History, Evolution, and The Darwin Debate

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 Chomsky at the boundary of the Darwin paradigm

September 26th, 2016 · No Comments

These two passges from the same essay show that Chomsky is a closet postdarwinist and critic of natural selection, as to language, at least, but this is often unclear to students of Chomsky, who is still constrained by the general paradigm, apparently. But in general he is to be congratulated for his view on natural selction…and on Wallace, although the fact that Darwin almost certainly plagiarized Wallace is lost to view, as usual.
Secondly, less understandably, Chomsky expects a single mutation to cause the language phenomenon, a highly implausible stance.

Chomsky’s well-known view is that language must somehow have emerged in a single step as a consequence of just one chance mutation, perhaps when a human ancestor was hit by ‘a strange cosmic ray shower’.
[…]… Chomsky has always agreed with Wallace on this key issue, joining with him in denying that natural selection could possibly explain language, morality or rational thought. The irony is that whereas Wolfe thinks he is fighting Chomsky by defending Wallace, he is actually supporting him. After all, Chomsky regards his own theory of a sudden leap to language as a modern refinement of Wallace’s notion of an unbridgeable gap between animal and human nature.[

Source: The Tom and Noam Show: a Review of Tom Wolfe’s “The Kingdom of Speech”

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