Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Language, mind, practice: Families of recursive thinking in human reasoning
by Josephson, Marika, Ph.D., New School University, 2011, 293; 3495826
Abstract (Summary)

In 2002, Chomsky, Hauser, and Fitch asserted that recursion may be the one aspect of the human language faculty that makes human language unique in the narrow sense—unique to language and unique to human beings. They also argue somewhat more quietly (as do Pinker and Jackendoff 2005) that recursion may be possible outside of language: navigation, number, music, social interaction, and visual computation are a few directions at which they collectively have hinted. In essence what the reader will find in the work to follow is a kind of extended thought experiment: What if recursion were indeed a more general cognitive reasoning mechanism (rather than one specific to language)—one that aids us in navigation, counting and in the social sphere, for example? How would it work and where would it appear? And what, on the contrary, would language, mind, and cultural practices look like without recursion? What do the mechanisms that underlie recursion uniquely allow us to do, and what could we do without them?

The dissertation is intended to be a descriptive work—an imaginative recreation of how we might experience recursion in many domains of human mind and practice, based on the philosophically rich conceptions of recursion made by Chomsky and his historical forebears: Peano, Russell and Godel, among them. The conclusion offers suggestions about how we might fit these descriptions into formal scientific inquiry.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bernstein, Richard J.
Commitee: Jackendoff, Ray, Nikulin, Dmitri
School: New School University
Department: Philosophy
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 73/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Linguistics, Philosophy
Keywords: Chomsky, Noam, Everett, Daniel, Piraha, Recursion
Publication Number: 3495826
ISBN: 9781267197498
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