What Is Thought?
James Adrian
      Observation of one's own mind can be informative. In particular, one can notice what happened, and in what order.

      Observation of new-born children is also informative. Watch them make decisions prior to learning any words. Actions in response to events provides evidence of awareness of events. Responses are not completely uniform. Some of them are different. Some of the child's actions are associated with events not created by the child. These actions are responses. Not all of the responses are unconscious episodes resulting from conditioning or in-born features of behavior. Before words are learned, and however seldom awareness might be observed with certainty, such awareness is not always the result of words being associated with events.

      Our modern life is saturated with written and spoken communication by means of languages - so much so that some are tempted to think that there is no thought without words; however, in all walks of life, many observations, suspicions, and conclusions occur to us in a flash of time without recalling any words. While this is difficult to experimentally prove, it is even more difficult to prove that all thoughts are the result of unconscious word processing.

      Meanwhile, there is testimony.

      Episodes of novel information being evaluated and used in a reasoning process is sometimes not the result of well-established habits of mind. This happens in those who are well practiced in thinking without words. It has advantages, and it is a platform from which other discoveries can be made.

      The creation in history of some particular words has given us misleading distinctions and associations that must be corrected or refined through an awareness of the issues.

      Emotional feelings, in the extreme, cary with them physiological responses. These include such events as increased tension, elevated heart rate, tearing, muscular relaxation, altered breathing, and many others. The dispassionate acknowledgement or use in reasoning of facts is a type of thinking that is very different from worry or joy. Assigning the word feeling to the passionate and the word thinking to the dispassionate seems reasonable; but there is no common word to use that conflates these two kinds of experiences when that is what is actually happening.

      Perhaps one of the most obvious needs for more accuracy in description is in expressing the feeling/thought of suspicion; but a little reflection will reveal the unspoken feelings of a great many supposedly dispassionate thoughts.

      Words, as the basis of thought, are not protectors of rationality. The misuse of words is the basis of brainwashing and the cause of false beliefs. I recommend that you master perceiving, learning, and reasoning without words, as well as using only the nouns and verbs for which you have formal definitions.


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