1. Congratulations on your devotion and your extensive efforts in transcribing all of that.
Thank you. But I had no better choice than to inform you, as you were making the mistake of quoting out of context from the interview.
2. I heard all of that, but if you think his expression of lack of scientific knowledge was LIMITED to the sentence he stated them in, I think you are completely mistaken. Note that he explicitly limits his claims to deductive logic, not empirical observation.
Now, he did not say that he lacked scientific knowledge concerning the quote you reproduced in the previous post. In fact, he was saying just the contrary. He was saying that all he has is "experience", and what he says that he lacked is expertise to advise parents on how to raise their kids
. Concerning the "experience" that he referred to here, it is the experience of himself being a parent! I quote again the relevant part:
Excerpt of interview of Noam Chomsky interviewed by Al Page.
Al Page (interviewer)
: How should parents react with respect to exposing their children to language? Should they expose them to all aspects of language? Or should they just simply let them develop any way they develop?
: I suspect there is little parents can do to change the course of language development. Again let me say I am not speaking about this
from any expertise. I do not have any more expertise than personal experience.
There is nothing in linguistic theory which gives answers to these questions
(End of excerpt)
Note that I have underlined and bolded "these questions
" in Chomsky's reply. The phrase "these questions" unambiguously refers to the questions put to him by the interviewer, and "these questions" concerns how parents ought to raise their kids properly! And for that he denied having expertise.
Note that he explicitly limits his claims to deductive logic, not empirical observation.
Where does he say that explicitly in the interview? Please quote a passage for me, I am interested to know.
As an aside, deductive logic is an essential part of any scientific investigation. First science starts by collecting the facts, and from these facts it infers general principles; like for example in physics we have the law of gravitation and the principle of inertia. And these general principles or laws are used as premises in deductive arguments to derive conclusions, which can be predictive statements and which can in turn be confirmed by further empirical investigations. When these are repeatedly confirmed, the correctness of the general principle inferred is reinforced until it acquires the status of a law. That is called applied science. So deductive logic cannot even be considered as a leverage against science, for without deductive logic, science would be useless as it would not be applied to deal with real problems.
However, what I gather from the words of Chomsky is that he is repeatedly providing the facts throughout the interview. Please, re-read the transcription and pay attention to the underlined and bolded elements of the transcription. If after this, you are still having difficulty with finding the expositions of the facts by Chomsky, then I will reproduce the interview in a subsequent post.
3. Like I said, he said, he claims that: "it can only mean that the concept itself, in all of its richness and complexities, is somehow sitting there, waiting to have a sound associated with it. Now it cannot be quite true but something very much like that is probably true
With that statement he is reiterating the statement that we cannot investigate that which is beyond our nature. All we can do is acknowledge our nature as something innate. Notice that he says: "it can only mean that the concept itself, in all of its richness and complexities, is somehow sitting there, waiting to have a sound associated with it.
" This means that we cannot go beyond recognizing that the concepts are just sitting there,i.e. being innate. For example, as to the questions: "how the concepts just sits there?" or "how do we come to have those innate concepts?", science does not yet answer because it does not yet have the empirical evidence on which to rests its claims. Recall: no facts=no science. An example of the latter is the theory of macro-evolution, which falls into the category of having no facts/empirical evidence whatsoever to back its claims. But as to the claim of the innateness of language , that science has conclusively settled affirmatively. Chomsky's concluding comments is rather enlightening on that: "That’s why, you and I, will have essentially the same concept of table, and the same concept of person, and nation, and all sorts of things; and not complicated things, I mean really simple things like person for instance, or thing. We all have that, even though we all have very limited experience, because basically we started with those concepts.
4. He never really claims that "language" is innate, just the capacity to understand it.
So here, it seems you have concluded that Chomsky is saying that our capacity to understand language is innate. Well, I have never encountered a language which has not been understood by at least some community at some point in time!
What this means is as follows. That which is understood by language is called semantics. Semantics is the meaning of words or sentences, and it is an essential property of language. Syntax is also a property of language. This further means that without language, there would be no semantics, i.e. the understanding of language. So if our capacity to understand language is innate, then that makes language itself innate; for without this innate capacity there would be no language but merely random sequences of characters or sounds or signs which would then not qualify as a language! So, if you took from Chomsky that the capacity to understand language is innate, then it's a good conclusion because this follows from the innateness of language itself. So we are agreeing on this point.
5. Assuming his philosophical speculations are correct, then he is proving the only real point that I was making to begin with, to wit: You must be able to "think," i.e. understand concepts, BEFORE you can learn a language. According to Chomsky, anyone claiming that you are only capable of thinking AFTER you have learned a language would be wrong.
I would say that his scientific claims of the innateness of language are correct and backed by many years of empirical observations and study. Now, the ability to understand concepts and hence the concepts themselves are innate dispositions of the human mind, as has already been proved by thorough scientific research. And without the innateness of this disposition, there would be no language itself. And this means that Language cannot be learned/acquired. And this follows rather beautifully from construing of language as an organ. For example, either we have sight and we see, or one does not have sight and does not see. One does not learn to see, it is an innate disposition for those who were blessed with sight. Now, concerning language, what we learn is how to finely tune this innate disposition to interact with the environment in which one finds himself/herself. An analogy would be a radio or television set. The radio or TV device is already available; what we then do to receive broadcast, is just to turn the knob to seek the correct frequency so that we can receive the news or the tunes. And that would fall under the heading of the purposeful use of this innate capacity which is language, and not under the language acquisition heading.
So your emphasis of the "BEFORE" and "AFTER" in the above quote does not mean anything concrete, which is backed by empirical evidence, but it is just mere speculation and proceed from the ignorance of using the wrong premise that language is not innate.
6. There is much more to "science" than empirical observations, eh?
The question that I had asked, you have not answered! But here you ask me another question! So, I ask another question in turn: can there be scientific investigation without any empirical observation whatsoever? This is what I am interested in finding out from your perspective at present.
Chomsky himself says his "experience" gives him no expertise.
What he was saying actually, was that his thorough experience in the scientific study of linguistics gives him no expertise to advise parents on how to raise their kids. It is understandable that he should mention that, for otherwise he could be prosecuted! Imagine a layperson giving medical or legal advice to other people who are in need! If parents want advice on how to properly raise their kids, they should go to the experts in this field, for example pediatricians or child psychologists. The linguistic expert is not very qualified for this, in my humble opinion. Don't you agree?
And he denies that there are any "scientific" answers to questions pertaining to the origin of language or the mechanisms which enable it.
Not only does he deny it but he even casts doubts as to science being a proper method for investigating such questions! For recall, that beyond the recognition of the innateness of language, we have no insight into origin of language from a scientific perspective! It is much like the Big Bang, science cannot go beyond the Big Bang in its inquiry. Similarly, we can only recognize the innateness of language with science, and that's it. Beyond that it is either pure speculation or a matter of faith in the Creator of all things, also known as God, the Almighty. So, I acknowledge positively this point of yours.