Episode Sixty-Seven - Did The Gods Wake Up One Day To Create The Universe?

  • I think we agree that language developed over time and is not inborn but learned, possibly beginning in utero.

    Chomsky and others believe the structures of language and deep grammar are hardwired.

    Babies will also babble every known phoneme before weeding out the ones not needed for their culture's specific manifestation of language.

    Much as I enjoy discussing the birds and beavers, I think we're over-generalizing Lucretius's analogy. I think he's really only just using the analogy of building a structure - without a blueprint/plan/exemplum you can't build the structure *if you're a human or god (the analog of a human)* Nature on the other hand has no need of a plan because the whole of the cosmos is unplanned. Atoms come together. Atoms come apart. Various things arise. Various things don't arise. There is no plan... But isn't it grand that we, birds, and beavers exist and that we can take pleasure in our and their existence.

  • Chomsky and others believe the structures of language and deep grammar are hardwired.

    This goes to the question "what are the prolepseis?" This is actually where I've been going with this and maybe it belongs in another thread.

    I interpret this quote as referring to a faculty of "pattern recognition" with which we learn language. In my quote in post #21 I was referring to Lucretius' description of the development of language (hopefully I'm remembering it correctly). Could it be that that process of developing language is another function of pattern recognition?

  • There's an interesting idea called the Romulus and Remus Hypothesis which suggests that modern human language could only have been developed by children: "pre-modern humans would not have been able to learn recursive language as adults, and, therefore, would not be able to teach recursive language to their own children." The author suggests that humans have a brief window to develop the ability to convey spatial relations through speech (i.e. prepositions), so ... two kids 70 millennia ago made the first joke and ... here we are.


  • That observation that children learn language so much more easily than adults almost certainly has to be true. I didn't read the full article but did see this:

    Maybe he's talking loosely there in referring to "mental images" but does this relate to our recent discussions about whether the mind stores pictures into memory?

    Probably along the way of things to try to flesh out, the "memory" issue is also a big one, along with the question of what is stored (whether it's pictures, or something we simply perceive as pictures, or something else).