Reading Minds Means Learning Another’s Thought-Language

For PostADay’s March 8th suggestion (“whose mind would you read if you could?”), there is one practical hurdle that one must first clobber before deciphering anyone’s thoughts, which is the deciphering of anyone’s thoughts. Humanity cannot presumptuously believe that, even if mind-reading were feasible, it would come easily to its practitioners. No other skill is simply innate; one must learn and master it, whether it’s civil engineering, journalism, public speaking or even ones that seem to come more naturally, like sketching or singing.

In linguistic studies, the speaker of one language teaches another his or her language. With mind-reading (please, understand that this is utterly hypothetical and in no way reflects my personal beliefs; it’s simply a topic I’m having tons of fun with!) one must meticulously learn every individual’s thought-dialect. I theoretically propose that every being has his, her or its own unique thought-language–just as every being has a distinct genetic code. Two evidences support this.

Firstly, although one might suggest people speaking the same language would have the same thought-language, this notion has one key problem. No human being has the same life journey to produce the same perceptions. For example, one English-speaker might think of a grassy plain, which to him would translate “peace” and “hope,” for that’s where he matured with a loving family. Another English-speaker might translate a grassy plain as “boredom” and “pointless,” for she matured in a city setting and finds peace in high-energy streets and hope in high-class social gatherings.  Even siblings can have varying thought-languages.

Secondly, thoughts are not structured in the same way language is; they are wildly mixed with words, pictures, symbols, memories of smells and touches, unexpected “visitors” (like ideas, fears or pleasures) feelings, prospects and even crime. Structured language, whether on paper or out of one’s mouth, is filtered. If one were to say or write everything he thought, psychiatrists would deem him insane, even if he had an exceptional life and set of accomplishments.

In conclusion, every being possesses a unique dialect of thought, which is founded in past accumulated perceptions, and which is constantly changing. For a pupil to seriously study another being’s dialect of thought, it’s my sincere, radical and impossible conviction that he must become that being. There is no alternative way to fully grasping the absolutely distinct and exclusive fusion of representations, words, memories, etc. that is one’s thought-language. And since becoming another is not only absurd but frightening, the only mind one can at least begin to translate is one’s own.


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