Saturday, February 27, 2010
When I was an undergraduate (at an institution where senior faculty warmly spoke of their former teacher and colleague, 'Noam') and a graduate student (where a class on philosophy of mind meant reading Jerry Fodor's unpublished manuscripts--I warmly recall debating whether 'DOORKNOB' is innate!) Chomsky ruled. (The upside of this is that the language of thought could be relied upon to make fun of Wittgensteinians.) But is this still the case? An article in my local newspaper referred me to a paper by Nicholas Evans and Stephen C. Levinson, "The myth of language universals: Language diversity and its importance for cognitive science," (Behavioral and Brain Sciences (2009), 32:429-448), which looks as if it contradicts most of Chomsky's claims about language. What's the state of play in philosophy of language/mind? Does Chomsky still rule?