Thursday, May 16, 2013

Noam Chomsky's book "New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind"

An interesting passage from Noam Chomsky's book "New Horizons in the Study of Language and Mind," published in 2000

Pp 120, 121

He talks about the computational procedure in language having no counters:
"The computational procedure has properties that may be unique to it, in substantial part. It is also "austere", with no access to many of the properties of other cognitive systems. For example, it seems to have no "counters". It registers adjacency; thus every other syllable could have some property (say, stress). But it cannot use the notion three. There are no known phonological systems in which something happens every third syllable, for example; and syntax seems to observe a property of "structure dependence", unable to make use of linear and arithmetical properties that are much simpler to implement outside the language faculty."

Page 161
"It has very recently been discovered that while insects seem marvelously adapted to particular kinds of flowering plants, in fact insects achieved virtually their present diversity and structure millions of years before flowering plants existed. When they appeared, 'there was already waiting for them an encyclopedia of solutions waiting for the problems to be solved,' Richard Lewontin (1990) points out intending to stress the meaninglessness of these intuitive categories for biology."

Page 163
"Darwin firmly denied that he attributed 'the modification of species exclusively to natural selection', emphasizing in the last edition of Origin of Species that 'in the first edition of this work, and subsequently, I placed in a most conspicuous position – namely, at the close of the Introduction – the following words: 'I am convinced that natural selection has been the main but not the exclusive means of modification.' This has been of no avail. Great is the power of steady misrepresentation' (cited in Gould 1982). Darwin took explicit note of a range of possibilities including nonadaptive modification and unselected functions determined from structure." 

No comments:

Visit my Homepage