These are high order abilities associated with a high level of metaconsciousness and were impaired due to language loss. In addition to this, she claims she was no longer able to see herself as a separate entity from the surrounding environment. This is considered a very basic form of self-awareness as already discussed that has even been claimed to be present in primates Allen, thus illustrating the low level of consciousness available without language. Interestingly, she states that having been stripped of language and memory abilities, she was aware that she now had a consciousness resembling that which an infant may possess.
This also supports the present argument that very young children have only a basic consciousness particularly before the emergence of language and memory abilities. Despite this evidence, there are some aspects of the experience which do not fit in with the present argument.
1. Mental Language
For example, Taylor argues that she kept some metacognitive skills and was fully aware of being unable to hold onto thoughts. This awareness and also her ability to retrospectively introspect on her experience suggests that she actually maintained more meta-self-consciousness than she gives credit for Mitchell, In addition, there is no direct evidence and therefore, the deficits experienced could have been caused by something other than inner speech loss such as the peripheral left hemispheric damage that was suffered.
In order to investigate this further, one could use case studies of people with left hemisphere damage but no loss of inner speech and record their deficits. This would be difficult and complex and is yet to be explored. He asserts that Taylor puts too much emphasis on inner speech in normal experience and her introspection is not firm evidence.
The Language of Thought Hypothesis (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Despite this, Mitchell acknowledges there are degrees of consciousness and a higher level must be dependent on language. This is in line with the current argument and provides further support. Carruthers agrees with these views and asserts that consciousness involves self-awareness which requires thought. He claims inner speech and therefore language must be at least someway involved in certain types of thought. Carruthers argues that some thought types e.
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As a fully metaconscious being, when we have a thought an imaged auditory sentence experienced as inner speech , we are not only aware of what we have just thought but also that we have just thought it. In addition to this we are also aware of the way in which we thought it i. This is named reflexive thinking. This reflection can be reiterated continuously to a high level of awareness and is fully dependent on language. These imaged sentences are our conscious thoughts Carruthers, This theory supports the argument that language is necessary for high level consciousness, and especially for thought.
In addition, Carruthers believes a main function of language is integrating and collating information from various domains to create a unitary conscious experience Carruthers, He argues that all non-domain specific reasoning is conducted in natural language. The language faculty has access to information from various domains and can build LF representations that combine this information to produce conscious inner speech.
This is demonstrated by Hermer-Vasquez, Moffet and Munkholm which used a similar experimental paradigm to Cheng In Cheng , adult rats were unable to perform as expected as they could not integrate information from different domains. Hermer-Vasquez et al. This is supported by Hermer-Vazquez, Spelke and Katnelson , as cited in Hermer-Vasquez et al, who showed that when inner speech was intentionally disrupted in verbally competent adults during the task, they performed at the same level as both the infants and rats.
This shows inner speech to be the faculty permitting completion of this task by allowing integration. Adults and children around years can integrate the information and thus experience a more refined and unified consciousness that is rich in inner speech. This essay has presented evidence and theories showing the necessity of inner speech for self-awareness Morin, , thought Carruthers, and information integration Carruthers, ; thus supporting the argument that language is essential for higher levels of consciousness such as self-consciousness and metaconsciousness Neuman and Nave, The literature in relation to the debate of language and consciousness is irresolute, although many other lines of evidence indicate support for the present argument such as theory of mind research, evolutionary studies and research with autistic individuals.
Such evidence could be discussed in another exposition. However, there are still ubiquitous philosophical disagreements in relation to the nature of conscious experience and until these are resolved it is unlikely a full understanding of the necessity of language in consciousness can be achieved. References Blackmore, S. Consiousness: An Introduction. London: Hodder and Stoughton.
Carruthers, P. Language, Thought and Consciousness: An essay in philosophical psychology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Conscious thinking: language or elimination?
Language, Thought and Consciousness: An Essay in Philosophical Psychology
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Cheng, K. Cognition, 23, Fernyhough, C. London: Granta Publications. Flavell, J. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 2, Frawley, W. London: Harvard University Press. Hermer-Vasquez, L. Language, space, and the development of cognitive flexibility in humans: the case of two spatial memory tasks. Cognition, 79, Kinsbourne, M. Inner Speech and the Inner Life. Brain and Language, 71, McCrone, J. Inner voices, distant memories.
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Why the brain needs language in order to be self- consciousness. New Ideas in Psychology, 28, Oatley, K. Narrative Models of Consciousness and Selfhood. Thompson, eds. Email: jfberger gmail. Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access. Share full text access.
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