• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

To what extent is it possible to have thought without language?

Extracts from this document...


Rachel Olawumi 12I ?To what extent is it possible to have thought without language?? The idea that thought and language are intertwined dates back to classical civilisations; however the question has enjoyed much more entertainment since the turn of the 17th century. The great philosophers of the ?Age of Enlightenment? such as Immanuel Kant and Wilhelm von Humboldt and later contemporary linguists ? including Edward Sapir and Benjamin Lee Whorf - put forward theories and hypotheses which argue whether or not thought can exist without language. Even after 400 years the question is still a subject of debate as it were, and commandeers attention from specialists across many fields. More recently (1988) the psychologist Lawrence Weiskrantz wrote ?Thought Without Language? which draws on notions of past thinkers and also contributed concepts which have been popular in Western society. ...read more.


Image theory is the idea that the meaning of a word is defined by the image it conjures in the mind. This idea proposes that thought can exist absolutely before and without language. Some argue that human beings think in images, this could explain why we are often faced with the predicament of not being able to communicate effectively what we are thinking. If our thoughts exist as images we do not need language to know and understand these words. For example, in the Inuit community there are many words for different kinds of snow - aput ?snow on the ground', gana 'falling snow', piqsirpoq 'drifting snow', and qimuqsuq ? a snow drift? ? The images that the different words conjure can exist without the words themselves, and the images do not change because of the word but rather the word changes because of the image. ...read more.


This could be owing to the fact that Yoruba is a language rife with proverbs and puns and speakers of it are accustomed to thinking on the subject matter what is said. Therefore proving that the style of the Yoruba language limits what speakers interpret and therefore what they think and know. I personally believe that a limited amount of thought can exist without language. It is not necessary to consult and communicate with other human being about our thoughts on simplicities. However how would we know the abstract concepts without language? How would we think of love and woe? The lack of language can limit our experience and thought thereof. Thought can exist without language, but language enriches thought and is therefore an integral part in developing the human mind. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge essays

  1. Does language determine or limit thought?

    Without language, one way of knowing is lost. Language allows thoughts and ideas to be conveyed simply and clearly. However, we cannot express through language what we do not have words for, "about what one cannot speak, one must remain silent"7. "I know more than I can say,"8 said Michael Polanyi.

  2. Does Language Determine or Limit Thought?

    Both humans and animals use a form of communication to express their thoughts. Humans can use many forms of communication such as verbal or written but all animals use a different method. For example, dolphins use echolocation clicks to communicate to different dolphins or detect detailed information from the world

  1. A study of language, regarding possible influences on thought?

    However, a better example would be the aborigines of Tasmania who have a separate word for every kind of native tree, over two hundred in total, but do not have a word for 'tree'. This is because in their environment, all the trees which surround them appear to be drastically different.

  2. Is it possible to think without language? How does language facilitate, extend, direct or ...

    Proof that thinking without language is possible has been found by several scientific experiments. There is a famous saying which states ?a picture is worth a thousand words?; this quotation was said by many people through history and shows that descriptions of pieces of art have been limited by language.

  1. To what extent is language necessary for thought?

    This would lead to the conclusion that language is a lot more powerful than we think. Definition To analyze this concept, we must first know the definitions of language and thought. In the most basic terms from my understanding is that language is a means of communication by labelling our thoughts with words or symbols.

  2. That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. (Christopher Hitchens). ...

    This theory is used to explain the mass defect in nucleus of atoms and many other important claims in the field of physics. So it is currently one of the most important theories in understanding the universe. From this example we can see that in subjects like science where knowledge

  1. That which can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. (Christopher Hitchens). ...

    Also as a knower, I understand that Mathematics is not always evidential but conceptual also. In fact, Alexander Bogomolny stresses the fact that drills and proofs make Math tedious. ??if it's possible at all for a layman to acquire an appreciation of math, it's only possible through a consistent exposure

  2. TOK essay- Can language be said to hinder thought?

    Some common stereotypes are: Asians have high IQs. They are smarter than most in Math and Science. These people are more likely to succeed in school, French are romantic, Irish are alcoholics, Russians are violent, African Americans play basketball, and Immigrants have poor English etc.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work