José-Luis Mendívil Giró
jlmendi at POSTA.UNIZAR.ES
Mon Apr 28 11:00:56 UTC 1997
On Mon, 21 Apr 1997, Yoko Okita wrote:
> I am not so familiar with generative/functional terminology.
> But I have been wondering about the definition of "innate."
> What does "innate" mean?? Is it biological??
> Do people think any human gene carries linguistic syntactic
and on Mon, 21 Apr 1997 Enrique Figueroa:
>Unfortunately, Many pseudoneoCartesians believe this:
>"Sum, ergo loquor, ergo cogito"
>Some others (dissidents, of course), this:
>"Sum, ergo cogito, ergo loquor"
I think the response is perhaps witty but skeen-deep. A simple question:
why should we consider _unfortunate_ such a belief? Is it (or has been) an
obstacle for Science?
By the other hand: Is syntax a social institution or a conscious,
technological human innovation? If it is not, then it must be a genetic
constraint, independently now if we consider that syntax developped
specifically in natural selection or not.
Even if we accept that syntax (in the sense of a computational system that
relates properly meaning and sound) can be learned, we would need to say
that the device to acquire that system is innate, ergo we can say (in a
provisional abstract sense) that syntax is innate (genetically determined
in our kind).
I believe this is not questionable. The open question is then (as observed
by Bates on Fri, 25 Apr 1997) if the genetic material involved -which
determines the syntactic structure of natural languages- is specifically
_syntactic_ or not, i.e., if the mind is able to create that system using
some more general genetic information. Note that even in that case syntax
should be considered as innate.
So, as Bates said:
>One can reject the strong, domain-specific claims about innateness without
>>being forced to the silly conclusion that nothing is innate
By the other way, if the difference with other species is only quantitative
(as has been said by Bates too) the question is: why humans do not acquire
other's mammals communication systems when in the appropriate context?
Dr. Jose-Luis Mendivil Giro
Universidad de Zaragoza
C/ Pedro Cerbuna, 12
50009 Zaragoza (Spain)
Fax. 34 976761541
Ph. 34 976761000 Ext. 3978
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