Most Thought is NOT in Linguistic Form


Well-Known Member
Reaction score
Most Thought is NOT in Linguistic Form

Mammals evolved on this planet about 200 million years ago. One type of mammal, the hominid, began using audible signals to convey meaning about 4 million years ago. Language, as we comprehend that word, began much less than 4 million years ago.

What is thought? The dictionary gives us various definitions of thought; I would guess that it is accurate to say that the actions of neural networks that control our sensorimotor actions can be regarded as thought. In other words, such things as memory, control of movements, and processing of sense inputs are all a process of thinking. Thinking produces thoughts. Thinking goes on all the time even while we sleep.

I guess that we will agree that all mammals had to have the ability to think. This leads to the conclusion that thinking was been happening on this planet at least 200 million years before human language existed on this planet.

Those individuals who accept the science of evolution must then conclude that humans may think in linguistic forms some small percentage of the time but that most thought is not in linguistic form.

“It is the rule of thumb among cognitive scientists that unconscious thought is 95 percent of all thought—and that may be a serious underestimates.”

What does all this mean to you? It means that most of the things that you think are true about thinking are pure non-sense. This also applies to many of the things we all believe that are based upon the philosophical attitudes that fills our life are likewise pure non-sense.

How can we overcome this avalanche of pure nonsense that we learn from our culture via social osmosis?

Quotes from “Philosophy in the Flesh”—Lakoff and Johnson
"hominid, began using audible signals to convey meaning about 4 million years ago"

Who told you that? I study linguistics for a long time, and there are scientists thinking (not without facts) that humane speech very much differs from animals' sounds. Humane speech too much developed. It has got structures which couldn't have appeared from animals. Take, for ex, Perfect Tenses.

"The dictionary gives us various definitions of thought"

I'm sure they're enough competent to find out a billions of definitions. But if the truth is in definitions?
And I'm completely agree - most thought is not in linguistic form. I'm acquainted with people of different native languages. Even myself - I think in Russian usually, but when typing this message I have no time to think in Russian and then translate it in English. English words become a film which my thought-forms are dressed; temporarly, of cause.
And I would ask - who is the thinker? Has it his own native language as a system of words?

P.S.: I think its necessary to explain what osmosis is. As for me, I don't know that. And many people too.

An American who has lived in Germany for 5 years might correctly say "I learned to speak German by social osmosis".

Osmosis--effortless often unconscious assimulation. Plants get neutrition and water from the ground by the process of osmosis.
Osmosis--effortless often unconscious assimulation..
I've been trying the osmosis method of communication with several forum members around here. Not getting results. What am I doing wrong? :(
"Osmosis--effortless often unconscious assimulation. Plants get neutrition and water from the ground by the process of osmosis."

Thanks. It explains, I guess, to Netti-Netti her question - "What am I doing wrong?" I'll say - Maybe you forgot people are a bit different from plants? Osmosis is about plants. :)
"How can we overcome this avalanche of pure nonsense that we learn from our culture via social osmosis?"

Well, we probably can't, really. What we can do is realize that it's a game, and there's no way to not play.

Experience is structured in a fundamental way before any concepts, invigorated by sense data, are constructed. Existing preconceptual structures affect newly developing structures of what we experience.

We have preconceptual structures that await any new experience and perhaps the most fundamental of these is the container schema.
This container schema has a boundary that distinguishes the container’s interior from the exterior.

With a little thought we can find dozens of instances during the day when we distinguish in-out activities. We emerge out of a deep sleep and into the morning sunlight; we get out of bed and go to the kitchen to take the bread from the bread box and place the slices into the toaster.


We conceptualize an enormous number of activities in CONTAINER terms. The container schema (a mental codification of experience that includes a particular organized way of perceiving cognitively) is a spatial-relations concept that all advanced neural creatures impose upon acts of perception and conception.

There is a spatial logic inherent in the container schema; it is axiomatic that given two containers, A and B, and an object, X, if A is in B and X is in A, then X is in B. The container schema like all image schemas can be imposed on what we hear, on what we see, and on our motor movements; such schemas are cross-modal.

The container schema is a fundamental spatial-relations concept that allows us to draw important inferences. This natural container format is the source for our logical inferences that are so obvious to us when we view Venn diagrams. If container A is in container B and B is in container C, then A is in C.

A container schema is a gestalt (a functional unit) figure with an interior, an exterior, and a boundary—the parts make sense only as part of the whole. Container schemas are cross-modal—“we can impose a conceptual container schema on a visual scene…on something we hear, as when we conceptually separate out one part of a piece of music from another…This structure is topological in the sense that the boundary can be made larger, smaller, or distorted and still remain the boundary of a container schema…Image schemas have a special cognitive function: They are both perceptual and conceptual in nature. As such, they provide a bridge between language and reasoning on the one hand and vision on the other.”

The PART-WHOLE Schema:

We conceptualize our self as a whole with parts. Families are conceptualized as a whole with parts. “The general concept of structure itself is a metaphorical projection of the CONFIGURATION aspect of PART-WHOLE STRUCTURE. When we understand two things as being isomorphic, we mean that their parts stand in the same configuration to the whole.”

Basic Logic: If the WHOLE exists then the PARTS exist. The PARTS can exist while the WHOLE may not exist. “We have evolved so that our basic-level perception can distinguish the fundamental PART-WHOLE structure that we need in order to function in our physical environment.”

There are a few more but this gives you an idea of how SGCS (Second Generation Cognitive Science) claims that we structure our reality.

Quotes from “Women, Fire, and Dangerous Things: What Categories Reveal about the Mind” by George Lakoff