Abstract thoughts – Thinking in terms of things, not language

abstract thoughts

What’s up people! Ready for some abstract thinking? First a little update on Bembalyfe.

I have finally found out what I want to do in my life. And that thing starts now! I have been thinking a lot about what I want to do and tried a number of different things but nothing has really “clicked” into place. That is, until now.

My girlfriend and I started this Bembalyfe thing almost a year ago as a travel website. Things didn’t really go as we’d planned and now we’re changing course, kind of completely. Lotta started her own blog in a Finnish portal so that she can do just the right things for her. You can check it out HERE if you are interested.

So, I got to continue what we started. But it needed to change, and the change is this: Visual Journeys & Complex Thoughts. This is what I came up with and what I want to do.

I’m still gonna do videos for my YouTube channel but not only travel videos. I want to do more meaningful and artistic content.

And I want to write more blog posts about my thoughts because my mind is racing most of the time so there is plenty of that. I also figured that it might be interesting for some people to talk about thinking instead of just travel information, pictures and videos that in the end don’t give that much to anybody. And there are also just too many people doing it right now so I myself got uninterested in the topic.

Thinking without language?

Okay, let’s start this thing. What do I mean with thinking without language? Let me explain a little bit of my childhood to give you a better understanding of where this thought originally came from.

I was born into a Swedish speaking family in Finland. If you didn’t know, Finland is a bilingual country, about 5% of the population speaks Swedish as their native language. So I went to a Swedish speaking school and we spoke Swedish at home.
Things started to change tho, when I was about 10 or so, I started hanging out more with Finnish speaking kids.
We also studied Finnish in school and I got a hang of the language pretty easy.

So when I was about 15 years old and very confident of starting to choose my own path in life I started to speak Finnish at home also. I figured that if we live in a country where over 90% of the people speak this other language, I don’t have the best chances to succeed here if I don’t speak it. My mom was not that thrilled about this change but she accepted it anyway. For me, it was just a natural step in learning stuff and I didn’t think that much about it for some years.

Then when I was about 20 years old some of my new friends asked me: What language do you think in if you study in Swedish but hang out with Finnish speaking people. For me, this was a very weird question and I did not have an answer right away. I thought about it for some time and the way I saw it, was: I don’t really think in language, it’s more like, I think about things.

Examples

Someone tells me “this one car is red”. For me it is just super clear in my mind, I see a picture of a red car. I don’t here any language in my head. And when I say it myself to someone, my mind uses the language that the surrounding people uses, as a tool, to describe the picture in my head. The same picture of the red car stays in my mind even if the language would change. For some time in my life, I thought that everybody thinks that way. Now when I’m a bit older I have realized, that is not the case. Many people think through their own language.

And so, in the age of Google, I had to get some more information about this stuff. Turns out there are people who think like me and it’s called abstract thinking. Things are not that simple tho. Abstract thinking is a kind of simple thinking. With language thinking it is possible to do more complex thinking than to just think of objects because everything in life is not objective.

For example, when thinking about theories and concepts it is basically impossible to think in an abstract way. There are tho exceptions to this too. Some studies suggest that there are deaf people that don’t use language when they think because they cannot speak and have never learned any language. They still think and manage to live. This is something that is very interesting to me. There was a story about a man who had been deaf his whole life and later learned a language and he recalls the time like this.

He remembered thinking:

“that perhaps the moon would strike me, and I thought that perhaps my parents were strong, and would fight the moon, and it would fail, and I mocked the moon.”
-DEAF BOY before learning any language

It surely is a different kind of thinking that leads to different thought when not using language. I found one sentence on a website that explained this whole thing pretty nicely for me. It’s this one:

“We may be able to think without language, but language lets us know that we are thinking.” -ARIKA OKRENT

I don’t know if it is better or worse to think this way I do a lot of the times. One thing that I know for sure is that it has helped me to learn other languages easier. I’m 32 years old now and I feel like writing in English is the easiest for me at the moment.

How did that happen? Probably because at some point in my 20’s I started to watch and read most of the content I consumed in English. And now it just somehow feels like the easiest one. Can’t wait to see what happens in the next 15 years if I will learn a new language or not. Chinese would probably be the next thing in terms of progress because it is the most spoken language in the world. Only time will tell.

I hope there was at least some complexity in these thoughts.

Note: I use Finnish as my main language with friends and at home. I consume most media content in English and I never stopped talking Swedish either. I still have some friends with whom I speak Swedish and I also went to a University of Applied Science that was in Swedish.

Do you have any similar thoughts about this? Would love to hear some.

Thanks

-Michael

Any thoughts? Comment what you think!