What's Within?: Nativism Reconsidered / Edition 1

What's Within?: Nativism Reconsidered / Edition 1

by Fiona Cowie
     
 

ISBN-10: 0195159780

ISBN-13: 9780195159783

Pub. Date: 01/28/2003

Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA

This powerfully iconoclastic book reconsiders the influential nativist position toward the mind. Nativists assert that some concepts, beliefs, or capacities are innate or inborn: "native" to the mind rather than acquired. Fiona Cowie argues that this view is mistaken, demonstrating that nativism is an unstable amalgam of two quite different—and

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Overview

This powerfully iconoclastic book reconsiders the influential nativist position toward the mind. Nativists assert that some concepts, beliefs, or capacities are innate or inborn: "native" to the mind rather than acquired. Fiona Cowie argues that this view is mistaken, demonstrating that nativism is an unstable amalgam of two quite different—and probably inconsistent—theses about the mind.

Unlike empiricists, who postulate domain-neutral learning strategies, nativists insist that some learning tasks require special kinds of skills, and that these skills are hard-wired into our brains at birth. This "faculties hypothesis" finds its modern expression in the views of Noam Chomsky. Cowie, marshaling recent empirical evidence from developmental psychology, psycholinguistics, computer science, and linguistics, provides a crisp and timely critique of Chomsky's nativism and defends in its place a moderately nativist approach to language acquisition.

Also in contrast to empiricists, who view the mind as simply another natural phenomenon susceptible of scientific explanation, nativists suspect that the mental is inelectably mysterious. Cowie addresses this second strand in nativist thought, taking on the view articulated by Jerry Fodor and other nativists that learning, particularly concept acquisition, is a fundamentally inexplicable process. Cowie challenges this explanatory pessimism, and argues convincingly that concept acquisition is psychologically explicable. What's Within? is a clear and provocative achievement in the study of the human mind.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195159783
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
01/28/2003
Series:
Philosophy of Mind Series
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
352
Product dimensions:
6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 0.90(d)

Table of Contents

Pt. IThe Historical Debate
1What Nativism Is Not3
2What Nativism Is: I. The Hypothesis of Special Faculties27
3What Nativism Is: II. The Mystery Hypothesis49
Pt. IIConcept Acquisition: Problem or Mystery?
4The Case Against Empiricism69
5The Constitution Hypothesis91
6Prospects for a Psychology of Concept Acquisition112
Pt. IIIThe Fate of the Faculties Hypothesis
7Language-Learning: From Behaviorism to Nativism151
8The Poverty of the Stimulus176
9The Logical Problem of Language Acquisition204
10The Role of Universal Grammar in Language-Learning238
11Will the Evidence for Linguistic Nativisim Please Stand Up?S
Conclusion309
Bibliography313
Index331

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