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

From:Jim Henry <jimhenry1973@...>
Date:Friday, April 3, 2009, 19:23
On Fri, Apr 3, 2009 at 12:59 PM, Sai Emrys <sai@...> wrote:

> IME talking with people, there are several different kinds of > perceptions of what it is *like* to think or just to be conscious.
This is one of the things I have been planning to ask people about in my follow-up conlang fluency survey (another dozen or so questions to be sent to those who answered yes to one or more of the fluency questions on my first survey). It's been on my mind a lot lately since I started analyzing the results of the first phase of the survey; some people, in responses to questions about whether they sometimes think spontaneously in their conlang, or dream in it, said that they think, or dream, nonverbally. I've asked several friends about this recently. Mostly they report that theyperceive their thoughts to be a mix, sometimes a verbal monologue and sometimes visual or otherwise nonverbal.
> 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 what my thinking feels like most of the time -- probably most often in Engllish, pretty often in Esperanto, sometimes in toki pona or gjâ-zym-byn. A possibly unusual feature of my inner monologue (or dialogue?) is that it sometimes has actual dialogue tags, e.g. "he said", "he asked"... I think that only happens when I'm thinking in English (in which I've read far more narrative fiction than in other languages).
> 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)
I occasionally get this, but usually as an "echo" of what I'm verbally thinking, not by itself. I think it happens more often with Esperanto and other languages where I spend more time reading the language than conversing in it.
> * visualistic thought (which I don't really understand, but seems nonlinguistic)
Most of my thought that isn't verbal takes this form: e.g. my plans about what I'm going to do or where I'm going to go may take the form of visually imagining myself doing various things, or of a kind of map of where I expect to be travelling, with little verbal or textual echoes here and there that don't really carry the main burden of thought. There is also musical thought, which seems to be useful only for composing music, as far as I can tell.
> 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
I've tried doing some of this at times -- deflecting my thoughts on certain subjects from their default verbal paths into more textual or visual paths instead -- with very limited success. A few years ago I had a conversation with some friends about how we count things silently to ourselves -- do we think verbally with the names of numbers, or textually with arabic numerals, or visually with arrays of dots or other mathematical objects corresponding to the numbers...? Most of us counted verbally, but IIRC the ones who counted textually, visualising arabic numerals, counted faster. I tried for while after that to count with textual numerals instead of verbal, and could sometimes do so when deliberately thinking about it, but it never became my default mode (though I sometimes count spontanteously with numeral words in Esperanto or gjâ-zym-byn rather than English). -- Jim Henry


RoseRose <faithfulscribe@...>
Daniel Bowman <danny.c.bowman@...>