Re: Julian Jaynes
Thu, 19 Jan 95 17:54:25 PDT

> I read this book too some years ago, and found it very thought provoking,
> but I was bothered by a few things.
> All those are irrelevant now, though, because in the book, somewhere, he
> writes explicitly that for his theory to be correct it must be the case
> that human language was aquired very recently, on the order of only
> thousands of years, less than ten thousand, if I remember correctly. But
> it is now widely believed, in fact scientifically proven (after the work
> of Chomsky and others) that our language capacity is hard wired in to our
> brains. We have, in fact, a language organ in our brains which switches
> on early and absorbs language in a profound way. In other words it is
> something which evolved biologically under natural selection, and
> therefore has been around for a very long time. Thus, by Jaynes's own
> admission, his theory cannot be correct.
> Greg Grant

It's true Jaynes believes language is a necessary pre-requisite for
consciousness as we think of it today. This is interesting and I'm
inclined to think true, but because we may have a pre-wired
capacity for language is not the same thing to say 1) that it got exploited
2) that it got exploited at a particulary time or 3) that we fully
understand how language/consciousness evolve in children today.

Jaynes points out that a modern child if magically teleported back 3,000 to
4,000 years ago would grow up bicameral while a child from that era
if teleported to today and raised would grow up conscious.

In any case, I've heard of Chomsky's linguistic work but no absolutely
nothing about it. Could you provide me further information on Chomsky's
(or others') scientific proof(s) that language capacity is
hard-wired into our brains.

I'm trying to interest Prof. Jaynes in sharing his current ideas/thoughts via
the internet but alas he had never heard of it. He said he'd have his Secy
look into the matter so let's keep our fingers crossed.