9/26/2016

Chomsky Out, Plato Back

Noam Chomsky's theories about the genetic epistemology of language may end up in the dustbin of history even during my lifetime.

A long and detailed article at Scientific American includes this:
In the new usage-based approach (which includes ideas from functional linguistics, cognitive linguistics and construction grammar), children are not born with a universal, dedicated tool for learning grammar. Instead they inherit the mental equivalent of a Swiss Army knife: a set of general-purpose tools—such as categorization, the reading of communicative intentions, and analogy making, with which children build grammatical categories and rules from the language they hear around them.

(Emphasis added.)

Ah, I knew it would come back to analogy some time.

Plato's Theaetetus, please call your office.

Of course if rational discourse is "ratio-nal" it must be analogical.  How else can you explain the verbing of nouns (all the Greats do it!). And how else could children understand the nonsense of If I Ran the Circus? -- I mean, "The Flummox will carry a Lurch in a pail / And a Fibbel will carry the Flummox's tail"?  The soul of man is deeply analogical, and I don't think it's a genetic mutation either.

Plus I never liked Chomsky:  I got the impression he was singularly invested in reducing the human mind to strictly binary operations.

9/12/2016

Now I'm Archie Bunker

The "All in the Family" Archie Bunker.

All of a sudden, as I approach the mark of completing three decades on this planet, I find out that I am the anachronism in the room.

I'm an Archie in a Meathead world.