Cognitive Science

“I’m pretty sure that much of what’s wrong with our current cognitive science is its commitment to not considering that there might be innateness without adaptation and that there might be thought without language. Everything changes if you take seriously either or both of these.”

So writes Jerry Fodor in the Oct. 6 edition of “London Review of Books”, reviewing a book by Steven Mithen called “The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind and Body”. Fodor objects to the strict Darwinian notion that human traits survive precisely because they are useful to survival of the species. Fodor seems to have a point. In some ways the Darwinian retrofitting of scenarios which could account for reasons that certain traits could be “Useful Back Then” is as annoying as the Intelligent Design folks’ retrofitting of science to make room for the Big Man In the Sky. Fodor’s quote sums up his point nicely. Maybe music has no inherent use whatsoever in the survival of the human race. Maybe it’s entirely frivolous and beautiful. What a concept.

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