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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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II. Boundary of Modularity. The Case of a Faculty of Social Cognition


Given the gradual nature of this transition from relatively modular to nonmodular, it is impossible to draw a precise boundary on modularity.

Ray Jackendoff174

While I agree that syntactic structure alone is insufficient to explain human linguistic ability, and that human language processing is not accomplished by doing all syntactic analysis first, I do not agree that syntactic structure is therefore a trivial aspect of human linguistic capacity, merely incidental to language processing. […] In studying natural language, one ignores (or denigrates) syntax at the risk of losing some of the most highly structured evidence we have for any cognitive capacity.

Ray Jackendoff175

Ray Jackendoff in Languages of the Mind. Essays on Mental Representation, chapter “Is There a Faculty of Social Cognition”?176 develops argument that mind can be factored into faculties or modules, each specializing in processing a particular form of information, one of them being the hypothesized faculty of social cognition. Its task would be to develop an integrated picture of the self in society: “Whereas the fundamental units of spatial cognition are physical objects in space, those of social cognition are persons in a social interaction. Whereas spatial cognition is concerned with the questions What is it? and is it?, social cognition is concerned with Who is it? and What is this person’s relation to me and others?”177

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