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OT: What is your qualia of consciousness / thought? (WAS: does conlanging change your sense of reality?)

From:Sai Emrys <sai@...>
Date:Friday, April 3, 2009, 17:09
Alex invoked, so...

IME talking with people, there are several different kinds of
perceptions of what it is *like* to think or just to be conscious.

Going just from my personal discussions with others:

The most common one seems to be an 'inner verbal monologue'. That is,
there is a sense of oneself as talking about stuff, and that talking
*is* the consciousness. E.g. you'll think out a problem by talking it
out in your head; have a running commentary about what others are
saying or doing; what others might think of you; etc etc.

This is *not* the same thing as schizophrenia or MPD or the like
because the voice is *you*, i.e. it doesn't seem like some outside
commenter. And it's not an auditory (or for the below, visual)
illusion; there's no confusion as to its overlapping with real
audio/visual senses. It just is audio-like in quality.

Less common and less easily described, there are:
* other linguistic-monologue kinds of thought:
- textual thought, which is essentially the same as an inner verbal
monologue except that it's not-quite-visual text (somewhat like a
'typewriter' display effect) rather than psuedo-verbal speech (I've
only met one person who has this)
- signed thought, ditto but using a sort of ?proprioceptive sense of
sign language (only met 1, but have read accounts of others; all born
deaf with early access to ASL)
* abstract thought, where ideas aren't really encoded symbolically in
any perceptible way until it comes to expressing, memorizing, or
rehearsing them - i.e. their manipulation (thinking through a problem,
recognizing social context, etc) is purely abstract (this is what I
* visualistic thought (which I don't really understand, but seems nonlinguistic)

O CONLANGers: what is *your* qualia of thought?

This is a potential research interest of mine, but I've not seen
anything published on it that's not blithely assuming that everyone
uses one particular form (usually the inner verbal), so if you know
stuff please forward me links / pdfs.

I'd like at some point to do research on the neural correlates of
these different qualia, see if they could be messed with (eg cause
someone to have a different type of conscious experience), and see if
they correlate well with changes created by meditation*. I may
actually have the opportunity to do this soon (grad school), so ideas
for research projects or background reading would be appreciated.

- Sai

* Even more OT: Meditation teaching often presumes inner verbal
monologue, and that the goal of meditation is to shut it up (eg
through mantra recitation or mushin induction techniques) so that one
can experience the rest of consciousness. IMO this is inaccurately
dogmatic, in that a) not everyone does think that way to begin with (I
don't) and b) any given school usually teaches only one class of
technique (eg mantra recitation and other one-point-focus techniques),
which isn't necessarily the best for everyone to achieve that goal.

I'd like eventually to write a recipe-book of meditation techniques;
if you're interested, see
and (which are effectively
an excerpt and crude outline, respectively) and contact me off-list.


Amanda Babcock Furrow <langs@...>
Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
Roger Mills <romiltz@...>
Kelvin Jackson <kechpaja@...>
Matthew Turnbull <ave.jor@...>
And Rosta <and.rosta@...>
Herman Miller <hmiller@...>
Christophe Grandsire-Koevoets <>