what is the difference between speaking aloud vs to oneself

I read somewhere that Wittgenstein asked this question to his seminar class once. I presume that he meant not the physical difference, which is obvious, but the phenomenological difference. Can we point to anything going on in the mind that distinguishes the two?

My opinion: there is no difference between speaking out loud and speaking to oneself, except that the mind knows how to distinguish between the two. It is as though there were two identical balls, but each one had a sign pasted on it which says “I am not the other ball”. There is no basis for distinguishing the two in substance or any precise attribute; they are only different because the mind slaps two different labels on them, depending on their physical origin. One comes directly from our brain circuits, while the other comes from sound through the aural nerves to the brain circuits. The brain distinguishes them based on where they started, then slaps labels on them which make the two phenomena distinct.

What do you think?

they both start at the brain, it is pretty obvious that what you say starts as a thought, you just don’t signal your mouth to speak everything you’re thinking.

I guess I was thinking more of what you hear internally in each case. You’re certainly right, they both start as thoughts…

Hmmm… I mean you can certainly choose to “hear”/analyze your own thoughts much in the same way as if you speak those same thoughts aloud.

Also, it is not necessary to fully think of exactly what you are going to say before you say it… hence the proverbial “think before you speak.” It seems to be possible to almost directly channel ones stream of consciousness into speech without much of a filter. Of course the basis of what is spoken comes from more fundamental, images, “passing” thoughts, incomplete thoughts, etc… speech usually comes out more structured and thus somewhat more logical and analyzed then thought itself.

Is this what you were driving at?

You can speak without thinking, but not talk to oneself without thinking.

I would be interested to know if it is the Tractatus Wittgenstein who asked such a question, or the Philosophical Investigations Wittgenstein.

It seems to me that Wittgenstein was somewhat of an empiricist in his correspondance theory of knowledge (and language), and this would bring me to a few points of interest in trying to answer his question. (Beyond the initial curiosity I’ve already stated above.)

For one, I’d rack my brain to remember the writings of good ol’ Searl, as well as those philosophers who would call themselves, Thomsitic Dualists, (like Elenore Stump.) What exactly is a thought made of? When we come to a conclusion about this, then we can begin to ponder over what consciousness is! (See Searls handling of this problem) Although, to be fair, consciousness doesn’t necessarily have to be involved in a discussion about the nature of a thought.

In either case, once we agree on what consciousness is, then we can begin to ask ourselves if there are differences between its manifestation through physical actions, (such as speaking) and merely experiencing it for what it is, (as I would claim “Talking to Oneself” would be an instance of!)

I am of course assuming an internal discourse, or realization of conscousness. Not at all am I reffering to the verbal articulation of a thought with the individual doing the articulating being the sole benefactor of the action. Without further information on the context of Wittgensteins question, I think my assumption is fair.

Nice topic!!!

To summerize:

For us to begin to answer this question, we should consider the following:

  1. What is a thought?
  2. What is consciousness?
  3. Is experiencing counsciousness the same if we’re hearing it, reading it, thinking it (whatever that means), or simply bumping up against another conscious being, (like, a hot blonde in the local bar!)

To conclude:

Does our experience of counsciousness have any more validity to us than our experience of the hot blonde in the bar on Saturday night, or of our experience of the stars in the sky?

I speak out loud to myself. I also answer

How do you know that you’re the one speaking, or answering?

As for my first question about Wittgenstein, I guess he wrote his Tractatus when he was away at war, so, it must be the latter Wittgenstein who would have posed this question to his students!

I think you need to define thinking here.

Agreed, if thinking is defined as any activity occuring within the brain; it is not possible to do anything without thinking.

If you are referring specifically to conscious thought, I would say that it is possible to speak out loud without thinking. I’m not very good at things such as carpentry, or putting stuff together, so people often point out that I speak each individual step out loud as I am doing it without, “thinking,” about it.

When I talk to myself I’m assured of an intelligent conversation.

That’s about the only difference I can think of right now.

Diogenes notes that Pyrrho would frequently continue to talk until he finished his thoughts long after any listener was gone. Once he was found talking to himself when no one could have been around. He was then asked the reason, to which he replied, “I am studying how to be good.”

Thomistic Dualism? I can’t really find anything about this online. Would you happen to have any online reads or suggest any books which would be good for a quick run down?

All I have to do is ask myself. And Someoneisatthedoor stole my line LOL

You’ll have to forgive me for a few of my mispellings, (Searle and Eleanor)

My point was that, we need to consider a possible solution of the mind / body philosophical problem (as well as a good metaphysic) before attempting to answer Wittgensteins question.

I listed two popular views, Searles, and a view I reffered to as “Thomistic Dualism,.” I suppose it is a more common subset of an overall, “Non Cartesian Dualism,” of sorts. Usually people who would adhere to some form of Thomas Aquinas solution to the mind/body problem would label themselves as Thomists (at least as far as the mind/body distinction is concerned.)

I chose these two as examples, because I was trying to be as fair as I could in my proposition. I consider Searle to be on the cutting edge of the problem today from a more Atheistic materialism point of view, where as people like Ms. Stump, and maybe J.P. Moreland, (I know, I know…) represent a more cutting edge theistic view of the problem.

Aditionally, for a more Atheistic / materialistic view of this problem, I think Richard Rorty has done some great work with the Disappearance form of the Mind-Body Identity Thesis. See his article in “The Review of Metaphysics XIX”, pg 24.

For a more Christian perspective, specifically a Reformed perspective, see Greg Bahnsens article, “The Mind/Body problem in Biblical Perspective.”

When I talk out loud to myself it is a double check to make sure what I think sounds right and is right. Adding the hearing sense to thoughts helps to stablize them for me. Especially if what I am doing is crucial. It also quiets the half a thousand other thoughts rummaging through my brain like old ladies at a garage sale. :laughing:

I think a strictly internal dialogue can be done much quicker because you don´t need to dwell on words so much, or perhaps don´t even need to utter them (in you mind) to get the same message/feeling to a higher conscious state.

When speaking aloud you´re more rigidly controlled by the words. themselves, like putting them done on paper. You´re (/the sound is) jumping in and out, instead of staying in, so perhaps the brain does react slightly differently to it; separating the self more perhaps?

It seems fairly clear to me:

The action itself is the same: one speaks. The action does not change based on the situation. Merely the nature of the action changes because of interpretation: a person speaking to themselves uses thoughts as a referent and thus the words themselves can be meaningless as the thoughts are the context; in talking with someone else the context shifts to a communal understanding and thus the language adopts the form of shared understanding (or fails to be understood, and the speaking is just noise coming out of one person as another).

I like hearing myself where others don’t.