Six, thanks for your thoughts. "The discovery is in the dialogue."
you're weaving between words usage
I'm not trying to obtuse, as if by clever use of words I'll gain some advantage. I'd only be fooling myself.
A scientist who studies light or color, has a much more precise view of "red" than most of us, but that is just a matter of him having more information/data about it.
Exactly. A scientist has a more precise and comprehensive definition of "red" that he and his fellow scientists have by concensus agreed to use for the purpose of communication. But have any of them "experienced" red? No, they've only experienced the sensory effect that "red" has on their physical organism, or clinically observed the electro-mechanical affect that "red" produces in their instrumentation. But, what "red" is, no one knows, any more than we "know" what gravity is, or what an electron is. Descriptive ability doesn't constitute "knowing" that which we describe.
Just because he doesn't have language, doesn't mean he doesn't think.
Most epistemologists would disagree. True, there are some cultures that use imagery in a more fundamental way than Western cultures, and to limited extent can substitute imagery for vocalization. But even so, it's still a matter of attaching meaning to a symbol, for without that meaning the symbol communicates nothing.
Language is a part of our organism and no less complicated than it.
Without words to objectify and categorize our sensations and place them in relation to one another, we cannot evolve a tradition of what is real in the world.
As far as the baby understanding our words and behavior:
You can't really believe that, can you?
Like I said, I'm talking here about a new-born baby. Now, the very first time we smile at a baby, what is communicated? Nothing, because the baby has no way of knowing what it "means" when we expose our teeth and raise our cheeks in that manner. After a while, though, he begins to associate that expression with "pleasant" physical results: Momma smiles, and then baby gets food. Daddy smiles, and the baby gets warmed by a blanket, or a hug up against a warm body. After enough of this "conditioning," the baby eventually associates "smile" with a feeling that we verbalize as "I feel good." Now, what would happen if everytime Mommy and Daddy smiled, baby got hit? Or got cold water thrown on him? Then baby would associate a smile with "I feel bad." It's all a matter of conditioning.
It may mean something as simple as "what's that?"... (and yes, for the sake of this discussion, a question is something)
And what objective evidence is there that a new-born baby "questions" anything? Their reaction, I submit, is not the question "what's that?" but rather the awareness of "that is."
however babies with no language say "what's that?
Ahh, the question I'd put back to you then is: Tell me what that "however" is.
But he's not a blank slate, not really.
You're right. For 9 months the baby had been receiving sensory input while still in the womb, and there are very good reasons to assume that there are genetic predispositions that have already started formulating his personality. My analogy does have its limits
Could you define those terms as you'll be using them?
So far, the definitions I gave several posts back seem to be working. It remains to be seen if they hold muster after you review them!
As for that beer...you fly, I'll buy.