The thought process of man, supported by physio-biological properties and chemical-electrical activity, is by far the most complex force in the world. Mighty technology and computers pale into insignificance in contrast to the brain of man. The most advanced technology and computers cannot begin to approach the mind-potential of man. Thinking may be considered as “cognition” with symbols. A symbol can be a word, an event or an object, with meaning.
Cognition is more than simply thinking, however – it is also to know, to perceive, to understand. In any event, thinking involves, inevitably, symbolic reference. A symbol is anything that stands for or refers to something other than itself.
The word “auto” is a symbol that refers to a four-wheeled, engine-propelled conveyance. But the symbol is not the auto. Therefore, words are symbols. On the other hand, it is possible to “think” without words. Artists claim that they see in their imagination a picture before lifting a paintbrush. Composers hear music before jotting down a single note.
We can all visualize goals as though they were achieved. So symbols in thought convey meaning. No one has yet discovered why man is the only mammal to develop a written language. Organic study of the new brain (cortex) and old brain of man under a microscope (or not) is no different than many other mammals. Chimpanzees and dolphins have central nervous systems amazingly similar to man’s, as do other species.
The learning of language has permitted man to utilize his thought patterns (processes) to basically learn more about himself and the world (environment) around him.
Words, being symbols with meanings, then release all types of thought, i.e., creative, meditative, emotional, profane, exalted (spiritual), etc. Furthermore, the learning of words (symbols) permits psychological uses for discrimination as well as a generalization. Language then becomes adjunctive to thought.
Linguists tell us that language serves two major functions:
1. Communication, one to another.
2. The system for a response which facilitates both thinking and behavior.
And, to carry this a step further, language is a system that relates sound to meaning. A certain sound can have more meaning than another, using the same word or set of words. Obviously, the thought behind the word propels the sound with meaning. Conceptually this is called the “deep structure” of language. The deep structure is stored in memory. Long before a small child learns to speak he is familiar with objects, toys, food, sounds, and feelings, and has established identification.
With the hand-slapping by a parent and the word “no” when the child reaches for a forbidden object, it can be assumed that the child is learning the meaning of the word. He is learning, for he responds by withdrawing his hand. This is operant conditioning.
Studies show that there is a close relationship between a child’s aptitude for language and his ability to construe and deal with concepts and relationships. (Kuenne, 1946)
The ability to speak and form words develops differently in children from one household to the next, but one thing is clear, the time spent by a mother to help a child learn to talk with the aid of picture books and reading material is time immensely well spent.
Aristotle, the most famous of all Greek philosophers, said that Plato did not understand logic, for he failed “to understand grammar.” Words mean concepts and intentions and they clarify vision. Without a sensitive vocabulary, one is impeded in his efforts to communicate.
With children, problem-solving depends upon a clear use of language to assess the situation or problem. Indeed, the world is separated and conceived differently because of unlike language structures. The record books are filled with disappointed or disillusioned clients who went to a hypnotist who was unaware of the need for correct and adaptable language.
Carelessness with language by a hypnotist, in the presence of a client, can terminate a relationship sooner than any other device.
So let us all understand now that language provides a major source of symbols used in thinking. Language and thought are intimately related, in fact inseparable. A greater need to better understand language the world over is so keenly felt by scientists today that new methodologies are being devised.
Mathematicians, for example, are devising linguistic analysis to clarify language and superimpose scientific means of improving communication internationally, with advanced technology a more scientific developmental process for education is being devised.
Clearly, language is at the root of diplomacy and international affairs.
And just as clearly, with the horrendous possibilities of atomic and hydrogen warfare, better means of international communication must be found if planet earth is to survive. While computers have lifted arduous detail from the minds of man, remember that a computer does not “think.” It can only perform what it has been programmed to do – no more, no less. Only man can think in the exalted realm of imagination and use his creativity and intricate mathematical reasoning for survival. And only man, of the mammalian family, has devised a written language.
From the earliest lesson in relaxation as taught by the hypnotist, one can see how an easier “flow of words” can be elicited – for self-improvement. We hypnotists live in a world of words – our abilities to express ourselves will determine success or failure, productive instruction or mediocrity.