Talking to Ourselves

Salinas17 at Salinas17 at
Tue May 1 13:48:12 UTC 2007

In a message dated 5/1/07 12:56:44 AM, amnfn at writes:
<<when we correct our own speech directed at ourselves or our dog, is it 
always just a question of "internalizing collective reproach"?>> 

Aya - I think Paul was making an analogy.  He wasn't saying "conscience" was 
making us correct our speech. 

<< if we find we negated the wrong clause or used a word that doesn't at all 
mean what we intended, isn't that type of self-correction just a question of 
clarifying our own thoughts? In that case, it would be the message we are 
correcting, without regard to the approval or disapproval of an internalized 
hearer. >>

Well, any kind of correction or self-correction -- including clarifying our 
own thoughts -- needs something against which to evaluate correctness.  And, 
yes, this internal judge can disregard how other listeners might understand us.  
But how does that judge know what's clarifying or what muddying?  What 
experience or know-how makes her qualified?

And don't we accept the value of peer-review when we talk to ourselves?  
Isn't there value in another ear?  Couldn't we be a little lax in evaluating 
ourselves since no one else is listening?

Also, isn't there a difference between "approval or disapproval" in a 
listener and comprehension or lack of it?  Can we talk to ourselves and not 
understand?  Or would that be a clinical condition?

Over with the AI folk, there's some sentiment that our normal day-to-day 
language -- like English -- is a poor way to talk to ourselves.  It carries too 
much baggage designed to aid communication with others that should be 
unnecessary when we talk to ourselves.

See C. Fields, Why do we talk to ourselves?, Journal of Experimental & 
Theoretical Artificial Intelligence, October 2002 , pages 255 - 272.
"When stripped of its everyday familiarity, the virtually constant inner 
dialogue experienced by virtually everyone presents a mystery: why do we use 
language to communicate to ourselves. When examined from a design perspective in 
light of currently plausible cognitive neuroscience, language seems highly 
non-optimal as an internal communication medium... "

Steve Long

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