Modularity and Constraints in Language and Cognition

By Megan R. Gunnar; Michael Maratsos | Go to book overview

6
The Logical and Extrinsic Sources of Modularity

Thomas Bever University of Rochester


MODULARITY AND LANGUAGE

For a number of years, researchers on language behavior have believed that it involves the interaction of different kinds of partially autonomous systems of general and specific knowledge. That is, language is a modality, a natural kind of mental organization. The differentiation of such modalities as language, vision, taste, is pre-theoretically satisfying, but requires scientific explanation. How is it that they coalesce and emerge? How does the child know that aspects of his or her early experience are interrelated together and which motor patterns are related to them?

There are corresponding questions about the organization of information within a modality. For example, successful language behavior involves the appropriate interaction of systems of phonology, syntax, semantics, discourse, pragmatics, and world knowledge. Fodor ( 1983) sketched one proposal on the laws governing mental traffic between such systems. He crystallized a modern form of the old doctrine of "specific energy" of sensory systems, now coined, "modularity." Fodor's specific proposal is articulated and discussed elsewhere in this book. Certain intuitively appealing and widely believed aspects of this proposal are important for this discussion: Modules are architecturally segregated, that is, their internal processes cannot be mutually influenced; modules are neurologically distinct and reflect devoted innate neurological predispositions; modules utilize processes and forms of memory unique to each, that is, principles of "general cognition" either do not exist or exist

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Modularity and Constraints in Language and Cognition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface ix
  • 1 - Constraints, Modules, and Domain Specificity: An Introduction 1
  • References 23
  • 2 - Modularity and Constraints in Early Lexical Acquisition: Evidence from Children's Early Language and Gesture 25
  • References 55
  • 3 - Constraints on Word Learning: Speculations About Their Nature, Origins, and Domain Specificity 59
  • Acknowledgments 95
  • References 96
  • 4 - The Origins of an Autonomous Biology 103
  • Acknowledgments 135
  • Acknowledgments 135
  • 5 - Language, Affect, and Social Order 139
  • Appendix 172
  • Acknowledgments 176
  • References 176
  • 6 - The Logical and Extrinsic Sources of Modularity 179
  • References 209
  • 7 - Beyond Modules 213
  • 8 - What Do Developmental Psychologists Really Want? 221
  • References 231
  • Author Index 233
  • Subject Index 239
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