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The Extended Mind

The Extended Mind: The Emergence of Language, the Human Mind, and Culture

  • Book Info
    The Extended Mind
    Book Description:

    InThe Extended Mind, Robert K. Logan examines the origin, emergence, and co-evolution of language, the human mind, and culture.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-8491-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-2)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 3-12)

    The origin and evolution of human language is one of the great mysteries confronting contemporary scholarship and science. A problem-centred rather than a discipline-centred study, it is not a subject that can be addressed by one discipline but rather requires the input from a host of fields including linguistics, computational linguistics, psycholinguistics, evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology, primatology, cultural anthropology, archaeology, physiology, phonology, neurophysiology, cognitive science, and media ecology. I must confess to the reader that I am not an expert in any of these fields with the exception of the last one, through my study of the evolution of notated...

  4. Part 1: On the Origin and Evolution of Language

    • 1 The History of the Study of the Origin of Language
      (pp. 15-22)

      The study of the origin of language has a fascinating history. In the nineteenth century, because of the dearth of data and a lack of a theoretical framework, all attempts to explain the origin of language were highly speculative and of little scientific value. The work that was presented became so arbitrary that the Linguistic Society of Paris, one of the most renowned linguistic societies of its day, banned, in 1866, the presentation of any papers that dealt with the origins of language. Linguists in the twentieth century, with the exception of a few neo-Darwinians, were quite content to describe...

  5. Part 2: The Extended Mind Model

    • 2 The Evolution of Notated Language
      (pp. 25-40)

      The computer and the Internet are the most recent techniques for organizing human thought in a long series of techniques and technologies, beginning with speech, for communicating, storing, retrieving, organizing, and processing information. The series includes spoken language, pictures, tallies, clay tokens, picture writing, logographic (pictographic or ideographic) writing, syllabaries, the alphabet, abstract numbers, numerals, mathematical signs (+, -, ×, =), the concept of zero, geometry, mathematics, logic, abstract science, maps, graphs, charts, libraries, the printing press, encyclopedia, dictionaries, bookkeeping techniques, the scientific method, photography, the telegraph, the telephone, cinema, radio, audio recording, television, video recording, optical disks, computers, control...

    • 3 The Extended Mind Model of the Origin of Language
      (pp. 41-57)

      The model of the evolution of notated language presented in chapter 2 started with spoken language as a given and showed how writing, mathematics, science, computing, and the Internet emerged in turn from speech. This approach gives rise to the question: How did the first form of language, speech, from which the other languages evolved, arise in the first place? It is from this consideration that I became interested in the origin of language problem and literature. My earlier work with the evolution of notated language was based on the premise that a new form of language evolved in response...

    • 4 A Grand Unification Theory of Human Thought and Culture
      (pp. 58-68)

      The three percept-based preverbal proto-languages identified in the last chapter gave rise to more than just spoken language and conceptual thinking. Transformed by verbal language and concept making that followed in their wake, they also served as the prototypes for three fundamental activities that form the core of modern human society, namely, technology which emerged from toolmaking; commerce which emerged from social organization and intelligence; and the art forms which emerged from mimetic communication. ‘There is a vestigial mimetic culture embedded within our modern culture and a mimetic mind embedded within the overall architecture of the modern human mind’ (Donald...

  6. Part 3: Comparison and Synthesis of Other Approaches to the Origin of Language

    • [PART 3 Introduction]
      (pp. 69-72)

      Although the emergence of language is a pluri-disciplinary field, my approach is a bit unusual in that I start with an analysis of notated language, and I employ the techniques of media ecology and exploit ideas from complexity theory and chaotics. In order to tie my ideas to the mainstream of those who study the origin of language, I have carefully studied the literature, attended conferences on the subject, and collaborated with a few researchers in the field. In what follows I would like to compare the different approaches one finds in the literature to my own. In reading the...

    • 5 How Universal Is Universal Grammar? Chomsky’s Generative Grammar
      (pp. 73-89)

      Even though Chomsky is a sceptic when it comes to trying to understand the origin of language in evolutionary terms, his work must be evaluated because of his dominance of the field of linguistics for the past half century. One cannot ignore his contribution when comparing different explanations of the origin of language, especially as the field divides rather neatly into Chomsky supporters and Chomsky detractors. Many members of the anti-Chomsky camp do not attempt to discredit the main thrust of Chomsky’s work in describing the Universal Grammar (UG), but rather they are critical of some of his more extreme...

    • 6 Is the Primary Function of Language Social Communication or the Representation of Abstract Thought?
      (pp. 90-113)

      Most linguists (Pinker and Bloom 1990; Barton 1996; Barton and Dunbar 1997; Byrne 1995; Byrne and Whiten 1988; Cheney and Seyfarth 1990; Dessalles 1998; Dunbar 1992, 1998; Jackendoff 2002; Knight 1998b; Locke 1998; Power 1998; Sawaguchi and Kudo 1990; Worden 1998) cite social communication as the principle function of language and believe it was this purpose that motivated the origin of speech. ‘I assume that language arose primarily in the interest of enhancing communication, and only secondarily in the interest of enhancing thought’ (Jackendoff 2002, 236).

      There are those (Bickerton 1998; Ulbaek 1998), however, who hold that the principle function...

    • 7 What Are the Mechanisms That Led to Spoken Language?
      (pp. 114-127)

      There are a number of mechanisms, physical and cognitive, that make spoken language possible and without which language as we know it would not have emerged. These mechanisms include:

      1 Vocalization (the ability to make sounds)

      2 Phonemic articulation (the ability to enunciate a full range of phonemes necessary for speech)

      3 Phonemic generativity (the ability to combine phonemes to phonically create potentially an infinite number of words)

      4 Syntax (the ability to combine words to create potentially an infinite number of propositions)

      5 A theory of the mind (an understanding that there are other sentient beings who can understand...

    • 8 Ontogeny and Language
      (pp. 128-161)

      One of the mysteries of language, aside from how it originated, is the ease with which it is acquired by young children. It is truly miraculous how children do not need to be taught how to speak. All that is required is that they be exposed to a language and within two or three years they are masters of that language. They acquire both the syntax and the complete vocabulary of commonly used words. If while they are young they are exposed to two or possibly three languages, they will learn each of these languages and speak them without an...

    • 9 Phylogeny or the Evolutionary History of Language
      (pp. 162-202)

      In this chapter we will focus on Tinbergen’s fourth ‘why,’ namely, the evolutionary history of language. This discussion will entail a recapitulation of some of the points we covered when we addressed the first three ‘why’s’ of function, mechanism, and ontogeny. We will review a number of approaches and identify areas of contention where the different models clash in significant ways. We will attempt to resolve some of these issues within the linguistic community by making use of the Extended Mind Model for the evolution of notated language, as was presented in chapter 3. The major issues to be addressed...

  7. Part 4: The Synthesis of the Extended Mind Model with Other Approaches

    • 10 The Synthesis of Five Approaches to the Origin of Language
      (pp. 207-222)

      I enter into this exercise of synthesis with some trepidation because I am appropriating the work of others into my Extended Mind Model, perhaps making use of Clark’s (1997, 45) sense of scaffolding is a better way of putting it. This is the nature of the scientific enterprise, however, and I believe it is intellectually honest to make my appropriation of the ideas of others explicit. I offer my apologies in advance for any inaccuracies that I might make and hope the authors will set me straight if I misrepresent them in this work in progress. I will begin by...

    • 11 Overlaps of the Extended Mind Model with the Work of Clark, Jackendoff, and Schumann
      (pp. 223-238)

      In chapter 10, we developed a synthesis of the Extended Mind Model with the work of Christiansen (1994), Deacon (1997), Donald (1991), and Tomasello (1999) because of my perception of an overlap of our approaches. In this chapter, I wish to consider in greater detail the ideas of Andy Clark (1997), Ray Jackendoff (2002), and John Schumann (2003), whose ideas have helped me extend my hypothesis.

      I did not encounter Andy Clark’s marvelous bookBeing There(1997) or his (co-authored) article ‘The Extended Mind’ (Clark and Chalmers 1998) until 2004, long after I developed almost all of the ideas in...

  8. Part 5: The Co-evolution of Culture:: Language and Altruism and the Emergence of Universal Culture

    • 12 The Co-evolution of Culture and Language
      (pp. 241-251)

      In chapter 9 we considered the question: Was the evolution of language strictly a genetic phenomenon or did it include cultural evolution or memetics as well? We discovered that both Donald (1991, 2001) and Tomasello (1999) have developed models for the emergence of language in which culture plays a dominant role and that Christiansen (1994) and Deacon (1997) have developed models in which language itself evolves and is affected by cultural phenomena.

      There is no doubt that culture has influenced the origin and development of language, but it is also true that language is an essential component of culture. I...

    • 13 Altruism and the Origin of Language and Culture
      (pp. 252-263)

      In the last chapter we began to explore the relationship between culture, language, and cooperation or altruism. There is a strong connection between altruism and the origin of language. I am supported in this by Ingar Brinck and Peter Gärdenfors, who claim ‘that the pressure for future-directed co-operation was a major force behind the evolution of language’ (2003, 484). This position flies in the face, however, of those who make the contra-claim that altruism could not have arisen according to standard Darwinian thinking. The argument made goes something like this: An altruistic individual who helps another conspecific is helping someone...

    • 14 Culture as an Organism and the Emergence of Universal Culture
      (pp. 264-286)

      In this chapter we will examine the possibility that culture, like language, evolved as an organism that was easy for the human mind to grasp and, as a result, gave rise to Universal Culture just as language evolved in such a way as to give rise to Universal Grammar. Because culture is essentially symbolic – a set of ideas, beliefs, and knowledge, its acquisition by the human mind (like with language) must be simple and straightforward if it is to be transmitted and, hence, survive. It is therefore logical to posit that culture like language evolved in such a way as...

  9. Epilogue: The Propagating Organization of Language and Culture
    (pp. 287-292)

    After completing the manuscript of this book but before it went to press I had the good fortune to work on the problem of the nature of information in biotic systems with a team headed by Stuart Kauffman that included Robert Este, Randy Goebel, Ilya Shmulevich, and David Hobill (in press). I would like to report on the findings of our study, Propagating Organization: An Enquiry (hereafter referred to as POE), as it sheds additional light on the nature of language and culture. I will also add a few new thoughts on the way language and culture propagate their organization....

  10. References
    (pp. 293-312)
  11. Index
    (pp. 313-320)