An English In Kentucky


















Saturday March 9th 2013    Tim Candler


   This is what Chomsky said about language in the 1950's.  If you had something like a baby Hedgehog and a baby member of my own species, and both of them were untrammeled by physical  impairment, and you put them in a room together, then subjected them through their early years to language, the baby human would learn to use language, but the baby Hedgehog would not.  Humans he argued have a language device, something a Hedgehog does not.  The challenge, Chomsky decided was to work out what that language device might be, how it works, where it might reside, what it's limits might be, what role it plays in the processes and structures of thinking, and in what ways might that language device have separated  our species from both other creatures and from sensibleness.

    Chomsky would also argue that both baby Humans and baby Hedgehogs are capable of what the logical call 'inductive reasoning,'  which is the ability to produce, "the odds are that if I do X then Y is  likely to happen."  Inductive reasoning enjoys the possibilities and is sometimes nervous around them.  But it's cousin, referred to as 'deductive reasoning,' is a capacity of people, not Hedgehogs.  Deductive reasoning, abhors the uncertainty of inductive mental process, it sneers at doubt and becomes lofty when the word gamble arises. "If I do X then Y will certainly happen." 


 Previous    Next