The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents

The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents

The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents

The Innate Mind: Structure and Contents


This is the first volume of a projected three-volume set on the subject of innateness. The extent to which the mind is innate is one of the central questions in the human sciences, with important implications for many surrounding debates. By bringing together the top nativist scholars in philosophy, psychology, and allied disciplines these volumes provide a comprehensive assessment of nativist thought and a definitive reference point for future nativist inquiry.

The Innate Mind: Structure and Content,concerns the fundamental architecture of the mind, addressing such question as: What capacities, processes, representations, biases, and connections are innate? How do these innate elements feed into a story about the development of our mature cognitive capacities, and which of them are shared with other members of the animal kingdom? The editors have provided an introduction giving some of the background to debates about innateness and introducing each of the subsequent essays, as well as a consolidated bibliography that will be a valuable reference resource for all those interested in this area. The volume will be of great importance to all researchers and students interested in the fundamental nature and powers of the human mind.

Together, the three volumes in the series will provide the most intensive and richly cross-disciplinary investigation of nativism ever undertaken. They point the way toward a synthesis of nativist work that promises to provide a new understanding of our minds and their place in the natural order.


This is the first book of a projected three volumes to be born out of the three-year interdisciplinary Innateness and the Structure of the Mind project. the project is primarily funded by a grant from the UK's Arts and Humanities Research Board, awarded to Stephen Laurence. the overall aim of the project is to undertake a comprehensive assessment of where nativist theorizing stands now and determine what directions future research should take. Accordingly we have tried to bring together many of the top researchers across the cognitive sciences working within a broadly nativist perspective. We hope that these volumes will illustrate the scope and power of contemporary nativism, and help point the way for future research in cognitive science. This volume discusses the likely overall architecture and some of the probable features of the innate human mind. Subsequent volumes will examine the interactions between innate minds and culture, and will consider a range of foundational issues concerning innateness. They will also attempt to sketch some future directions for nativist inspired research in cognitive science. (For further information, see the project's website at: AHRB-Project).

The topic of nativism lends itself well to cross-disclipinary research—indeed, many of the significant questions in this area can only be adequately addressed through interdisciplinary research. Accordingly, the project has brought together a distinguished international team of more than 75 researchers from across the cognitive sciences to examine a range of themes and issues from a broadly nativist perspective. Participants were brought together in a series of small workshops over the course of a year to exchange ideas and try out new lines of thought, before presenting their draft volume papers at a concluding public conference. in the 2001–2 academic year four workshops were held, one in New Jersey, one in Maryland, and two in Sheffield, with the concluding conference being held in Sheffield in July 2002.

The editors have selected the best, most focused papers from the concluding conference, as well as commissioning some other chapters from those scientists . . .

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