Chomsky and cognitive structure

Noam Chomsky argues that mind must have some structure before it knows, and that without this structure it would have a deeply impoverished learning. At the same time, he sees very clearly that this definite structure makes certain things utterly unknowable to us, so much so that we can’t even be sure whether what we know is true (that is, whether it attains to what Kant would call the thing in itself or the Medievals would just call being).

Though I love Chomsky, and am not optimistic about my chances at debating the point with him, it strikes me that this opinion is incoherent. One can’t argue that our cognitive structures give rise to a richer sort of knowledge and that the absence of such a structure would make something and angel, and allow one to know things in themselves.

All Chomsky seems to be saying is that biologicalĀ cognitive structures are richer with structures that exist prior to knowing, which Aristotle would certainly agree with. At the same time, a richer sort of knowledge arises from transcending biology, and the human mind is the first step in this direction.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: