Philosophy Dictionary of Arguments

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Terrence W. Deacon on Chomsky - Dictionary of Arguments

I 35
Chomsky/Deacon: his theory is reminiscent of evolutionary theory by assuming "hopeful monsters": random mutations that produce new abilities. For example, children's ability to acquire the grammar of the grammar they learned first. Explanation/Chomsky: this can only be explained if we adopt a "universal grammar" that is built into all human brains as a blueprint.
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I 36
Such a "language organ" could explain why no other species has developed a language. It would also explain why there are no intermediate stages between human and non-human language.
Other advantages: such a thesis explains why human and non-human communication are not similar,
it explains the systematically independent nature of grammatical rules (they are all derived from the neurological interconnection of the brain),
it explains the allegedly universal characteristics of language structures,
it explains the reciprocal translatability of languages,
it explains the ease of language acquisition with lean input and lack of error correction.
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I 37
DeaconVsChomsky/DeaconVsUniversal grammar: many linguists ask the wrong question: they expect something (the child's ability to learn) and ask how it comes about. The assumption of a universal grammar serves as a placeholder for everything that cannot be learned.
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I 38
To say that only the human brain is able to produce a grammar, takes the problem from the linguists' hands and passes it on to the neurobiologists.
Chomsky/Deacon: however, he is not concerned with the emergence of language, but with explaining the origin of language competence.


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Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments
The note [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.

Dea I
T. W. Deacon
The Symbolic Species: The Co-evolution of language and the Brain New York 1998

Dea II
Terrence W. Deacon
Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter New York 2013


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Ed. Martin Schulz, access date 2021-05-13
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