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Nativism: Noam Chomsky

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Nativism: Noam Chomsky. Nativism. Main question: what is the cognitive code? Infant is born with complete world knowledge Infants count Infants have a concept of objects Infants have physics concepts Infants have language. Nativism. Evidence for the claim of complete world knowledge

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nativism
Nativism
  • Main question: what is the cognitive code?
  • Infant is born with complete world knowledge
    • Infants count
    • Infants have a concept of objects
    • Infants have physics concepts
    • Infants have language
nativism3
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
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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
Nativism: Learning Paradox
  • Fodor’s 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
nativism6
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
nativism7
Nativism
  • If the child is born with a LAD and no UG, he doesn’t have anything to hypothesize on
  • If the child is born with a UG and no LAD, he cannot hypothesize about the language
nativism8
Nativism
  • The UG is the cognitive code.
    • Unique to humans
    • Universal for humans
  • If one can describe it, one has cracked the cognitive code.
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Nativism
  • Relations between learning and development
    • Only learning (deductive)
    • No development
  • Similar to classical behaviorism
nativism language acquisition device
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
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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
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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
Argument between Piaget and Chomsky
  • CHOMSKY’S POINT:
  • Chomsky: One cannot construct more powerful structures because hypothesis testing cannot take place at a level that is higher than one’s highest level

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

argument between piaget and chomsky14
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 one’s highest level
    • Fodor’s learning paradox

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

piaget rebuttal
Piaget Rebuttal
  • Piaget: I don’t have to accept hypothesis testing as the mechanism for learning
  • I believe children learn and develop through disequilibrium
piaget rebuttal16
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 rebuttal17
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 don’t believe the description you give to language acquisition
nativism modularity
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 theintervening steps that led to that output.

nativism modularity19
Nativism: Modularity

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

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Nativism: Modularity

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

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