Saturday, 6 July 2013

Memes and the inner voice

The invention of speech was a fantastic boon to memes, leading directly to writing, the modern era and its revolutionizing of the biosphere. As well as leading to external dialog, speech led to an internal monologue - which is the topic of this post.

Many modern humans constantly talk to themselves. Some seems to be usefully rehearsing future conversations, while some is devoted to imaginary arguments and analysis. Some seems to be humans applying meme therapy to themselves - with affirmations and the like. Others seems to be the product of fear, paranoia, depression and self-punishment. Some of it is cached thoughts. Some is prayers and mantras. Some of it is advertising jungles, pop songs and political slogans - memes and their psychological productions.

The chatter is continuous - and for many it is hard to shut off. Often years of training in meditation is required before people can shut off their internal voices at will.

It's not easy to imagine the human brain was like before language colonized many of the brain's areas of higher function. Perhaps there were 'pre-speech' mental languages, which we now find difficult to imagine. Or perhaps there were just more non-verbal thoughts.

Speech represents a programming language for the mind. It's Turing complete and can express practically anything. It seems likely that speech radically revolutionized the internal organization of the human mind. Certainly language profoundly affects thought.


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