Ever since language and learning

afterthoughts on the Piaget-Chomsky debate

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The central arguments and counter-arguments presented by several participants during the debate between Piaget and Chomsky at the Royaumont Abbey in October 1975 are here reconstructed in a particularly concise chronological and "logical" sequence. Once the essential points of this important exchange are thus clearly laid out, it is easy to witness that recent developments in generative grammar, as well as new data on language acquisition, especially in the acquisition of pronouns by the congenitally deaf child, corroborate the "language specificity" thesis defended by Chomsky. By the same token these data and these new theoretical refinements refute the Piagetian hypothesis that language is constructed upon abstractions from sensorimotor schemata. Moreover, in the light of modern evolutionary theory, Piaget's basic assumptions on the biological roots of cognition, l language and learning turn out to be unfounded. In hindsight, all this accrues to the validity of Fodor's seemingly "paradoxical" argument against "learning" as a transition from "less" powerful to "more" powerful conceptual systems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)315-346
Number of pages32
JournalCognition
Volume50
Issue number1-3
DOIs
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes

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Language
Learning
language
learning
Child Language
evolutionary theory
language acquisition
abstraction
witness
Cognition
grammar
cognition
Noam Chomsky
Evolutionary Theory
Language Acquisition
Language Specificity
Generative Grammar
Abbeys
Pronoun
Counterargument

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Linguistics and Language

Cite this

Ever since language and learning : afterthoughts on the Piaget-Chomsky debate. / Piattelli-Palmarini, Massi.

In: Cognition, Vol. 50, No. 1-3, 1994, p. 315-346.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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