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COGNITIONNOTESTEST2 - 1of32 Movie trailer from Youtube...

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Movie: trailer from Youtube: “Religious” trailer (Lennon Aldert) (discusses American paradox) Today: October 14 th 2008 What is the relation b/w languages and thought? - Are language and thought the same thing? - Could we think (in any significant way) if we didn’t have language? - Also: Do people who speak different languages speak differently? Take Home Message: Language and thought are independent from one another (although they may of course interact) but nonetheless independent Meaning that “thinking” is possible in the absence of language - We will see evidence for this Outline: - Why language and thought must be independent: common sense - Why language and thought be independent: experimental evidence - How thinking can happen without language Why would anyone believe that language and thought are the same thing? To begin with? What are the intuitive reasons? a) One of them has to do with when we do often when we go to bed often – we started thinking about our day, our next day, “because of the little voice we heard when we do some of our thinking” you hear it but it’s not vocalized – so that suggests that if you hear a little voice in your head when you think then language must be the medium that enables you to speak in the first place. Because of the little voice we hear when we do some of our thinking b) Because of the belief that only humans can think c) And since we’re also the only one who can talk…then language must equal thought - Intuitive thoughts are not correct, world is much more counterintuitive In fact this view is rather common: example from a famous novel (passage from book, see slide nine) Orwell is talking about a world that never came to be, but there are things beyond power to commit b/c they’re nameless and unimaginable – if something doesn’t have a name, then you can’t think about it – the two must be the same – if it doesn’t have a name, you can’t conceptualize it. – this is completely wrong! Words and concepts are the same thing, no word no concept! Language = Thought - If something doesn’t have a name, it is therefore unthinkable! (Word/Concept) (see slide 10) - English has the word “money” in it o Besides, to be able to think the thought “money,” you need the word “money” - French does not have the word “money” o Therefore, to a French person the concept of “money” should be unthinkable! o By implication this means that the French could not be able to think about money – which is insane! Of course they can. So the two have to be separate. There’s a concept, and how different languages accept it. We say the word “money” in English, and the word “argent” in French, 1 of 33
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they’re not the same thing. Otherwise if this were the case you could not translate one word into the other – what is preserved? The thought – the abstract thought/proposition/concept, which means that they must exist separately from language.
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