Re: On Gatherer's behaviourist stance

Fri, 11 Sep 1998 15:43:16 -0400 (EDT)

Subject: Re: On Gatherer's behaviourist stance
Date: Fri, 11 Sep 1998 15:43:16 -0400 (EDT)

> Well, I would call this behaviour and communication as well. I fully
> agree. But if I understand correctly, then Derek, Bill(?) and Paul (who
> can be considered to be representative for social psychologists) would
> clearly dismiss this as behaviour, because it is not observable. Or at
> least they would say that it cannot be studied since it cannot be
> observed by physical behaviour.
> Am I summarizing the discussion correctly?

This is a tricky one. Wittgenstein of course, said that there is no
private language, so your 'interior monologue' (as it is sometimes
called) would have to be something that is in principle observable and
comprehensible, except that most of the time you don't exhibit it.

There are some people who suffer from Tourette's Syndrome who seem to
be talking all the time, or at least continually muttering to
themselves and anyone who will listen. Often they make some sense, and
often not (perhaps more often not). Now whether the Tourette's
monologue is representative of hidden interior monologues, I don't
know. I think that we might need a real Wittgensteinian to comment on
private languages as well (are you listening John???)

If there was a society where people always voiced their interior
monologues, then that would have to count as verbal behaviour in my
scheme of things. But in our 'norm' where interior monologues are
actually interior, and Tourette's syndrome is considered a disease, it
is a different situation.

Having said that, I find the experience of thinking in a foreign
language to be quite different to the interior monologue in English. I
don't have an interior monologue in Spanish, but neither do I think in
English and translate. The words just seem to come out. This is just
my subjective impression.

I think that Steven Pinker makes a good case against the idea that we
'think in' language (in The Language Instinct), so I'd be inclined to
the view that unvoiced language is behaviour.

But, as you say, unmeasureable.


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