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History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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New book from Chomsky on language

September 25th, 2016 · No Comments

http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/37725-noam-chomsky-on-the-evolution-of-language-a-biolinguistic-perspective

Chomsky has a new book on language, a timely response, intended or not, to Wolfe’s The Kingdom of Speech: Why Only Us: Language and Evolution, MIT Press 2016
We have commented multiple times here on this. http://darwiniana.com/?s=chomsky+wolfe

A challenge by such as Everett to Chomsky is long overdue, and yet the basic thrust of Chomsky’s claims remain a major claim on any theory, and the generative grammar nexus is and remains compelling. But Chomsky, despite indirect intimations, never really takes on the reign of darwinism even as his theory breaks out of that paradigm. Chomsky acknowledges as much in his assertions about the rapid emergence of a linguistic faculty (and his assertion that homo sapiens sapiens alone has a faculty of language, which I would agree with, neglects the possibility of an earlier phase in homo erectus), but a direct attack on darwinism should be a part of this argument.

My view is that we are seeing something far more complex and general coming into existence very suddenly and language is only one aspect of this larger transition: one way to consider it would be to see the birth of mind/soul with its submodules of language, primitive ethical reasoning and a factor of will, a very complex instrument of ‘consciousness’, new forms of artistic creativity, and definite connection with what is traditionally called a ‘spiritual world’, the higher material mystery in which man is embedded and resulting in the ‘superstitious ape’ called man who enters the world of the shaman, witchdoctor and spirit guide. Although some of this must be granted by hypothesis to homo erectus, it would seem to have crystallized at a species level with homo sapiens sapiens in the time frame Chomsky indicates, ca. 200K BCE or so.
That is a remarkable indication of a design argument, one the ID folks are curiously unable to exploit, perhaps because of the muddle of religious views. So let us say it outright: a high level creationism, of a scientific brand completely sidelining biblical creationism, becomes an serious hypothesis.
I say this because we have often discussed one such here: J.G.Bennett’s version of the ‘intelligent designer’ called for by the ID folks: the demiurgic powers of nature, entities in the material realm and operating in the focus of ‘will beyond life’. This issue is discussed in the text of Enigma of the Axial Age.

The implication of this view is that some interaction with a designing level must have been involved in something so complicated. Asserted, but not proven. There is another perspective: a developmental teleology in nature that achieves the level of mind in man as a packaged target evolving (or involving, involution?!) from some unknown prior higher structure that we don’t yet find in physics.

http://darwiniana.com/?s=demiurgic+powers

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