Language, Consciousness, Culture: Essays on Mental Structure (Jean Nicod Lectures)

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9780262101196: Language, Consciousness, Culture: Essays on Mental Structure (Jean Nicod Lectures)

An integrative approach to human cognition that encompasses the domains of language, consciousness, action, social cognition, and theory of mind that will foster cross-disciplinary conversation among linguists, philosophers, psycholinguists, neuroscientists, cognitive anthropologists, and evolutionary psychologists.

Ray Jackendoff's Language, Consciousness, Culture represents a breakthrough in developing an integrated theory of human cognition. It will be of interest to a broad spectrum of cognitive scientists, including linguists, philosophers, psycholinguists, neuroscientists, cognitive anthropologists, and evolutionary psychologists.

Jackendoff argues that linguistics has become isolated from the other cognitive sciences at least partly because of the syntax-based architecture assumed by mainstream generative grammar. He proposes an alternative parallel architecture for the language faculty that permits a greater internal integration of the components of language and connects far more naturally to such larger issues in cognitive neuroscience as language processing, the connection of language to vision, and the evolution of language.

Extending this approach beyond the language capacity, Jackendoff proposes sharper criteria for a satisfactory theory of consciousness, examines the structure of complex everyday actions, and investigates the concepts involved in an individual's grasp of society and culture. Each of these domains is used to reflect back on the question of what is unique about human language and what follows from more general properties of the mind.

Language, Consciousness, Culture extends Jackendoff's pioneering theory of conceptual semantics to two of the most important domains of human thought: social cognition and theory of mind. Jackendoff's formal framework allows him to draw new connections among a large variety of literatures and to uncover new distinctions and generalizations not previously recognized. The breadth of the approach will foster cross-disciplinary conversation; the vision is to develop a richer understanding of human nature.

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About the Author:

Ray Jackendoff is Seth Merrin Professor of Philosophy and Codirector of the Center for Cognitive Studies at Tufts University. He is the author of many books, including Foundations of Language.

Review:

Ray Jackendoff may be the deepest and widest-ranging scholar writing on language and mind today. From the technicalities of syntactic theory to the emotional resonance of music, from the logic of social relationships to the nature of consciousness, Ray has consistently offered original, insightful, and substantive analyses of the mysteries of the mind. These essays present his latest illuminations of these fascinating topics, and I recommend them to anyone interested in how the mind works.

(Steven Pinker, Johnstone Professor, Harvard University, and author of The Stuff of Thought: Language as a Window into Human Nature)

Jackendoff combines theoretical rigor with an extraordinary command over the rich complexities of language use and other social activities, yielding deep insights into the cognitive underpinnings of a sweeping range of human behaviors. This book is brimming with new ideas that will reward readers across the cognitive sciences -- computer scientists, linguists, psychologists, social scientists, and philosophers alike.

(Deb Roy, Director, Cognitive Machines, Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, AT&T Career Development Professor, The Media Laboratory, Massachusetts Institute of Technology)

I wish that other linguists, both generative and cognitive, had [Jackendoff's] scope and intellectual ambition.

(George Lakoff American Scientist)

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