Download PDF by Royal Institute of Philosophy (auth.): Knowledge and Necessity

By Royal Institute of Philosophy (auth.)

ISBN-10: 0333105567

ISBN-13: 9780333105566

ISBN-10: 0333105583

ISBN-13: 9780333105580

ISBN-10: 1349862053

ISBN-13: 9781349862054

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Hume in effect agrees with Chomsky that in order to account for the output we must ascribe principles of induction to people; and there seems no reason why, as an empiricist, he should not allow other innate principles of 'human nature' to be similarly attributable. What his empiricism forbids hirn to allow is that such principles should be innately known to be true; they are at most beliefs, and the output also, therefore, is belief, not knowledge. To the extent that Chomsky treats his ascription of these principles as a matter of psychology, interpreting it in terms of some general psychological concept such as mental structure, his position on this matter differs from Hume's only in degree, that is, only on the question of how many and what principles are needed to account for the output.

The price paid for regarding all ideas, even empirical ones, as innate in this recessive sense is that innateness is no longer, as in the dominant doctrine, a mark of Innate ldeas 11 acceptability; on the contrary, Descartes's list of innate ideas in the passage quoted significantly includes ideas of sound and colour, which he (like Locke after hirn) regards as defective, because they represent things only as they appear to be, not as they really are. In other words, the mind's contribution to the causal process in which, through experience, it interacts with the external world renders its ideas innate but at the expense of making them subjective.

For what we know when we know a language has such a rich and complex structure that the data we are exposed to in learning a language would be logically inadequate to generate that knowledge without the aid ofstrong innate principles. I t is in being part of a theory of language learning tha t Chomsky' s doctrine of innate ideas is most decisively distinguished from the rationalist doctrine he claims to inherit. The distinction has two connected aspects, and both are related to the fact that the classical doctrine, in its chief exponents, Plato, Descartes, and Leibniz, has no particular connection with linguistics.

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Knowledge and Necessity by Royal Institute of Philosophy (auth.)


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