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Grammar and Glamour of Cooperation

Lectures on the Philosophy of Mind, Language and Action


Szymon Wrobel

This book is a collection of essays, weaving together cognitive psychology, psycho-linguistics, developmental psychology, modern philosophy and behavioural sciences. It raises the question: how does grammar relate to our remarkable ability to cooperate for future needs? The author investigates the interconnections between the mechanisms governing cooperation and reciprocal altruism on the one hand and the capacity to generate an infinite range of expressions from a finite set of syntactically structured elements on the other. Based on these premises, the specific character of cognitive explanations, possible architectures of mind, non-formal grammar and tacit knowledge are explored. Furthermore the author deals with the role of conceptual representations in explaining grammar, the modular structure of mind and the evolutionary origins of human language ability and moral authority.
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III. The Concept of Linguistic Intelligence and Beyond


Only in terms of gestures as significant symbols is the existence of mind or intelligence possible; for only in terms of gestures which are significant symbols can thinking – which is simply an internalized or implicit conversation of the individual with himself by means of such gestures – take place.

George Herbert Mead80

Comparative work has generally focused on animal communication or the capacity to acquire a human-created language. If, however, one entertains the hypothesis that recursion evolved to solve other computational problems such as navigation, number quantification, or social relationships, then it is possible that other animals have such abilities, but our research efforts have been targeted at an overly narrow search space. If we find evidence for recursion in animals, but in a non-communicative domain, then we are more likely to pinpoint the mechanisms underlying this ability and the selective pressures that led to it. This discovery, in turn, would open the door to another suite of puzzles: Why did humans, but no other animal, take the power of recursion to create an open-ended and limitless system of communication? Why does our system of recursion operate over a broader range of elements or inputs (e.g., numbers, words) than other animals?

Marc D. Hauser, Noam Chomsky, W. Tecumseh Fitch81

A century ago the French psychologist Alfred Binet was asked by the Ministry of Education to help determine who would experience difficulty in school. Proceeding in an empirical manner, Binet posed many questions to...

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