Educating Eve: The 'Language Instinct' Debate

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9780304339082: Educating Eve: The 'Language Instinct' Debate

This is a study which poses questions about the nature of human mental development - does it depend on instinctive structures of thought, or can humans produce new ideas not based on biologically-fixed themes? This book discusses arguments by Steven Pinker, Noam Chomsky and others, in order to support the latter view. Steven Pinker's book "The Language Instinct" maintains that language is heard-wired in our genes. Others argue that this also holds for much of the specific knowledge and understanding expressed in language. When the first human Eve evolved from pre-human apes (it is claimed), her biological inheritance comprised not just a distinctive anatomy, but a rich structure of cognition. Sampson finds that these arguments, some depending on earlier contributions by writers such as Noam Chomsky, rest on false premises, or embody a logical fallacy. His theory is that what mankind inherits genetically is not specific structures of language and understanding, but a very general ability to produce new ideas in response to an unpredictable environment. We are born knowing nothing, but able to learn anything.

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Sampson, Geoffrey
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Geoffrey Sampson
Published by Cassell (1998)
ISBN 10: 0304339083 ISBN 13: 9780304339082
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