For some reason, I think it’s hilarious that language, which many people consider to be the symbol of humanness, is considered as evolutionary “noise” by others. I am still not sure of the difference between noise (as defined in Week 7a paper) and emergence. Is emergence just a type of noise?The most interesting part of this paper (where I sympathise more with Chomsky and Gould) was when they argue that physical laws are just as ludicrous an explanation for language as Chomsky alleges natural selection is. Language as a necessary physical consequence of brain growth or whatever need not be true and is quite unlikely. Regarding the claim that being able to share knowledge is critical to human survival, I agree, but is it not also true that being able to share words is bad for human survival? Many-a-tribe has, I imagine, killed other tribes through simply persuasion. And lest it be thought that the “group” is the “tribe”, then sons have murdered fathers, brothers have murdered sisters, lovers have murdered parents, and a whole other host of Shakesperean tragedies have occurred simply through the power of being able to share knowledge. At what level are words promoting human survival, and at what level are they eliminating it?
Focusing on section 3:The first statement I would like to respond to is “Of course there are vast dissimilarities but the mere fact that terms like "language," "syntax," "predicate," "argument," and "statement" have clear meanings when applied to artificial systems, with no confusion or qualification, suggests that there are nonaccidental parallels that are reminiscent of the talk of diaphragms and lenses when applied to cameras and eyes.” I feel as if we have no real choice, of course artificial grammars have to be constructed using our natural language. To do otherwise I believe is impossible, there is a limit to what we can do with our human brains; we are stuck with the tools we have available. Therefore, to make such an argument is largely unproductive. Response: Yes, what you’ve just said is exactly what Pinker and Bloom were trying to argue: language is all encompassing and therefore designed and not a just-so story. Finally, what do they mean by “…natural languages are hopeless for this function [mentalese]: they are needlessly serial” This is probably just nit-picking but it seems to me that any language natural or artificial will operate on symbols and manipulate them in relation to one another. In order to do so then language must be linear or serial. Relations have to be represented in a non circular manner in order to the different types of relations to be distinguished from one-another.