Cognition & Reality

Thursday, 26 August 2010

“Innateness”: Burden Of Proof

Filed under: Uncategorized — drtone @ 10:07 am

As I have already indicated here and here, I view with great skepticism the proposition that our behavioral dispositions, let alone our ideas, result mainly from inherited characteristics encoded in one’s DNA. When I was in graduate school the concept of “innateness”  had gripped cognitive psychology and particularly my subdiscipline, cognitive development. Individuals who remain important, Jerry Fodor and Steve Pinker, among others, following the lead of Noam Chomsky, promoted the bizarre, yet widely accepted belief in the innateness of ideas. Such a belief might have been permitted to Descartes or Leibniz or Kant, who were forced by law and circumstance to believe in a God who can plant ideas in the mind, but it remains an absurdity. That learning takes place in a human life should require no proof and yet that is where the burden presently lies.

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