Psychology: Does the complexity and depth of our language affect the depth and complexity of our thought?

In answer to Quora question: "Psychology: Does the complexity and depth of our language affect the depth and complexity of our thought?"

I think the only tenable answer to your question is "it depends." In particular, it depends on what you mean by "complexity and depth." It also depends on the style of thinking a particular person might have, as well as their innate processing bias and preceptive abilities. Some scenarios:

1) Someone whose thought process is grounded in felt experience and emotional intuition may increase their emotional vocabulary (their ability to describe and define different emotional states in more and more subtle ways) and perceptive faculties, and thereby increase the accuracy and nuance of their thought process. In this case, linguistic facility/complexity would seem to parallel complexity of thought as it intersects with a broadening and increasingly sophisticated perception-cognition loop, but only with respect to felt experiences and intuitive perception.

2) Someone whose primary mode of processing is hyperrational to the exclusion of felt experience and intuitive insight could increase their sophistication of language (vocabulary, structure, etc.) and perhaps have an impact on the specificity of conceptualization, but be completely blind to nuances or subtleties of differentiation and experience (especially nonrational ones). In this case, linguistic facility would seem to have less of a correlation with broad or multifaceted complex thought because the perception-cognition loop is too narrowly focused.

3) Someone with broad and multidimensional experience in a particular field, who is fluid at integrating different modes of interior processing (rational, emotional, somatic, etc.), and has developed complex conceptualization and language around their experiences, but who is chronically overwhelmed by anxiety and depression, may experience a paralysis of complex thought despite their linguistic facility. In this case, disruptive emotions override the potential breadth and nuance of the perception-cognition loop.

4) A monk who has meditated in silence for fifteen years may have insights and experiences that are profoundly complex, abstract, multifaceted and nuanced, but be unable to express them in words at all. In this case, linguistic facility has zero correlation with depth and complexity of thought, and this even despite a narrow focus of perception-cognition.

As you can see...I think it depends on a number of different variables. For me personally, metacognition is essential to what I consider "complexity and depth" of thought, but knowing what "metacognition" means is not.

My 2 cents.


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