The biolinguistic thesis states that language is a biological system internal to an individual of the species Homo sapiens sapiens for generating structured linguistic expressions over a potentially unbounded range; the design of the system is determined by a genetic endowment, external stimuli, and natural laws. With such an expansive scope, the thesis can be thoroughly explored only through interdisciplinary enterprises—the organization of which is the desideratum of the Cambridge Biolinguistics Initiative (CBI). We welcome you to participate in this most exciting endeavor. (Continue this manifesto.)

13 October 2011

Meeting Monday 17th October (5:00PM)

We will be meeting from 5-6pm on Monday 17th October in room SR-14 of the English faculty building (on the second floor), and discussing thee three emailed articles. The first is a short yet insightful passage taken from The Descent of Man in which Darwin considers how language could have evolved, and whether any other organisms exhibit anything at all comparable. We then skip nearly 140 years into the future to Berwick and Chomsky, who outline the biolinguistic approach language from which CBI gets its name. And as a comparison, the final paper is by Chater and Christensen take a very different contemporary perspective, which is nonetheless grounded in Darwinian thought. The session on Monday will take the form of an open discussion, and we'll be considering the relation between these readings. It's therefore worth considering:

- Which aspects of Darwin's approach are now known to be incorrect?

- More interestingly, which apsects are known to be correct?

- Which aspects of his approach are used (if any) in each of the modern proposals?

- Are the modern approaches compatible to any extent, or completely in opposition to each other?

- Which is more plausible?

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