To what extent is language necessary for thought?

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Anitha Sivakumaran 12H                23/09/12

TOK: To what extent is language necessary for thought?


Language can be thought of as a symbol system, engaged in representing the world, capturing and communicating thought and experience. Language also can be seen as existing in itself, as something to be played with and transformed and shaped in its own right and something that can transform and shape thought and action. Language is the most important basic tool in creating societies. It is language through which we communicate our feelings whether in form of words, gestures or voices. Humans or animals both communicate in different ways to pass their messages and also creating norms for establishing societies. Without Language humans won't be able to understand each other and without understanding each other they won't be able to communicate, without communication there won't be any cooperation, there won't be any groups formed forming different tasks and there won't be any society necessary for survival for humans. It is a tool to be a human, to communicate, understand and respond.

 Language is an integral part of our existence and survival. We depend on it to think and communicate on a day to day basis from person to person. In this age of cellular phones, fax machines and the internet, we use language so much that we usually take the power of language for granted. Language can in fact have the ability to do all those things; it can change our values, our identity and even what we can and cannot know. This would lead to the conclusion that language is a lot more powerful than we think.

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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. In addition, our thoughts are defined as the power to think and imagine. Transferring thoughts would not only mean communicating to others, but also thinking within one's mind or dealing with an experience. From these meanings, we can now understand why language is needed for us to think, for without language, we cannot attach anything to our sense perceptions and ...

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