Sunday, March 26, 2006

Language of Thoughts - Part II

Since thoughts can be language represented, they have structures. Natural languages or images as a means to realize it. Normal humans realize it using more than one form. However, children and people with disabilities realize it using symbols.

20th century western philosopher Jerry Fodor feels thoughts are a language represented with mental sentences or 'Mentalese' that is distinct from natural languages. His Language of Thought hypothesis can be understood from an analogy in computers. Computers use binary numbers to represent logic. All programs written in higher languages are translated to their binary forms which form the words of the language. Accordingly all natural language conversations have a underlying basic Mentalese.

On the other hand, the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis suggests an extreme approach that language shape thoughts. This idea relates to two of its principles. One, language determinism, our language determines our thoughts and two, language relativity, people speaking different languages think differently. This theory has come under many philosophers' microscope and is widely debated for its sanctity.

It seems internalized language is thought while externalized language is speech. Few years back, the Harvard Gazette ran an article on which comes first - language or thought. But the question remains - can thoughts exist without languages?

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Language of Thoughts - Part I

Hear your thoughts closely and you'll notice that it uses languages. Often this is in English, your mother tongue, some regional language spoken in your place or some language you know. The logic of requirement is understood - Thoughts are a form of communication. Communication requires a language. Therefore, thoughts require a language.

But thoughts are something personal to you - why is the mind, which I suppose is the originator, require a loopback communication to itself through a language. Is it not taxing for the self to support itself from something gained externally. This also raises a second question - how does one think before one has learnt a language? I find it hard to believe that I never thought before I learnt a language!

Maybe the answer to the first lies in the second. This is my theory: Thoughts have forms - one using pictures or the other using languages. When a person sleeps he/she hardly thinks using languages. Thoughts occur as picture sequences. When the person is awake, he/she can think using both ways. Like what you do when you imagine swimming - you see only pictures. When you plan on how you will spend money, you will use a language and 'hear' yourself talking. Maybe there is a way to eliminate languages and think as it should be thought. Wouldn't that mean our mode of thinking is primitive.

I still need to consider how this applies to newborns and people with disabilities. As I write this post I did hit upon a few links in google. If you have a different opinion, let me know your comments

Wednesday, March 15, 2006


A popular soft drink ad goes like this: Youngsters languid in the hills. One of the them decides to leave on his bicycle. The others join him on theirs. They pull off a 'cool' feat of drinking and cycling in the air. 'Cool' Drink - that's just one of the many stunts in advertisement today. Others are by street children who force their nimble body through tiny wheels not knowing why they are extorted to perform each time the traffic halts.

But why do people perform stunts and create records outside commercial circles? Is publicity a social urge? Case in point is watching people create bizarre records where no money is involved. Grotesque depictions hardly deserve a mention. For what meaningful purposes are these records created? Fame alone cannot be justified. Maybe it's time to legislate what constitute a record with human involvement.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Cyber city

Everywhere I go I find a poet has been there before me -Sigmund Freud

My sojourn at Hyderabad explained why it is a hot city. Hyderabad, like Bangalore, is an IT hub. What impressed me most were the wide three-lane roads. Demolished buildings on roadsides and flyover constructions suggest an increase in traffic.

Visited the Hitec towers which boasts of an infrastructure similar to ITPL Bangalore. In the morning, I travelled for about 20km without bumping a signal or a traffic jam - hardly a statement I can make in Bangalore. Not that there is smooth traffic flow in Hyderabad but I never ran into potholes or drains. Irrespective of traffic conditions, auto drivers there seem to flout rules. The driver of an auto, I happened to travel, cut in the highway to go on a one-way while the local "mama" totally neglected.

Being away from Bangalore had caused traffic sickness. Back home, I felt at ease once I experienced traffic jams - how else can you expect ones driving skills to be honed? Once the metro rail and possibly the mono rail are underway, personal vehicular traffic should decline.

[Mar 13] Addendum:
Bush's visit to ISB is making waves. My guess is his visit to Hyderabad but not Bangalore was more to do with ISB than with city infrastructure. Kiran Majumdar feels Today, Hyderabad, to some extent, has overtaken Bangalore


My laptop arrived today. I had ordered for a Vseries 2324 two weeks back but due to unavailabilty and end-of-life HP offered me, without any extra charges, a rollover model V2620 with a DVD writer.

This 14" WXGA notebook weighing about 2.3kgs is heavier than the 12" B series notebooks which weigh around 1.6kgs. The dimensions are only more than an A4 paper workbook. The battery life is around 2 hours. This model does not have an infra red port which I have seen in some HP laptops.