Have you ever had a thought you struggled to express? Or not known for sure what you thought about something until you managed to put it into words? The philosophy of language considers, among other things, the interplay between thought and language. This interesting piece from philosopher Eli Alshanestsky explores this idea:
"The thoughts we struggle to articulate might be as momentous as a transformative moral epiphany or as ordinary as an insight into a movie or the hurtful behaviour of a friend. ... They might be thoughts that we long had but never articulated or instantaneous insights in which something entirely new and unfamiliar suddenly comes to mind. In many cases, we articulate these thoughts in order to get clear on what they are; we wouldn’t bother making the effort if they were clear to us already. ... The point of searching for words, in the hard cases, is to clarify what we’re thinking; and the clarity that we’re after seems to consist in the knowledge that we’re thinking some specific thought. At the same time, our choices of words make sense to us, and so it seems that we must make them for a reason. But it is hard to see how we could have a reason to accept or reject any words if we don’t already know which thought we’re trying to express. ... And even if we serendipitously stumble on the right formulation – eg, in the mouth of a friend or on an internet discussion forum – how will we know that it captures what we had in mind? To try to resolve the paradox, one might point out that language functions not only as a medium for expressing thoughts but also as a means for developing them. ... Arriving at an understanding of this process is not just an intellectual exercise but a practical pursuit of trying to uncover the foundation of how we come to know the world and ourselves."
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