November 06, 2008

Passing Thought

I recently was thinking about what life might be like if we were unable to visualize thoughts in our minds. Imagine if we actually had to draw out our thoughts on paper in order to "see" them, or speak sounds to hear them. Our brains provide us with such a vivid canvas on which we can easily illustrate in two or three dimensions, internalized within ourselves. It also provides us with a stage in which we can animate anything or anyone in any way we want, and the orchestra to conjure up whatever audio we like.

What if we had these capacities taken away? Could we somehow still get by based only on what we perceive with our eyes and ears?


  1. If the title of this post is intentional wordplay, I like it.

    I don't think we'd have the ability to even function like higher order animals without those cognitive abilities. We might have some biological instincts that'd enable us to survive, but taking away the ability to visualize or form words in our brains, that would make it nearly impossible for us to think at all.

  2. Hmm... women's lives would be a lot less complicated and a great deal "happier" - in theory! Why do I say that? Well, women depend a lot on visualizing thought, so to speak, and no where is this more evident than in cooking up rumors, tales and building a mountain out of a tiny suspicion.

    If not out-rightly harmful stuff like gossiping and harboring suspicions, there's also the seemingly innocent yet wasteful "day dreaming" that depends upon creating a whole separate world, all within a complex and structured network of neurons!

    But yes, it would be a gloomy world without the power to integrate, imagine, analyse and postulate. How could we possibly thrive without the ability to plan, set goals and imagine a possible future?

  3. Scientist A once came to discuss with B, and said- imagine a one dimentional crystal of hydrogen atom...

    B said, I can't imagine! It does not happen!

  4. Shan: I'd agree that we wouldn't achieve much if humans never had these capabilities. What if a perfectly healthy adult happens to lose this capability later in his life? Can he/she get by?

    Ameera: The other side of the coin is that, without this capability, there would be lots of things said that are otherwise best left unsaid. If we weren't actually capable of "thinking before we speak", what kind of things would we be saying? It could be much worse.

    ms: Intriguing.

  5. Oh, that's true! And for those of us who tend to think little before they speak, it would spell disaster! =O

    Note to self: Keep quiet!

  6. To each a different thought - Good luck.