• T Clark
    9.7k
    While the concept of instinct is so general as to mean almost anything,Joshs

    That doesn't seem true to me from what he wrote in "The Language Instinct." He quoted William James' "What is an Instinct." James defines instinct as stereotyped behavior which is triggered by specific environmental stimuli, is genetically transmitted, and generally is active only during a limited period of time, after which behavior is influenced by experience. I had never thought much about it before and I found that really helpful. He also quoted Darwin as writing "Human language is an instinctive tendency to acquire an art."

    In other words , there is a ‘rational’ logic of grammar , and this rationality is the product of an innate structure syntactically organizing words into sentences . In this way, Pinker and Chomsky are heirs of Enlightenment Rationalism. Chomsky has said as much himself.Joshs

    I saw very little in "The Language Instinct" that dealt with language as a rational process. I don't see that the fact the grammar is structured is the same as saying it is rational. There was little discussion about the mechanism that generated similar grammars in all human languages. One thing that struck me as unconvincing about Pinker's argument is that he claimed that the underpinning of language is an unconscious language he called "mentalese." I don't see why there needs to be another system of symbols beneath the languages themselves. Certainly my opinion is based on very little except introspection, which is suspect in this situation.

    My quote from Lakoff was intended to show that embodied approaches to language tend to reject Pinker’s claim that innate grammar structures exist. They say there is no language instinct , but rather innate capacities for complex cognition , out of which language emerged in different ways in different cultures.Joshs

    Pinker gives specific explanations and references specific studies to support his positions that made sense to me. I don't know the arguments on the other side in order to be able to judge.
  • T Clark
    9.7k
    I find it hard to understand what the nuances of difference are between 'innate capacities for complex cognition' and an 'innate , and therefore universal , computational module'. Sounds like different language for a similar phenomenon.Tom Storm

    I had a similar response, especially because the sources I referenced focused on mental processes with a limited range, not a full explication of human cognition.

    An innate language module of the Chomskian sort specifies a particular way of organizing grammar prior to and completely independent of social interaction. Lakoff’s innate capacities for cognition do not dictate any particular syntactic or semantic patterns of language. Those are completely determined by interaction.Joshs

    As I wrote in a previous post, Pinker has specific, referenced responses to those criticisms. I don't know the counter-arguments so I have a hard time judging.
  • T Clark
    9.7k
    It understands the language of pictures, in which black pictures refer to unlit events and colourful ones to lit events. Whereas a zombie, however it deals with what it sees, is like the Chinese room in failing to appreciate the reference of symbols (here pictorial) to actual things.bongo fury

    This is a bit of a non-sequitur, so feel free not to respond.

    I have a friend who has no minds eye. She does not see visual mental images. She didn't even realize this herself until she was in her 60s. Next time I talk to her, I ask about what that experience is like.
  • javi2541997
    2.1k
    I have a friend who has no minds eye. She does not see visual mental images. She didn't even realize this herself until she was in her 60s. Next time I talk to her, I ask about what that experience is like.T Clark

    I don’t want to look like a “blab” but this story is so interesting. Please, if you finally ask her what that experience is like I want to know her answer too.
    It amazed me when I read she didn’t realize herself until she was in her sixties!
  • bongo fury
    1.5k
    I have a friend who has no minds eye. She does not see visual mental images.T Clark

    Yes. https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/comment/416251

    Does she see mental images of the things in front of her?
  • Joshs
    3.8k

    I saw very little in "The Language Instinct" that dealt with language as a rational process. I don't see that the fact the grammar is structured is the same as saying it is rationalT Clark

    This is simply the way that ‘rational’ has been used when it comes to framing the debate between innatism and behaviorism.

    “The most important and probably controversial issue in child language studies is concerned with the knowledge a child acquires. Is this acquired knowledge ‘innate’ or ‘empirical’? The answer to this question might be quite different from one perspective to another in language acquisition. Two philosophical traditions with respect to knowledge in general are empiricism (Lock & Hume) and rationalism (Plato & Descartes). ‘Empiricists’ believe that knowledge is solely the product of experience and ‘rationalists’ on the other hand argue that knowledge is part innate and part experience. All approaches to
    language acquisition adhere to one of these positions more or less and consequently there have been various versions of ‘empiricism’ and ‘rationalism’. The corresponding theoretical positions with respect to language acquisition are two extreme positions: Behaviorism and Nativism.”

    (Revisiting First Language Acquisition Through Empirical and Rational Perspectives)
  • T Clark
    9.7k
    Does she see mental images of the things in front of her?bongo fury

    Yes, she sees fine, but her memory and imagination do not include visual images.
  • T Clark
    9.7k
    This is simply the way that ‘rational’ has been used when it comes to framing the debate between innatism and behaviorism.Joshs

    Yes then, Pinker is a "rationalist" in the sense you are describing. He believes "knowledge is part innate and part experience." You don't believe that? You don't believe that there are innate mechanisms that make acquisition of language possible? Doesn't the fact that there is only a limited time in childhood during which people can learn language, indicate there is probably an innate mechanism for learning it?

    What is the source of the quote you provided?
  • T Clark
    9.7k
    It amazed me when I read she didn’t realize herself until she was in her sixties!javi2541997

    I guess if you've never had it, you never know you don't. I'll ask her.
  • Joshs
    3.8k
    What is the source of the quote you provided?T Clark

    It’s in parenthesis at the bottom of the quote.

    Revisiting First Language Acquisition through Empirical and Rational Perspectives.
    Abdorreza Tahriri
    Published 1 July 2012
    Linguistics

    You don't believe that there are innate mechanisms that make acquisition of language possible? Doesn't the fact that there is only a limited time in childhood during which people can learn language, indicate there is probably an innate mechanism for learning it?T Clark

    It’s true that language learning in childhood is more rapid than in adults, and there is a window of opportunity after which certain abilities can no longer be achieved, but the same is true of many perceptual achievements. I think there’s an important difference between claiming that humans are born with general cognitive capacities that allow for conceptual symbolization, and claiming that they are born with structures that precisely dictate the kinds of grammatical
    patterns we use , in an absolutely universal manner. I side with those who explain the cross-cultural commonalities of grammatical structuration ( subject-predicate , etc) as the result of commonalities in embodied interaction with our world, not some innate computational mechanism
  • Alkis Piskas
    1.3k

    The mind is the set of faculties responsible for mental phenomena.
    -- Wikipedia
    T Clark
    I also like to use Wikipedia as a reference. But as it happens with dictionaries too, sometimes they give us circularity. Here, mind -> mental -> mind. Because what you get from any dictionary and from Wiki itself when you look for the term "mental" is "of or relating to the mind"!
    I wonder how these things escape so easily the minds of people who are posting them!
    Anyway, they are also a sign and the result of an inability to understand and define a subject. In this case: mind.

    So, mental processes, mental faculties, mental phenomena - emotion, thought, memory, perception, learning, imagination, instinct, attention, pain, motivation, language, action, decision making, maintaining bodily processes.T Clark
    Main sentence/verb is missing ...

    One mental process I intentionally left off the list is experience/consciousness.T Clark
    Neither experience nor consciousness are mental processes. They are not "phenomena", as the definition, you, yourself, have brought says (Re: "The mind is the set of faculties responsible for mental phenomena.")
    "Experience" has to do with immediate contact with and observation of something. And "consciousness" has to do with a state and an ability to perceive and be responsive to something. Neither of them is a phenomenon. Indeed, the mind is involved in both of them as an intermediate (nouns. It's a communication system between the person and the environment as well as with his own thoughts, feelings, bodily functions, etc.

    Mind and consciousness are two of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted (misexplained) concepts and subjects in philosophy. Maybe the main responsible are Science, and by extension scientists, who insist that they are both bodily "functions", of a purely physical nature. And, although Philosophy, and by extension philosophers, should not be affected and misled by such an unfounded position, an unproved fact, a fallacy, a fiction, a lie, etc. yet it does. This is the power that Science has over us. We take for granted things it says which are out of its jurisdiction. Like mind and consciousness.
  • Joshs
    3.8k
    The big accident was then that a serial constraint on hierarchical motor planning could be turned into a new level of semiotic encoding.apokrisis

    Isn’t the notion of semiotic encoding an atemporal
    concept? Does a code transcribe its pattern identically? And if not , must not the code itself persist self-identically in order for it to function as code?
    If we begin with a pattern, an ensemble of elements organized with a particular relationship one to another, and observe this pattern transform itself as a new whole from one moment to the next such that each new configuration is similar but not identical to the previous pattern ( and each element has also changed its sense and role with respect to the ensemble), can this be considered a semiotic process?
  • apokrisis
    6.2k
    Isn’t the notion of semiotic encoding an atemporal
    concept?
    Joshs

    I don’t follow your questions.

    Sure, a serial code has to be communicated one discrete step at a time. But that is the structural limitation that also allows unlimited combination - chains of symbols as long as you like to stand for some state of meaning.

    So in being physically reduced to a string of informational bits, a state of informational constraint can be constructed that is itself atemporal in its effects. Genes can crank out the same protein at any time of choosing - Pattee’s point about rate independent information, if that was your issue. Likewise, a Shakespeare passage can be delivered at any time or place, and the time it takes to read shouldn’t bear on the actual interpretation.

    But what question are you asking?

    If we begin with a pattern, an ensemble of elements organized with a particular relationship one to another, and observe this pattern transform itself as a new whole from one moment to the next such that each new configuration is similar but not identical to the previous pattern ( and each element has also changed its sense and role with respect to the ensemble), can this be considered a semiotic process?Joshs

    What example do you have in mind here? Chinese whispers?
  • Alkis Piskas
    1.3k

    What is "rubbish"?
    1) The circularity in the definition (Re: "The mind is the set of faculties responsible for mental phenomena") ? Do you really can't see it? But even if you disagree, shouldn't you tell me why?
    2) That the main sentence/verb is missing --Re: "So, mental processes, mental faculties, mental phenomena - emotion, thought, memory, perception, learning, imagination, instinct, attention, pain, motivation, language, action, decision making, maintaining bodily processes."-- and therefore the whole statement or point is invalid or makes no sense? Again, If you disagree, shouldn't you tell me what/where is that sentence and what is actually your statement or point ?
    3) That neither experience nor consciousness are mental processes? Again, if you disagree, after all the explanations I gave you, shouldn't you tell me why?

    Do you really think that choosing to respond to all of the above with just using the word "rubbish", and without providing a single why, makes you a wiser person than me?
  • T Clark
    9.7k
    @apokrisis

    As you suggested, I am reading "The User Illusion." I'll let you know what I think. In the interim, I've just finished reading "A Standard Model of the Mind: Toward a Common Computational Framework Across Artificial Intelligence, Cognitive Science, Neuroscience, and Robotics," included in AI Magazine from 2017. Are you familiar with it? Here's a link:

    https://ojs.aaai.org/index.php/aimagazine/article/view/2744

    The article covers cognition in a way that seems consistent with the way you have been describing it. It is clear, well-written, and interesting. I had never thought about thinking in that way before. I don't want to get into any kind of in-depth discussion now since I don't understand it well enough, but I think I understand the overall approach reasonably well. I have some preliminary thoughts:

    I think calling it a "standard model" with a specific reference to the standard model in physics is a mistake. Not because it is necessarily inaccurate, but because it is presumptuous. It seems to somehow claim that cognitive science is established at the same level as particle physics. I think that will undermine the credibility of the approach to people outside the field. I recognize that is not a substantive criticism.

    The model presented in the article is in no way set up as an alternative to or in contradiction with any other way of looking at mind. It was just a straightforward presentation. That increased it's credibility for me.

    The kind of approach described in the article seems to me to be at a different hierarchical level of organization that that described by Pinker. It focuses on processing rather than human behavior. That's not a criticism. I had never considered the structure of how exactly brain activity becomes the mind. It was eye-opening. Because the approach was at a different level than that described in Pinker, I don't see any obvious contradiction, although the article did say:

    ...the programs and data are ultimately intended to be acquired automatically from experience — that is, learned — rather than programmed, aside from possibly a limited set of innate programs. Cognitive architectures thus induce languages, just as do computer architectures, but they are languages geared toward yielding learnable intelligent behavior, in the form of knowledge and skills.

    And:

    In simple terms, the hypothesis is that intelligent behavior arises from a combination of an implementation of a cognitive architecture plus knowledge and skills. Processing at the higher levels then amounts to sequences of these interactions over time. Even complex cognitive capabilities — such as natural language processing... and planning — are hypothesized to be constructed in such a fashion, rather than existing as distinct modules at higher levels.

    Beyond that, the article had very little to say about language.

    Anyway, really interesting. As I said, I don't think it will be fruitful to go into a lot more detail. I have more reading to do. I would like to know if this article does match the approach you have been presenting.
  • apokrisis
    6.2k
    That paper reads like something out of the 1970s. It is the opposite of a biologically realistic or embodied approach. :down:
  • T Clark
    9.7k
    That paper reads like something out of the 1970s. It is the opposite of a biologically realistic or embodied approachapokrisis

    Alas. I'll keep trying. Thanks.
  • Janus
    12.8k
    I guess if you've never had it, you never know you don't. I'll ask her.T Clark

    Doesn't it depend on what you mean by "mental Image"? I can visualize quite complex structures and maps, but it is not like staring at an actual static picture or map or an actual object. How is it for you?
  • T Clark
    9.7k
    Doesn't it depend on what you mean by "mental Image"? I can visualize quite complex structures and maps, but it is not like staring at an actual static picture or map or an actual object. How is it for you?Janus

    I definitely have a "mind's eye," i.e. I can see visual images unrelated to any current external stimuli. I have visual memories, imagination, insights, concepts... A few times I've had a wonderful experience. Suddenly I'll get a flash of a visual image, e.g. one time I was feeling deeply at peace when from nowhere I got an image of a horse pulling a plow. In five minutes I wrote a poem describing the horse's experience that perfectly expressed how I was feeling. As they say, the poem wrote itself. It's one of my favorite things I've ever written. I have no idea where the horse came from. I don't hang around with horses. I had no recent experience with horses. I'm not a farmer. Magic.

    But no, like you, I don't see detailed images. I generally can't pick out details.
  • bongo fury
    1.5k
    Yes, she sees fine, but her memory and imagination do not include visual images.T Clark

    Also, ask her to describe a route, say out of the house to the nearest post box?

    And what happens if she were to draw (the post box, say) from memory?
  • T Clark
    9.7k
    Also, ask her to describe a route, say out of the house to the nearest post box?

    And what happens if she were to draw (the post box, say) from memory?
    bongo fury

    I don't talk to her often. Next time I do I'll ask.
  • Janus
    12.8k
    :up: Yes like you I do sometimes see actual pictorial type images, but they are fleeting and it's usually when I'm dreaming, half asleep or under the influence of some psychoactive.
1234Next
bold
italic
underline
strike
code
quote
ulist
image
url
mention
reveal
youtube
tweet
Add a Comment

Welcome to The Philosophy Forum!

Get involved in philosophical discussions about knowledge, truth, language, consciousness, science, politics, religion, logic and mathematics, art, history, and lots more. No ads, no clutter, and very little agreement — just fascinating conversations.