. I asked my friend Gemini to shed some light on this. He tells me that Ludwig Wittgenstein 6522 refers to proposition 6.522 in his influential work, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. This proposition is part of a series of propositions that discuss the limitations of language and logic, and the nature of the world. In proposition 6.522, Wittgenstein states: "There is indeed the ineffable which shows itself; it is the mystical." Now I wonder, how does Wittgenstein link God and language and thought and the question of does thought require language? I asked my friend Gemini and he replied, "Wittgenstein doesn't give a definitive answer on whether thought requires language. However, his ideas about the limitations of language and the importance of shared language systems suggest a close connection between the two. This connection has implications for how we understand religious experiences or concepts like God, which might be considered ineffable or shaped by our language."

Related is this quote I found by Rumi, "Silence is the language of God, all else is poor translation." My friend Gemini tells me that this quote emphasizes the ineffability of God, suggesting true understanding lies beyond words. This has me feeling that language is just an expression of what we think. And that can have different meanings to those watching and listening and reading. The true essence of our thoughts and consciousness lies within us. I have all these thoughts about the question at hand that I tried to put into words that form a chapter in this book. It makes sense to me in the context of my thoughts but once it reaches the context of the thoughts of the reader it takes on a life of its own. Language is just a tool. Thought is more fundamental. Even the word fundamental has mental in it even if this is just coincidence. While thought might be more fundamental, language can also shape our thinking. Language and thought work together. So while I recognise the limits of language I appreciate its usefulness and the power of words to bring our thoughts to life and to connect humanity. With great power comes great responsibility. George Orwell tells us that, "But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought."


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