Can there be belief without language?

#1
https://iai.tv/articles/can-there-be-bel...-auid-1199

EXCERPT: . . . The ideas we have about young children's, animals' or aliens’ feelings and intentions suggest that it is possible to be a thinker without being a speaker. But some philosophers have denied it, arguing that only language users can believe anything. [...] Beliefs are often described as mental representations that have propositional structure, which means they can be characterised in terms of sentences. They permit rational inference such that we can use sets of beliefs about the world to infer new things about the world, and have truth value such that our beliefs are either true or not.

Given the parallel structure between belief and language, perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that some people think that it is impossible to have belief without language. Language and belief both appear to have sentential structure that allows us to think things like: All dogs are mammals, Fido is a dog, and from those two thoughts conclude that Fido is a mammal. From these sorts of observations, we develop hypotheses. Maybe we think in language! Maybe language is required to have a thought at all. Maybe it is linguistic structure that allows us to solve problems and construct generalisations. After all, language is like magic, permitting the creation of an infinite number of new thoughts with its finite set of tools.

It’s not a bad hypothesis, but it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Language is powerful, but not so powerful that it creates thoughts out of nothing. Language can be used to create new concepts which allow us to think new thoughts, so with language we can create beliefs that we never had before. An alternative hypothesis is that without something to think about in the first place, there would be nothing to talk about. Thoughts drive language.

According to the alternative hypothesis, language is a tool for communicating thoughts. If the function of language is to communicate what we think, we have another explanation for the parallel structure between belief and language: belief is required for language, but language is not required for belief.

[...] The two hypotheses make different predictions about the conceptual connection between belief and language. If language is required for belief, then they should be conceptually intertwined, and there should be no evidence of belief that doesn’t also serve as evidence for language. However, when we understand belief as having the function of thinking and language as having the function of communicating, we can make sense of evidence for belief that does not provide evidence for language. Because prelinguistic child behaviour, animal behaviour, or hypothetical alien behaviour provokes questions about what these individuals are thinking. It is sometimes natural for us to ask what a non-language-user thinks. In contrast, we are never inclined to wonder whether a language user is a thinker.

Scientists accept animal belief as the best explanation for animals’ facilities with communication and cultural technologies. [...] Those who think that language is necessary for thought have to reject the scientists’ appeal to animal belief to explain their ability to communicate and use technology. But they can’t deny the conceptual priority of belief over language. (MORE - details)
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#2
I''m trying to feel what it's like to have a non-lingual belief, tapping into that instinctual memory that goes back 6 million years. All my beliefs today seem couched in words and propositions, but could they exist without these? Take life after death for instance. I accept that. I don't 100% believe it. But I feel pretty sure there is some form of continuance. Now how does that belief exist outside of language? It doesn't. It assumes various definitions of death and life and consciousness that I have learned over the years. It forms itself out of assumptions and propositions that I have already accepted and understood. Can a belief exist outside of language? I don't know. But it seems to be a very hard thing to ascertain.
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#3
I believe fire burns, based solely on experience, without any need for language.

Language allows us to prove it is so, but moving from belief to fact does not change the reality.
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#4
If someone is incapable of hearing, reading, writing, sign language - could that person still believe in a new concept/idea/philosophy?

I'd say it would be very difficult to find the path towards belief/understanding.
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#5
Any ability to experience, at least by intelligent beings, allows for belief. Even if you can't learn language, you can see oft enough repeated patterns to believe in causes, even if erroneous ones.
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#6
(Jul 4, 2019 03:38 AM)C C Wrote: https://iai.tv/articles/can-there-be-bel...-auid-1199

EXCERPT: . . . The ideas we have about young children's, animals' or aliens’ feelings and intentions suggest that it is possible to be a thinker without being a speaker. But some philosophers have denied it, arguing that only language users can believe anything. [...] Beliefs are often described as mental representations that have propositional structure, which means they can be characterised in terms of sentences. They permit rational inference such that we can use sets of beliefs about the world to infer new things about the world, and have truth value such that our beliefs are either true or not.

Given the parallel structure between belief and language, perhaps it shouldn’t be surprising that some people think that it is impossible to have belief without language. Language and belief both appear to have sentential structure that allows us to think things like: All dogs are mammals, Fido is a dog, and from those two thoughts conclude that Fido is a mammal. From these sorts of observations, we develop hypotheses. Maybe we think in language! Maybe language is required to have a thought at all. Maybe it is linguistic structure that allows us to solve problems and construct generalisations. After all, language is like magic, permitting the creation of an infinite number of new thoughts with its finite set of tools.  

It’s not a bad hypothesis, but it doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. Language is powerful, but not so powerful that it creates thoughts out of nothing. Language can be used to create new concepts which allow us to think new thoughts, so with language we can create beliefs that we never had before. An alternative hypothesis is that without something to think about in the first place, there would be nothing to talk about. Thoughts drive language.

According to the alternative hypothesis, language is a tool for communicating thoughts. If the function of language is to communicate what we think, we have another explanation for the parallel structure between belief and language:  belief is required for language, but language is not required for belief.

[...] The two hypotheses make different predictions about the conceptual connection between belief and language. If language is required for belief, then they should be conceptually intertwined, and there should be no evidence of belief that doesn’t also serve as evidence for language. However, when we understand belief as having the function of thinking and language as having the function of communicating, we can make sense of evidence for belief that does not provide evidence for language. Because prelinguistic child behaviour, animal behaviour, or hypothetical alien behaviour provokes questions about what these individuals are thinking. It is sometimes natural for us to ask what a non-language-user thinks. In contrast, we are never inclined to wonder whether a language user is a thinker.

Scientists accept animal belief as the best explanation for animals’ facilities with communication and cultural technologies. [...] Those who think that language is necessary for thought have to reject the scientists’ appeal to animal belief to explain their ability to communicate and use technology. But they can’t deny the conceptual priority of belief over language. (MORE - details)

Quote:The ideas we have about young children's, animals' or aliens’ feelings and intentions

young children have animals
or aliens
those aliens or animals those young children have... have feelings and intentions....

?

the readers ideas about the feelings and intentions of the aliens & animals that young children own ?
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#7
For recognition purposes by both animals and humans, items of the everyday world can obviously be represented by their own sensations stored in memory. Comparison of several POVs and encounters with an object perhaps yielding an average or generalized mental picture, odor, sound, etc.

But for more complex concepts or systematic beliefs which require inference and creation, humans need symbols of some kind. Whether it's noises, gestures, or squiggles of marks or forms/silhouettes of everyday things or scenes that are recruited, they represent something else that's abstract (despite being concrete signs that are phenomenal/observable themselves).

One token may need the relationships and rules in an organized framework of other symbols to underlyingly give to or support meaning for its specific sign. Situation vaguely similar to routine semantic affairs revolving around normally sensed objects -- if someone just says "door" with no door around, what does that mean? Find and open a door? Keep the door closed? Kick the door in? Burn the door? Paint graffiti on the door? "Where is the door, what is a door?" asks the wild-man living in the woods, sleeping in the canopies of trees. It needs more, it needs a background scheme for delivering more detailed simulation via symbols.

(Jul 7, 2019 02:51 AM)RainbowUnicorn Wrote:
Quote:The ideas we have about young children's, animals' or aliens’ feelings and intentions

young children have animals
or aliens
those aliens or animals those young children have... have feelings and intentions....

? the readers ideas about the feelings and intentions of the aliens & animals that young children own ?


Space aliens apparently reflecting the most extreme or unknown exotic possibilities for introspective furniture -- or maybe they even lack anything private.
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