Saturday March 9th 2013
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."