The notion that your ability to think may be limited in some ways by your vocabulary isn’t new. If you do not know the concept of “subway” you won’t be likely to conceive of one without direct experience. It is difficult for a young child to understand abstract philosophical concepts, also any culture whose language does not include sufficiently rich and abstract language to convey those ideas. You can’t talk about immanentization of the eschaton via smoke signals or a fourth grade vocabulary.
When someone asks me “what are you thinking?” I am rarely able to give them a coherent answer, and I think I realized why. My thoughts, especially the past few years, are increasingly abstract, non-verbal thoughts. I’m not thinking in terms of language or pictures, but abstractions, ideas. They’re just up there spinning around, colliding, reshaping. I would call them higher-order thoughts if I knew that’s what they were, but I’m unsure of that. It’s just how things are.
Once in a while, when I want to understand (i.e., be cognizant of) some of my own thoughts, I have to think for a while and try to describe in writing these things floating around in concrete terms that still reflect what they are. Bringing these abstractions into concrete language is an intensive and laborious process that requires much energy and time. It’s also a “lossy” process, meaning that what comes out of my mouth or off of my fingers in writing is not really as things are, but only a linguistic approximation. The exercise of getting the language symbols right (which is what the exercise of converting from abstract to concrete is all about) is enormously challenging.
It’s like trying to summarize or condense a rich book. You can give the plot, you can describe a little about a character, or you can restate the central thesis, but the book (assuming it is a good book) is the only correct expressive representation of itself. You lose too much in the summary. Taking the things out of their original context you also lose important meaning such that the original meaning is gone or altered. In other words, the original expressive medium itself has meaning beyond the words. No plot or character summary will ever convey the meaning hidden and intuited by the expressive form itself.
Ever try to describe a piece of music without using music? How about describing dance without motion? Or show someone a painting without drawing? The expressive form itself carries the weight of the work and any translation to a different medium will always be lossy.
The point is that when someone asks me what I’m thinking, it’s going to take a while, possibly weeks to freeze what’s going on up in the attic and try to verbalize it. So please stop asking, or understand that it’s going to take some time. It delights me to share what I’m thinking but only after I’m able to verbalize it in some form. And even then, please understand it’s only an approximation of what I’m really thinking.