Re: Julian Jaynes
Thu, 19 Jan 95 18:40:40 PDT

Cary Grant wrote:

> 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.

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 as:

1) THAT it got exploited,

2) that it got exploited at a PARTICULAR time or

3) that we fully understand how language/consciousness evolve in children
even 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. Jaynes'
argument would appear then to be based more on Memetics rather than Genetics.

In any case, I've heard of Chomsky's linguistic work but know 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.


Tom Bevington