Language and Thought Relationship, Language and Thought RelationshipJune 26, 2021
There is an undeniable, tight bond between language and thought. Language, thought; Thought is an inseparable part of language, like the two sides of a sheet of paper. Language is the mold, the container, the vehicle of thought. It is language that embodies thought. Thought that is not embodied in language is not thought.
In order for a thought to be a thought and to have a thought value, it must become a word, that is, it must be expressed. We transform our thoughts into language patterns; We can express it by putting it into words and sentences and transfer it to others. In addition, words are the linguistic equivalents of beings in the universe, human beings can comprehend the existence of beings and movements in the universe only by naming them.
The entity, which is the equivalent of the word used by the speaker, appears in the listener’s brain only with the help of the word. It is not possible to talk about a being or a thought that cannot be expressed. Words; It is a tool for thinking and generating ideas.
Human; thinks about many subjects and events, a novel read, a movie watched, a news heard and similar situations. Thinking takes place simultaneously with the act of language (word).
Language is a symbolic system that is both useful for thinking and necessary for communicating thoughts to others. Its difference from other symbolizations (such as mathematics, logic, cybernetics) is that human’s natural ability is developed through a conscious and cultural activity. It also enables a common understanding and communication through the meaning of symbols in the form of words.
Language, besides expressing one’s feelings and thoughts, also provides the determination and development of the current thought. What is thought is shaped over and over again under the influence of language. Language develops through thought.
As thought develops, new concepts and related meanings are formed and language enriches this situation. This interaction between language and thought is an important element in a person’s better self-expression and productivity.
Thought gains meaning with concepts and people convey their thoughts to other people with language. Thought expressed with language appears not as it is in the mind, but in its concrete form, which is an indicator of concepts. Other people also try to understand what is being thought through this concreteness.
During the semantic formation and use of the language, there may be a narrowing or distortion of the meaning of the thought conveyed. Errors in language can also cause errors in thinking. Situations such as incorrect reasoning, conscious or unconscious use of concepts outside of their known meanings, derivation of meaningless words and misconfiguration of sentences blur the meaning.
Language as a speech act includes activities to indicate or communicate people’s problems and knowledge, images, feelings and designs through words (linguistic symbols) and sentences. Whereas, philosophical discourse requires terms to be defined and endowed with specific meanings.
Philosophers pay attention to logic and use language correctly when presenting their arguments. The thoughts expressed by language can be easily refuted due to the logical inconsistency and semantic disorders it contains.
Philosophers master the subtleties of language and use it skillfully in the intellectual process and expression. They even redefine the concepts or produce new concepts when the concepts are insufficient while explaining their thoughts.
This is how philosophers convey their thoughts. Philosophy, which questions thought and language, gives the best examples of the relationship between language and thought in the texts of philosophers.
Aristotle thinks that language is a means of expressing desire, anger, joy, sadness, in short, all kinds of influences in the soul as much as thoughts.
One way to understand the relationship of thought with language is to look at philosophical views and analyzes. Philosophy, which makes every field of human being an area of research and examination, also turns to language, which deeply affects human life, and questions it.
The branch of philosophy that deals with language is called the philosophy of language. The relationship between language and philosophy is based on the philosopher’s use of language in forming and explaining his own views. Philosophy is directly related to language as a conceptual activity of the philosopher.
Talking is the activity that people do to understand themselves and others. A common language and an agreement on the meanings of the words in that language are necessary for understanding.
Attributing different meanings to the words or terms used in conversation makes it impossible to agree. Even if people who attribute different meanings to the same concepts talk to each other, agreement may not be reached.
Compiled by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Atatürk University Department of Sociology Lecture Notes for Grade 1 “Introduction to Philosophy” and “Introduction to Sociology” (Ömer YILDIRIM); Other Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM), MEB Philosophy Textbook