Filmed during Mind & Life Institute’s “Mind & Life XXX: Perception, Concepts, and Self” on December 15, 2015.


Language and Mind: How the Languages We Speak Shape the Ways We Think
SPEAKER: Lera Boroditsky

Humans communicate with one another using 7,000 or so different languages, and each language differs from the next in innumerable ways. Do people who speak different languages think differently? Do languages merely express thoughts, or do they secretly shape the very thoughts we wish to express? Are some thoughts unthinkable without language? The question of whether the languages we speak shape the ways we think has been at the center of controversy for centuries, and with good reason. At stake are basic questions all of us have about ourselves, human nature, and reality. Why do we think the way we do? Why does the world appear to us the way it does? Are we able to directly perceive reality? Boroditsky discusses research conducted around the world and focus on how language shapes the way we think about color, space, time, causality, and agency. Language is a uniquely human gift. The study of language provides a peek at the very nature of human nature. As we understand how languages and their speakers differ from one another, we discover how we ourselves think, why we think that way, and why the world appears to us the way it does. Coming to understand linguistic and cognitive diversity reveals to us the ingenuity of the human mind, invites us to consider the perspectives of others and dares us to imagine how we ourselves could think differently.

MODERATOR: Carol Worthman

INTERPRETER: Thupten Jinpa

PANELISTS:
His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama
Richard J. Davidson
John Dunne
Jay Garfield
Roshi Joan Halifax
Wendy Hasenkamp
Bryce Johnson
Catharine Kerr
Tenzin Lhadron
Geshe Lhakdor
Thabkhe Lodroe
Geshe Dadul Namgyal
Werner Nater
Geshe Lobsang Tenzin Negi
Vasudevi Reddy
Matthieu Ricard
Yangsi Rinpoche
Pawan Sinha
Professor Geshe Yeshe Thabke
Khenpo Sonam Tsewang
David Vago
Christy Wilson-Mendenhall

Participants


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