Thought without senses?

Discussion in 'General Philosophy' started by James R, Sep 10, 2002.

  1. James R Just this guy, you know? Staff Member

    Could we think if we had no sensory contact with the outside world?

    Imagine you were in a dark, silent, odorless room and you'd lost all sense of touch and couldn't feel your own body. Would it be possible to think about things?

    Imagine if you'd been born and lived in that room under those conditions. Would any thoughts be possible?
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  3. %BlueSoulRobot% Copyright! Copyright!! Registered Senior Member

    Highly doubt it. We wouldn't have the words to explain our thoughts with, nor anything to look at to think about. I'd expect the victim would feel excruciating insecurity, and probably die very quickly.

    By the way, if the person couldn't sense their own body, how would they eat? Or breathe? Or is it just a mind, separated from its physical body?
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  5. overdoze human Registered Senior Member

    If thought is computation, then without senses where does the input come from?

    If you are deprived of sensory input from the very start, you will never think a single thought. Though I must say that such deprivation is difficult to achieve, since the introspective sense of self is still a form of sensory input. However, even with this caveat your conceptual world would be excruciatingly tiny, and you would hardly have enough information to do anything interesting with.

    On the other hand, if you are deprived of all external sensory input later in life, the introspective feedbacks will take over. Your memories of past experiences will well up and form a dream world around you. Visions and hallucinations are a common side-effect of sensory deprivation.
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  7. %BlueSoulRobot% Copyright! Copyright!! Registered Senior Member

    2,294 that's what sensory deprivation tanks are for!

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    Though I've never tried it, I can imagine the claustrophobia, and the feeling of suffocation due to the water condensation. Hooray.

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  8. Tyler Registered Senior Member

    If I haven't misread (quite possible), I believe Jung talked about this. The fact is that humans have a very basic set of instincts. These instincts can be interputed by our brain in different ways. In the unsconscious mind for example we may represent sex through, say, the chiming of a bell. Poor example, but my point is that even without having ever experienced a sense our thoughts would be our brains interputation of instincts. Language without language; so to, thought without sense.
  9. Cactus Jack Death Knight of Northrend Registered Senior Member


    Hey I'm back, don't know how much I'll be posting but needed to get back into philosophy disscussions again. Anyway thought this link might be useful, I've always been particularly proud of this argument I came up with. Anyway, Peace Out.
  10. machaon Registered Senior Member

    A reply to James R

    Sadly enough there are precedants for this. A friend of mind did some research for a school project on this. It dealt with FERAL children. Of course isolation to the extent you are referring is near impossible, there are cases out there in which children were locked away from birth for years with no human contact and nosensory stimulation aside from the mere basics. Their brains did not develope in a normal fashion. Mabye if you did some research in these areas it would help you to understand better the effects of stimulus deprivation and its effects on the developing brain.
  11. Adam §Þ@ç€ MØnk€¥ Registered Senior Member

    Humans born blind have the same facial expressions as those of us who can see.

    Forest animals flee fires whether they have been burnt before or not.

    Nearly every animal which gives birth knows how to care for its young without having done it before.

    Simply put, experience is not necessary for cognition.

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