Join 83,241 users already on read.cash

Words, Consciousness & Beyond

0 510 exc
Avatar for Mictorrani
Written by   504
1 year ago (Last updated: 10 months ago)

Is thinking without words possible? Is there a connection between language and consciousness? Can we reach a state of mind beyond words?

In "The Picture of Dorian Gray", Oscar Wilde wrote:

"Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid, and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet, what subtle magic there was in them! They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet as the viol or of lute. Mere words! Was there anything so real as words?”

But are words real? Aren't they mere symbols for what they mean? Or are they the very fabrics of our thoughts?

John 1:1 in the Christian Bible states:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

How should we interpret this, the strongest statement of the power of words ever made?

This is about the creation, but the meaning depends on what we mean was created. If we choose not to interpret the statement in the conventional way, but say that what was created was not the universe or the world in general, but the “human world” or rather “human consciousness of the world”, it suddenly makes sense. Is this about the dawn of human conscious thinking? Did consciousness, thinking and language develop together? Were words a precondition for thinking and consciousness?

If you think of it, when you think, don't you think with words? Can you even imagine thinking without words, without some sort of inner monologue, or perhaps a dialogue with yourself?

It is possible, but extremely rare. A few people can train themselves to this, but it requires long and hard training. It certainly does not come natural for humans.

Consciousness is peculiar, because in a sense that is what is really you, that is what you perceive as you, the “self” - yet you can think of yourself from outside, then it is as if the consciousness was separate from you. Or, alternatively, your consciousness is a you residing in something alien, which is the rest of you. There is a sharp barrier between the very small consciousness and the huge “rest of you”. So what is this strange thing we call “consciousness”? Is it possible to have more than one consciousness in the same body/nervous system, and what would be the consequences of that?

There is such a thing as multiple personalities, an extremely interesting phenomenon with sometimes very strange consequences. Different personalities residing in the same individual can really be radically different, know different things and have different sets of experience - and all that without even knowing about each other. The latter is thought-provoking and a trifle uncomfortable. Read it again: “without even knowing about each other”. How can we, anyone of us, be sure that we are not housing such other personalities? Perhaps we lead a double-life but are totally ignorant of the fact!

These are difficult and deep questions upon which we will not dwell too much right now, let's just say that there is some sort of connection between consciousness and words.

God delivers the law in form of words to Moses at Mount Sinai; Allah's message to humankind comes in form of words (the Qur'an). Words are the very threads out of which the fabric of human consciousness is woven. But are they a precondition for spirituality?

Bodhidharma (Daruma), the founder of Zen Buddhism. A woodblock print by Yoshitoshi from 1887.

No, I don't think so. In fact, genuine spirituality might be the opposite of words and consciousness, like Buddhist Enlightenment or, even more, the state of Satori in Zen. This is what mystics of all religions and traditions seek: to liberate the self from the conscious and logical and become one with God, the Divine, Cosmos, whatever name they give it. Words and what they say are just tools to obtain the purity and self-discipline required in order to be able to reach a genuinely spiritual state of mind (which is not easy). That, in turn, might be a glimpse of what lies behind the words – because words are not only power to our advantage; they trap us, enclose us, keep us away from what is beyond. They are symbols, they mean something, but we can see only their interpretation, not what is really there. We are prisoners in our consciousness and its constant stream of words. The genuinely spiritual experience might be to “see” beyond that, if only for a moment.

Copyright © 2020 Meleonymica/Mictorrani. All Rights Reserved.

All my articles on Brain & Mind can be found here, on Philosophy here, and on Psychology here.

You find all my writings on Read.Cash, sorted by topic, here.

Also, please join my community: Mind, Perception & Thought (c7a5).

If you are interested in words, also join my community, The Power of Words (4be2)

23
$ 4.07
$ 3.47 from @TheRandomRewarder
$ 0.53 from @Telesfor
$ 0.05 from @arslankhalid
+ 2
Avatar for Mictorrani
Written by   504
1 year ago (Last updated: 10 months ago)
Enjoyed this article?  Earn Bitcoin Cash by sharing it! Explain
...and you will also help the author collect more tips.

Comments

Speech or writing can be the interpretetions of our thoughts and feelings. One cannot seperate them from each other.

$ 0.00
1 year ago

I think one can separate them from each other. Also most people have both, there are some people having only speech and others who have only writing. Yet both can serve the same or a similar purpose.

$ 0.00
1 year ago

Of course you can think without words. If that wouldn't be possible it means deaf people can not think...

$ 0.00
1 year ago

You think of words only as speech? They can read anyway, so in some sense they have words. Their view of words might differ from someone who can hear, but they have words. The interesting case would be someone who can neither hear nor see.

$ 0.00
1 year ago

Just the word is although it expresses pictures and in more cases feelings but I would not call what one feels or sounds or a picture/view the same as a word.

$ 0.00
1 year ago

In my opinion it is equivalent to a word. A symbol of something, a symbol they perceive in their mind, followed by an understanding of what the symbol means. That's equivalent to words for this discussion. Perhaps the whole discussion should be taken to the step of symbols rather than words. All words are symbols, but all symbols are not words. But if we look at history, it is always expressed as "words".

$ 0.00
1 year ago

I have a perfect command of some languages, and people kept asking me: "What language do you think? Then I realized that I don't think in any language. I think with pure thoughts (contents) without words. But when I start to write or speak, I immediately start to put my thoughts into words of the language I am in. Therefore it is easy for me to translate, because I do not translate from language A into language B, but first translate language A into thoughts and then the thoughts into language B.

$ 0.00
1 year ago

Interesting process. But what is a pure thought? These contents without words, what are they? (Of course you cannot express that in words, because it is something beyond words, so perhaps I should not ask like that.)

$ 0.00
1 year ago

I would call it sense. One word alone does not necessarily make sense. It's only when you build a sentence that it makes sense. Sometimes it takes several sentences to make sense.

$ 0.00
1 year ago

Yes. I think I can understand how you mean.

$ 0.00
1 year ago

Thank you Mictorrani for another opportunity to reflect upon the nature of things.

A word can create or destroy; they have power.

They are a tool at the disposal of the intention that wields them; for good or for bad, to build or to bring down.

And so we need to respect words and language, and use them wisely.

With responsibility and skill.

Thank you again for how you are using yours.

$ 0.00
1 year ago

You're welcome. Yes, words are powerful tools.

$ 0.00
1 year ago