Talons Philosophy

An Open Online Highschool Philosophy Course


Cognition and Language – Personal Theory of Knowledge

Proposition: All our knowledge starts with the senses, cognitive thinking proceeds, and knowledge is the conclusion of such cognitive thoughts.  Language, however, has handicapped the process of acquiring knowledge.  Through the application of language in cognitive thinking, knowledge is lost, or not to be had, due to the imperfections of the human-made tool to express.  Due to such applications, knowledge is an imperfect bi-product.

Syllogism: If language is imperfect, and cognitive thinking utilizes language, then knowledge is imperfect.

  1. Language is imperfect
  2. Cognitive thinking utilizes language
  3. Knowledge with the utilization of language is imperfect then

Observations: History shows that as time has gone and language, knowledge, and information has progressed as time has, so has the advancement of humankind has progressed.


Definition of Language: Communication of thoughts and feelings through a system of arbitrary signals, such as voice sounds, gestures, or written symbols.

Definition of Cognitive Thinking: The application of following critical skills: Attention, Working Memory, Processing Speed, Long-Term Memory, Visual Processing, Auditory Processing, and Logic and Reasoning. All definitions of prior terms can be found through the link.

Language is imperfect

To express the imperfections of language I will bring up a scenario.  Were I`d like you to indulge yourself into the scenario.

Two humans come together. One human, John Smith, has been set with the goal of describing his lizard, Emily, to Robert Doe, where Robert Doe has to procure an exact image of Emily and her nuances using only language. Interaction has occurred and Robert has an image of Emily, but is it Emily really. Language can`t describe the sensory experience from feeling the texture of Emily`s skin. John might go about using a simile “like touching sand paper”, however, that is not an exact representation of Emily`s skin. Language describes sensory experiences through similes and metaphors to get a sense, but only a sense, and not an exact replication. The inability to describe senses, has put a crack in the dam that is language, and therefore renders it imperfect.

The image at the bottom shows the interpretation of the distribution of knowledge between two conscious entities. It shows that you can`t distribute a whole thought, from one entity to another, and that a general thought has been passed to be interpreted.

Cognitive thinking utilizes language


The Pirahã are an indigenous people, numbering around 700, living along the banks of the Maici River in the jungle of northwest Brazil. 

To looking into cognitive thinking utilizing language, instead of creating a scenario I am going to look into one regarding an indigenous people, were their lacking of numbers affect their cognitive thoughts.

The Pirahã are an indigenous people that speak Pirahã, a language consisting of a 12,000-word piece based on just eight consonants and three vowels.  Among Pirahã’s many peculiarities is an almost complete lack of numeracy, an extremely rare linguistic trait of which there are only a few documented cases. The language contains no words at all for discrete numbers and only three that approximate some notion of quantity—hói, a “small size or amount,” hoí, a “somewhat larger size or amount,” and baágiso, which can mean either to “cause to come together” or “a bunch.”

With no way to express exact integers, the obvious question is: How do the Pirahã count? More pragmatically, how do they ask for two of something instead of just one?  Answer – They don`t.

For a test, lay down on a table, a line of evenly spaced items, say batteries, and the Pirahã were asked to make a second line just like the first. For another, a line of items were shown and then hidden from view. Again, they would be asked to procure a second line just like the first. In both cases, no mistakes were made as long as the lines were just two or three items long. But the proportion of correct responses generally drops significantly for numbers exceeding 2 or 3. This was true for all tasks, including a non-visual test that involved clapping. English speakers, on the other hand, make no errors at all, except when a relatively long line of items, say seven or more, is shown quickly and then hidden. We can only count so fast, after all, but the Pirahã appear not to be counting at all—because, well, how could they? Instead, they’re employing an “analog estimation strategy,” which works well for a few items but breaks down beyond that.

Through the experiments done, from the link, you can see how language has affected the knowledge of a people and how they have stunted cognitive thoughts.

Knowledge with the utilization of language is imperfect then

Using math 1+2=3 the logical argument proposed is both valid and factually correct, therefore it`s sound.

After the conclusion of my theory regarding Cognition and Language, I have come to believe that if the genetic code can be broken down into a language applicable to humans, we can take a step to furthering knowledge. To support this theory and bring understanding to it I will reiterate a previous blog post of mine.

In the genetic model, the environment is paradoxically all-important. The information in the genes cannot express itself in bodily structures unless they are in a complexly specified suitable environment–so much so that 99% of the information for building an organism may be thought of as located in the environment and only 1% in the genes themselves (the proportion is not strictly quantifiable). The environment acts as a trigger for selective gene transcription, which in turn has an effect upon the immediate environment. As the information in the gene expresses itself in response to the structure of the environment, and the environment in turn responds to the action of the genes, the organism slowly begins to materialize. It is as if matter itself contains most of the information for life.
In terms of cognitive development, this means that genetic and environmental information act concurrently to construct cognitive structures. Some of the environmental information that activates certain genes may come through the senses; for instance, cats are unable to perceive vertical lines if they are not exposed to them before a certain age, and children who have not heard a language before the age of ten will no longer retain the capacity to acquire one. More complex scenarios with intermediate control structures are also possible, as an alternative to a continued role for the genes.



One Response to Cognition and Language – Personal Theory of Knowledge

  1. Thad says:

    The bond between cognition and language is indeed a creative and inspiring idea. Other than the tremendous structure of the article, I found your example of indigenous language intrigued me as well. It’s so true that despite of same structure of physical aspect, human beings have a variety of approach to acquire the identical “knowledge”, which has a trend to be biased base on the arguments. So just a small concern after reading your post, if language were truly influencing “knowledge” to an imperfect stage, then how do we communicate “effectively”?


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