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Re: Chomsky, Syntax, Semantics

From:Thomas R. Wier <artabanos@...>
Date:Thursday, September 16, 1999, 5:22
Ed Heil wrote:

> (receiving its structure from the Principles and > Parameters of the Language Organ, which itself mutated spontaneously > into existence out of nowhere),
Well, whatever we believe on the matter, I think we should give him the benefit of the doubt. I have never heard from him or about him anything to the effect that the Language Organ was a spontaneous development, as if analogously, the eye were to simply pop into existence ex nihilo. Indeed, his arguments about the development of the linguistic faculty in _On Language_ seemed to me to follow fairly noncontroversial claims about evolution. His claim there had little to do with evolution per se (he tacitly assumed that, as far as I can tell, not without reason); what he seemed to be objecting to was that American Structuralists and other schools influenced by Behaviorism assumed that the brain worked fundamentally differently than the rest of the body: why should we assume that, while the rest of the body acts according to genetically predetermined physical traits (or rather, is highly influenced by genetics), the brain itself is a tabula rasa, a blank slate which is wholly, completely the product of external sensory experience? In other words, why can't the brain have inherent, "innate" knowledge? (By this he means mental frameworks into which we put our sensory data.) At any rate, I was reading the New York Times online the other day, and just happened to find the information I was looking for about the evolution of language (I mentioned this to this list, I think). There was an interesting article about a new hominid skull that popped up in some thift shop in New York City, and it has some interesting information about language use (I make no claims about its veracity, however): <> ======================================================= Tom Wier <artabanos@...> ICQ#: 4315704 AIM: Deuterotom Website: <> "Cogito ergo sum, sed credo ergo ero." Denn wo Begriffe fehlen, Da stellt ein Wort zur rechten Zeit sich ein. -- Mephistopheles, in Goethe's _Faust_ ========================================================