Without language, knowledge only exists in the consciousness of individuals.
Many of the worlds most incredible accomplishments technologically, scientifically and even environmentally are due to the binding of ideas and application of individuals useful skills. Without communicating, without language, we would not have a way to express our thoughts and aptitudes, or even be able to comprehend them in our own minds. If we did not know the language we know, what would the voice in our head sound like?
Premise 1: Defining language
Before I get too deep into this philosophical proposition, I need to define a few things.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary tells us that language is “the system of words or signs that people use to express thoughts and feelings to each other.” Language, though used mostly to explain the different words people across the world use to speak, refers to any form of communication or expression. Without this form of contact, we would not be able to know what anyone was thinking clearly; only through facial expressions or primal grunts.
Premise 2: Defining knowledge
Knowledge refers to the “information, understanding, or skill that you get from experience or education.” according to Merriam-Webster. When we incorporate this along side language, it allows us to convey this to those around us. Knowledge and ideas are formed by multiple different concepts being bonded into new concepts. How would we be able to have knowledge, outside of our own minds, without language? and that question brings me to my next definition.
Premise 3: Individual consciousness
The consciousness of an individual does not necessarily have or need a dictionary definition. To me, it means the voices and ideas you come up with in your own mind, and that is how you shall see it while reading this post.
Premise 4: WHY knowledge cannot exist without language / communication
How do we explain the voices in our heads if we have no way to speak? We gesture. How do we understand what someone means when they gesture without the externally spread knowledge of what they mean? How are we supposed to know that other people mean one thing when they make a certain face, when to us it means something entirely different? What the heck does the voice in our head sound like if there was no language? All of these questions are virtually unanswerable. If I didn’t speak english and you didn’t know words were even a thing, I couldn’t even convey this information to you. It wouldn’t even be a problem because language would be irrelevant and non existent.
This is such a struggle to understand, I know, and you may point out how there are people who can in fact communicate without their voices, but that language was created by people who have language. They were able to work together and say, ‘hey, these people should be able to tell us what they need too.” because of their ability to voice their opinions through language. It has always been a part of us, but what if it was never there? How different would the world be!? I wouldn’t be Claire and you wouldn’t speak English because you wouldn’t speak at all. You’re reading these words on this page like its so normal but imagine if I couldn’t explain this to you and I couldn’t tell you why the sky is blue or what I think of Philosophy or how cool Jackson’s beard is? We would not evolve as a society, technologically, mentally, environmentally – all intelligence would be lost until somebody created language.