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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pinker is obviously right!, February 6, 2001
This review is from: The Language Instinct: How the Mind Creates Language (Perennial Classics) (Paperback)
I do not understand how other reviewers could say Pinker's idea has not been proved. It seems to me that Pinker's thesis is obviously correct, by definition.let me explain. just think about the complexity of language learning and understanding. Every computer scientists, who tries making a computer capable of understanding, knows two things for sure: 1.some abilities must be given as INNATE. Every programme must be based on some innate rules to work, such as the concept of time, of motion, of cause and effect. 2. The problem of understanding complex language is a computationally DIFFICULT one, because you have to examine many patterns , which may or may not be connected to each other, and if they are, the programme has to find the general rule to which they obey, via "abstraction" , or more precisely via a process called "induction". The computer program must also discard all the meaningless common patterns between the data samples : for example when you'll hear the word BALL and you see a red ball falling on the ground, after been thrown by a kid, the programme must understand that the colour of the ball doesn't matter, the effect that it is falling doesn't matter, that the kid doesn't matter. He can do that only after seeing many samples, and has to be capable of abstraction, induction. This capability is needed just for understanding the meaning of nouns, not to talk about the many other parts of the sentence, and what is more important, the structure of the sentence. So language understanding and world understanding are very complex problems, and the brain, although it is very slow in many other problems, solves those problem perfectly. This is very suspicious. Why do they solve those problems so efficiently? Many computer scientists will say: because the computers are sequential machines, and brains are mainly parallel computational machines, which are especially suited for that kind of problems, such as pattern recognition. But this answer is wrong, because DOG's brains are also parallel machines, but dogs don't understand language, apart from single words that any neural network can understand. So, Why is that? obviously, there must be something in the STRUCTURE of the brain - that is unique to humans- that helps understanding language. And what in the world can account for the body structure, the brain structure? Genes. What else? That is true by definition. Genes are the only thing that can account for the structural our body. So Pinker's thesis is nothing more than tautology, in my opinion. Obviously, many reviewers don't think it is tautology, so I must conclude that I have not understood their point very well, so I apologise for simplifying things too much. Please let me know what you think. I also have not finished the book so far.
Maurizio Colucci seguso@tiscalinet.it
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