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Is it possible to think without language? How does language extend, direct, or even limit thinking?

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Introduction

Min Hwang November 1, 2003 Mr. Cannon Is it possible to think without language? How does language extend, direct, or even limit thinking? Language is a communicative tool, in the form of a structured set of oral, written, or gesticulated symbols, inherent and exclusive to our species, and in many ways can be considered an epitome of intellectual manifestation. This Way of Knowing has been around for millennia, and has been used for communication and expression from one individual to another. It is of very little dispute of the highly ubiquitous nature of language in relation to thought, but many questions still rage on about the effect language has on our thinking. Language is necessary for most types of advanced thinking; although there are certain cases where language is of no fundamental necessity. As to its influence to the way we think, language may be used to extend, direct, and at times even limit thinking - but only does so when used by people with that purpose. Language is a very powerful tool, but it is precisely that - a tool, and our ability to think is this tool's owner and user. As we think throughout the day, we utilize language as a tool to aid us. ...read more.

Middle

The government present within the plot of the book eliminates certain meanings of words in order to stop the people from thinking about them. For instance, the concept of individual freedom is nonexistent in 'Newspeak', as the government has eliminated all aspects of being 'free' (politically and religiously), except the physical connotation of the word. By eliminating certain meanings of words and some words entirely, the government is using language as a tool to impose a different type of thinking on the people. If people are prohibited to use words except the given limited set, their thinking will duly be affected. The way language limits thought in this example is not due to its inherent nature, but it was the government itself; the language merely acted as an effective tool. Even though we work with a finite set of words, when we are not prohibited to use other words, we modify or create words to suit our needs, showing that language does not limit our thinking due to its intrinsic nature. Often in scientific discoveries, the discovered particle or concept do not have names, but because we are not confined to use only a limited set of words, we can come up with new words to describe the discovery. ...read more.

Conclusion

In such propaganda he not only employed written language by describing them as "parasites" and "bacillus", but he also portrayed illustrated body language to establish a bias towards them. The propaganda of course greatly aided his anti-Semitist policies, by inculcating and setting root in the German people a spiteful view towards the Jewish race. Language as shown is a powerful tool to direct people's thinking, but as stated repeatedly, it has no inherent nature that directs or otherwise affects an individual's thoughts. Language is the symbol of the intellectual achievement exclusive to mankind, and is also an extremely powerful tool not as a means of communication, but also as a device to influence others. As is evident, language plays an important part of our thinking process, although not all processes (such as logic or abstract reasoning) require a fundamental integration of language beyond the translation of language into knowledge. The effects of languages on a person's way of thinking are not - as shown through the various examples - products of a fundamental property of language, but are a result of a society, a government, or just a group of people using language as a tool to influence others. Language is the most brilliant achievement of our specie's intellect, and as such, the latter is the master of the former. Hwang 1 ...read more.

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