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Nativism: Noam Chomsky

Nativism

Main question: what is the cognitive code? Infant is born with complete world knowledge

Infants Infants Infants Infants

count have a concept of objects have physics concepts have language

Nativism

Evidence for the claim of complete world knowledge

Youngsters learn an extremely complex system (language) effortlessly Youngsters learn an extremely complex system (language) in a short amount of time Youngsters do not need instruction to learn their mother tongue

Nativism

Do youngsters who are born deaf can learn an impoverished language at a level that is higher than the level they hear? Youngsters develop Creole from pidgin Infants do not hear grammar; they hear a string of words and infer the syntactic rules language (impoverishment of the stimulus) Infants often hear ungrammatical sentences, yet they learn the grammar

Nativism: Learning Paradox

Fodors learning paradox: one learns something only if one knows it in advance To learn a language you have to know that language in advance What you know is at a higher level than what you learn

Nativism

In the case of language, infants are born with:

a universal grammar (UG) - a data base of grammar language acquisition device (LAD) hypothesis tester

Nativism

If the child is born with a LAD and no UG, he doesnt have anything to hypothesize on If the child is born with a UG and no LAD, he cannot hypothesize about the language

Nativism

The UG is the cognitive code.


Unique to humans Universal for humans

If one can describe it, one has cracked the cognitive code.

Nativism

Relations between learning and development


Only learning (deductive) No development

Similar to classical behaviorism

Nativism: Language Acquisition Device

hypothesize the grammar in the language you are exposed to see if the hypothesis fits the grammar if yes, continue with the hypothesis if no, make a new hypothesis

Nativism

If that is how children learn language, it is impossible, in principle, to develop to a higher level

How can you hypothesize something that is not already there?

Nativists say you cannot

Nativism

As a consequence, it is best to build the most powerful system so that it is there in infancy

Argument between Piaget and Chomsky

CHOMSKYS POINT: Chomsky: One cannot construct more powerful structures because hypothesis testing cannot take place at a level that is higher than ones highest level e.g., conservation: a child cannot hypothesize conservation if he is at the intuitive stage

Argument between Piaget and Chomsky

Chomsky: One cannot construct more powerful structures because hypothesis testing cannot take place at a level that is higher than ones highest level

Fodors learning paradox

e.g., conservation: a child cannot hypothesize conservation if he is at the intuitive stage

Piaget Rebuttal

Piaget: I dont have to accept hypothesis testing as the mechanism for learning I believe children learn and develop through disequilibrium

Piaget Rebuttal

I can describe learning and development in


Child development (ontogeny) History of disciplines (Piaget & Garcia; Kuhn)

My system allows me to describe two disparate developments: ontogeny and historical development

Piaget Rebuttal

You, the nativists cannot describe the development of disciplines in history in terms of innate modules within humans Bottom line:

I can describe two developments and you can describe one I dont believe the description you give to language acquisition

Nativism: Modularity
1. Encapsulation - it is impossible to interfere with the inner workings of a module. 2. Unconscious - it is difficult or impossible to reflect on the operations of module. 3. Speed - modules are very fast. 4. Shallow outputs - modules provide limited output, without information about the intervening steps that led to that output.

Nativism: Modularity
5. Obligatory firing - modules operate reflexively, providing predetermined outputs for predetermined inputs regardless of the context. 6. Ontogenetic universals - modules develop in a characteristic sequence. 7. Localization - modules are mediated by dedicated neural systems.

Nativism: Modularity
8. Pathological universals - modules breakdown in characteristic fashion following insult to the system. 9. Domain specificity - as discussed above.