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What was Rand's argument for tabula rasa?

You seem to be looking for a deductively reasoned argument. In that case, you won't find one. As David essentially wrote, this issue (and all others, at their root) is inductive.

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It's a simple observation of fact. I assume you understand what she claimed: she did not claim "Man must learn to have the faculty of reason".

I take tabula rasa to be the belief that there are not innate ideas. What simple observation of fact establishes that?

Edited by ctrl y

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I take tabula rasa to be the belief that there are not innate ideas.
That's a subset of the Objectivist TR position, that humans have no innate knowledge of fact (or ideas). The conclusion is not trivially derived or axiomatic, but it is derived by reference to fact, alone. That's what "simply" means in that sentence.

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Tabula rasa is derived from observing the behavior of very young children and comparing their knowledge with the claims made that people do possess innate knowledge or ideas of one sort or another. The claim is amazingly easy to refute: you just have to look at a cousin of mind who for a long time did not like to eat food. She has a genetic liver dysfunction and had to be fed corn starch through a catheter into her stomach for a long time--she never had the chance to develop the association of food with the enjoyable cessation of hunger. When the catheter was removed, it took significant time to coax her into eating.

The burden of proof rests on anyone who claims that humans *do* possess innate ideas or knowledge to provide evidence of this fact. Objectivists simply reject the arbitrary and recognize that no evidence means no innate ideas.

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Yes, utterly.

I know this thread is two months old but I had to comment. If you base your entire philosophy on a scientific theory that has a weak foundation, then when that foundation crumbles the philosophy goes with it.

Tabula Rasa is a pretty outdated and unscientific concept, if you read Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate he does a pretty good job of dismantling the nominal subject, and goes on to explain why we don't need the blank slate to preserve our virtues anyway (indeed he demonstrates why it would be worse).

If Objectivism relies utterly on tabula rasa than all the worse for Objectivism.

Edited by Melchior

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Tabula Rasa is a pretty outdated and unscientific concept, if you read Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate he does a pretty good job of dismantling the nominal subject, and goes on to explain why we don't need the blank slate to preserve our virtues anyway (indeed he demonstrates why it would be worse).

I haven't read that but what are the arguments witch you think refute it?

Proof apart from somebody calling it ''unscientific'' as if science can be invoked by saying the word.

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I haven't read that but what are the arguments witch you think refute it?

Well for example there are tests they ran on babies gauging their reactions to certain events to see whether it was something they were surprised by or something they expected. Babies would stare a little longer at seemingly impossible events produced by sleight of hand, but showed no interest in things that made sense. For example, if you put one toy behind a screen and the same toy came out the other side, the child would not show interest. Same case if you did two for two or three for three. If however you put one toy behind the screen and two or three came out, or a completely different toy showed up, the baby would be shocked. There are lots of other examples, babies had a ho-hum reaction when they saw something that made sense, but were dumbounded when something broke the laws of physics, even though they don't know anything about physics and haven't been alive long enough to learn all the rules (like that things always fall down rather than up, etc). we are born into this world expecting our environment to follow certain laws, we are born with concepts, so to speak, we have to be otherwise there would be nothing to add to and work with. Newborn babies can actually do basic arithmetic if you test them, little children have solid rules in their minds about how words should be applied to objects (for example, if they hear a second word used to describe an object, they immediately consider it to be an adjective, they stop doing this eventually though). If you read the Trial and Death of Socrates he makes seemingly convincing arguments for why the soul must exist and enter the body at birth from a prior life, based on how people have certain kinds of intuitive knowledge, but you could also apply his arguments to a modern evolutionary perspective. So the common sense arguments still apply I think, except instead of the sole what we have is an evolved brain.

There is also the case where people have had brain damage or brain surgery and they lose certain cognitive abilities (like specific parts of language such as vocabulary, grammar, even cursing, all these things are separate) as well as knowledge and personalities were radically changed, in ways you would never intuit (in one case I read this guy who had a rail spike through his head suddenly became quite rude and at times violent, in another it turns out splitting a part of the brain can literally "split" your personality, where reasoning in the left half is separate from the right, it's hard to explain but it's very freaky). Your genes have a lot to do with how you turn out too. There was one case where identical twins were separated at birth, one born as a Catholic in Nazi Germany and the other as a Jew somewhere in India or something. They had never met, but once brought together they were wearing the exact same outfit, liked the same kinds of food, had the same quirky habits, played the same pranks, etc, down to the eeriest details (they both liked to dip buttered toast in coffee, both flushed the toilet before and after using it, both wore rubber bands on their wrists, both liked to sneeze in crowded elevators to watch people jump, etc.) Obviously there is no single "buttered toast in coffee" gene, but rather it is a combination of sorts (a stronger taste for butter or sweetness than other people, a... propensity to dip things, I guess). You can use your imagination.

He explains it much better than I can though. Personally I'm not done with the book but many of his arguments were already spelled out in the Language Instinct and other books. He's a great science writer, you should check him out.

Proof apart from somebody calling it ''unscientific'' as if science can be invoked by saying the word.

True, but modern discoveries in different fields such as genetics and cognitive science is piling quite a bit of evidence against the blank slate. Much of it is just common sense though IMO. This is more wishful thinking on people's part, I think.

I would like to know why Objectivism supposedly relies on the doctrine of the Blank Slate though. It doesn't seem like it should to me.

Edited by Melchior

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Well for example there are tests they ran on babies gauging their reactions to certain events to see whether it was something they were surprised by or something they expected. Babies would stare a little longer at seemingly impossible events produced by sleight of hand, but showed no interest in things that made sense. For example, if you put one toy behind a screen and the same toy came out the other side, the child would not show interest. Same case if you did two for two or three for three. If however you put one toy behind the screen and two or three came out, or a completely different toy showed up, the baby would be shocked.

I'm not surprised by babies being capable of being surprised when something they see seems to contradict their memory of it.

There are lots of other examples, babies had a ho-hum reaction when they saw something that made sense, but were dumbounded when something broke the laws of physics, even though they don't know anything about physics and haven't been alive long enough to learn all the rules (like that things always fall down rather than up, etc). we are born into this world expecting our environment to follow certain laws, we are born with concepts, so to speak, we have to be otherwise there would be nothing to add to and work with.

Somewhere in there you failed to mention the actual test that were done witch couldn't be explained by:

That's new, I wonder what it is.

Was there a control group of ''new but 'seemingly possible' things?''.

Newborn babies can actually do basic arithmetic if you test them

They did some tests with birds too, from the evidence they showed I could only make up little chicks prefer larger groups of yellow fluffy balls to smaller groups.

little children have solid rules in their minds about how words should be applied to objects (for example, if they hear a second word used to describe an object, they immediately consider it to be an adjective, they stop doing this eventually though).

Little children can have reason to assume that to be the case when they have implicitly grasped a concept to be a universal.

If you read the Trial and Death of Socrates he makes seemingly convincing arguments for why the soul must exist and enter the body at birth from a prior life, based on how people have certain kinds of intuitive knowledge, but you could also apply his arguments to a modern evolutionary perspective. So the common sense arguments still apply I think, except instead of the soul what we have is an evolved brain.

Our brains as a part of our bodies are evolved but their content is not passed down by it.

There is also the case where people have had brain damage or brain surgery and they lose certain cognitive abilities (like specific parts of language such as vocabulary, grammar, even cursing, all these things are separate) as well as knowledge and personalities were radically changed, in ways you would never intuit (in one case I read this guy who had a rail spike through his head suddenly became quite rude and at times violent, in another it turns out splitting a part of the brain can literally "split" your personality, where reasoning in the left half is separate from the right, it's hard to explain but it's very freaky). Your genes have a lot to do with how you turn out too. There was one case where identical twins were separated at birth, one born as a Catholic in Nazi Germany and the other as a Jew somewhere in India or something. They had never met, but once brought together they were wearing the exact same outfit, liked the same kinds of food, had the same quirky habits, played the same pranks, etc, down to the eeriest details (they both liked to dip buttered toast in coffee, both flushed the toilet before and after using it, both wore rubber bands on their wrists, both liked to sneeze in crowded elevators to watch people jump, etc.) Obviously there is no single "buttered toast in coffee" gene, but rather it is a combination of sorts (a stronger taste for butter or sweetness than other people, a... propensity to dip things, I guess). You can use your imagination.

He explains it much better than I can though. Personally I'm not done with the book but many of his arguments were already spelled out in the Language Instinct and other books. He's a great science writer, you should check him out.

To the twins I plead the law of large numbers and that like many details their similar bodies made certain clothes look a the same on both of them. Both could have drawn the same conclusion becous of that. That however does not take away that they both reached those conclusions seperatly.

But I don't see how brain damage has anything to do with this I didn't say that the mind and the brain were separate.

Although I do think that you cant see a whole chair when you're only looking at one of its feet trough a magnifying glass.

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Tabula Rasa is a pretty outdated and unscientific concept, if you read Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate he does a pretty good job of dismantling the nominal subject, and goes on to explain why we don't need the blank slate to preserve our virtues anyway (indeed he demonstrates why it would be worse).
If you want your argument to be taken seriously, you need to first understand the "tabula rasa" claim, then secondly demonstrate (drawing on Pinker if you want) those scientific facts that refute this tenet of Objectivism. I don't believe that you have done the first, or that you can do the second.

None of his arguments about language are applicable: they either show a frankly unscientific trend to evangelism in leaping to conclusions not supported by the data (many of his claims about notions of structure, which it turns out are no longer believed by even the most ardent Chomskian nativists), or they are simply inapplicable to the tabula rasa debate -- they pertain to the capacity to learn, not to the prior presence of knowledge. This is the fundamental problem that opponents of tabula rasa fail to grasp -- that the claim is that man is born without specific knowledge of reality; it is not that man is born with no mental ability and must learn how to have mental ability.

I suggest digging deeper, looking at the actual research literature, to see what these experiments establish, rule out, and simply "hint". What, for example, is there about a baby being surprised at having multiple toys emerging on the other side of the screen that proves that man has genetically-wired knowledge of thenature of the universe? What fact of the experiment establishes that this is not something that children learn, from observation of the world about them? How, by the setup of the experiment, were the children prevented from getting the notion of "motion" before the experiment?

The fact that brain damage can lead to aphasia in no way establishes any genetic knowledge: it establishess that language is in the brain, not in the foot (in case there is any doubt). So please, look back at your brain-damage argument, and try to understand how that is simply not relevant to the question of tabula rasa. The nativists seem to not understand what the actual claim is -- they are basing their arguments, at best, on long-ago refuted behaviorist notions. So let's see some arguments that actually establish that babies have concrete knowledge of the world which precedes any experience with the fact. Arguments that "language is in the brain" is clearly irrelevant.

Twin studies, similarly, do nothing to establish knowledge. Objectivism does not hold that your nature, in terms of your consciousness, is entirely independent of your brain. Show me the twin study that establishes actal knowledge prior to experience shared by identical twins.

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I know this thread is two months old but I had to comment. If you base your entire philosophy on a scientific theory that has a weak foundation, then when that foundation crumbles the philosophy goes with it.

Tabula Rasa is a pretty outdated and unscientific concept, if you read Steven Pinker's The Blank Slate he does a pretty good job of dismantling the nominal subject, and goes on to explain why we don't need the blank slate to preserve our virtues anyway (indeed he demonstrates why it would be worse).

If Objectivism relies utterly on tabula rasa than all the worse for Objectivism.

A version of tabula rasa which denies that people have bodies is of course incorrect. Pinker's target with this book seems to be a radical egalitarianism which denies all differences between people, and the possibility of such a thing as human nature.

The Objectivist version of Tabula Rasa does not deny physiology, and from my review of Locke at Plato neither did Locke. Everyone is born with certain senses and capacities to learn, males and females differ, etc. The physiological prerequisites of consciousness comprise the power to be concious, but not the contents of consciousness. It is correct to say one is born with the ability to perceive colors, it is incorrect to say one is born knowing color. The second formulation is wrong because it omits the step of looking at something in particular which has a color. Knowledge derives from experience.

I can cite popular science books proving the opposite conclusion about hardwired, inherited knowledge. For example, The Brain That Changes Itself presents evidence that nothing in the brain is hardwired, it exhibits neurological plasticity throughout a persons life.

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Okay, I'm going to try and summarize these responses in a specific counter point, it looks like the main objection you guys have here is that I'm arguing about innate abilities rather than innate knowledge. Well, I'm not exactly making that case, if you look at some of the examples I used they deal with concepts and systems, not just mental capacities. Granted they are concepts and systems mostly designed to absorb knowledge, but they set rules and limits for what kind of knowledge and how it's used (for example, whatever language a human learns it has to have subjects, objects, verbs, etc. There have to be things that fill in slots. We would have trouble acquiring an alien language with different underlying structures).

I suppose it's true that none of the arguments Pinker makes is that people are born with specific knowledge, but to be honest I wasn't aware that that was the objection in the first place. My understanding of Tabula Rasa is that it asserts that people's personalities and beliefs are entirely shaped by their environment (if you're raised by wolves you'll think you're a wolf, if you are raised in a culture where murder is considered a virtue you'll think the same, etc) when this is clearly not the case. There are human universals, for example all cultures consider murder and incest to be taboo. You can't "train" someone to be gay, etc.

I suppose it depends on what you mean by knowledge, I'm not talking about conscious knowledge obviously but you can argue that we are born with a sort of intuitive knowledge (which can translate into conscious knowledge when it's rounded out), and yes it can be imprinted by the effects that natural selection had on our ancestors. We are born expecting this world to be filled with other human beings, we have evolved to be social. If you took a child and put him/her in a completely isolated environment (being provided for in every other possible way) that child would be extremely lonely but perhaps not know why. This is because we have evolved to live in social groups.

Some of my examples were kind of brushed aside. FrolicsomeQuipster, babies aren't shocked by certain events because it contradicts their memory of it. I suppose you can make that case but I'm dubious, it would have to be that babies consciously pay attention to these things from birth and keep track of patterns, then show surprise when something contradicts those patterns. I think this is more a case of something contradicting intuition. Babies come into this world expecting to see faces (there is a part of the brain that registers faces specifically), large moving objects that they are programmed to follow and depend on (i.e. mom), and that 2 + 2 will never equal five. These aren't abilities to me, this is programmed behavior and intuition.

Also, in the case of the twins I don't think you can chalk it up to coincidence, those details were very specific. It wasn't that the outfit fit them, they had the same taste in color and decoration, etc. I suppose one example isn't important, but still...

Here is a very powerful case of nature over nurture IMO: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Reimer

It's all described in the book As Nature Made Him, worth the read for anyone who is convinced that environmental factors are the prime determiners of personality.

Why is Tabula Rasa so important to Objectivism anyway?

Edited by Melchior

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Why is Tabula Rasa so important to Objectivism anyway?
Primarily because it is a fact, and facts are important to Objectivism. More concretely, read VOS. Here are some indications of the reason.

Since nature does not provide man with an automatic form of survival, since he has to support his life by his own effort, the doctrine that concern with one's own interests is evil means that man's desire to live is evil—that man's life, as such, is evil. No doctrine could be more evil than that...

A plant has no choice of action; the goals it pursues are automatic and innate, determined by its nature....

an animal has no choice in the standard of value directing its actions: its senses provide it with an automatic code of values, an automatic knowledge of what is good for it or evil, what benefits or endangers its life...

Man has no automatic code of survival. He has no automatic course of action, no automatic set of values. His senses do not tell him automatically what is good for him or evil, what will benefit his life or endanger it, what goals he should pursue and what means will achieve them, what values his life depends on, what course of action it requires. His own consciousness has to discover the answers to all these questions-but his consciousness will not function automatically. Man, the highest living species on this earth—the being whose consciousness has a limitless capacity for gaining knowledge—man is the only living entity born without any guarantee of remaining conscious at all. Man's particular distinction from all other living species is the fact that his consciousness is volitional.

....

A being who does not know automatically what is true or false, cannot know automatically what is right or wrong, what is good for him or evil. Yet he needs that knowledge in order to live.

Now, just addressing a few additional examples that you raised, consider the putative "human universals", that "all" cultures consider murder and incest to be taboo. To begin with, this is a tautology in that murder is by definition taboo killing, and incest is by definition taboo sexual intercourse. The actual content of what kinds of sexual relationships are prohibited vary substantially from society to society. The kinds of killing that are prohibited similarly vary quite substantially from society to society. The statistical similarities that may be detected are not the result of genetic knowledge, they are the result of volitional and reality, that murder is contrary to man's nature and counterproductive w.r.t. the existence of society.

The reasoning from "universality" that Pinker (and other nativists) engage in is flawed for two reasons. First, at the level of basic research, the claims are often vastly overstated. Second, they fail to consider totally reasonable cognitive social-evolutionary reasons for volitional facts being universal. For example, it is a universal fact that while linguistic rules can involve factorization of language units into groups of two, no linguistic rule ever performs a prime factorization of those units. This could be reified into a universal genetic principle to the effect that rules of grammar cannot refer to prime numbers; but the real explanation is that it would be cognitively impossible to learn and perform such a rule in speech, because it is hard to do a prime factorization in your head.

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... (for example, whatever language a human learns it has to have subjects, objects, verbs, etc. There have to be things that fill in slots. We would have trouble acquiring an alien language with different underlying structures).

All of the similarity across cultures is accounted for by two causes: an historical cultural antecedent held in common or a product of solving the same problem and arriving at the same solution. Language is a mixture of both in that subjects and objects and their actions actually exist, but the words that denote them are passed along from person to person. Alien and human languages would have subjects, objects and verbs because they both deal with the same "underlying structure of reality". An alien word form could be radically different from a sound, but it would refer to the same thing.

Objectivism refers to the ability to hold only a small finite number of entities in awareness at once as the crow epistemology, after certain experiments about fooling crows. Babies are quite capable of doing mental feats that crows can do.

The Reimer case is a demonstration that people are not infinitely malleable clay figures, but this says nothing about innate knowledge. Nature vs. Nurture is a false dichotomy between two versions of determinism. Determinism is false.

Why is Tabula Rasa so important to Objectivism anyway?

The entire philosophical field of epistemology (not just Objectivist epistemology) is premised on the notion that knowledge is about things that exist and can only be gained by a proper method. Knowledge that wells up from inside automatically negates the need for any method and destroys any possibility of claiming all knowledge refers to reality. Innate ideas, instinct, intuitions, and a priori concepts all accomplish the denial of very possibility of an epistemology.

A moral intuition creates ethical subjectivism, destroying the philosophical field of ethics.

The doctrine of innate ideas destroys all of philosophy.

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I can't believe I passed this up!!! Thanks to Grames for the alert.

for example, whatever language a human learns it has to have subjects, objects, verbs, etc.
This is actually a bit of rationalism and burying of the conclusion in the premises. It is false that all languages have to have subjects, objects, verbs etc. (I wonder what the referent of etc. is here). These are quite specific grammatical constructs, and there is a good-sized literature on the irrelevance of subject / object in a number of languages (such as Chinese), or the specific category "verb" (I refer you to the seminal work of Jelenik on Salishan). A subject is not the same as an agent (the semantic notion "agent" has a vastly greater claim to linguistic universality than the syntactic notion "subject"), and the crosslinguistic incoherence of the concept "object" is legendary -- corresonding to the fact that we can't even say what is the predominant semantic role of syntactic objects.

In the day, there were certain nativist theories that demanded that all languages had to have subjects in their sentences, but this was pure stipulation, necessitated only by arbitrary Platonist claims made about sentence structure. I wouldn't say that nobody believes anymore that subjects and objects are obligatory in language, but certainly that is no longer a credible claim and has never been an empirically well-supported claim. It has simply been a theoretical stipulation, and not a good one at that. Thus, of course, not evidence at all for any notion of a prior knowledge of language.

Basically, Grames exactly identified the two sources of "universals" perfectly: historical common antecedent, and product of solving the same problem.

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Okay, a couple things here. First, no disrespect to Rand but I can't agree that human beings have "no automatic form of survival," that's just counter intuitive. I suppose you could argue that reason what humans need to use in order to survive, but that just one of many mechanisms that were evolved for the purpose.

Second, concerning human universals, they are not a matter common sense or tautologies. There are quite a few universals that go beyond what would be necessary or expected, arbitrary customs and taboos and such. Religion is one of them, there is no human culture on earth that doesn't have religion, the difference is whether it's a folk religion or organized religion (which depends on how developed society is). It is a trait human beings have evolved that kind of ran away.

Just skim this list: http://condor.depaul.edu/~mfiddler/hyphen/humunivers.htm

I'll concede that there are other possible explanations for these universals (arriving at the same solution, etc) which are true in some cases, but I think the role genes and inherited brain structure play are being severely underappreciated here.

The case of David Reimer has for more implications than just the fact that we are not completely malleable, it makes a strong case that our birthright has a significant and unchangeable influence on our personality, behavior, attitude and desires. If you would just read the book you would feel the impact.

By the way, of course I know that there are languages that don't require a subject, such as Japanese (I could just say, "don't understand English" and the "I" is understood) but that doesn't mean it isn't there. Don't you know about Chomsky's theory of underlying structures? Or do you not accept it? Pinker demonstrates it very well in the Language Instinct (the "discuss sex with Dick Cavett" line... look it up). I don't buy the idea that all languages use the same underlying system because it's obvious that something must have a subject, and an object, etc. There are many other ways the system could have been arranged and much of it is rather arbitrary (but universal just the same, just read the Stuff of Thought). For example, if you read about parameters, there are language universals in the sense that any language that "does x will also do y, etc." Japanese is a head-last language and is almost a flipped, mirror version of English (which is useful if you are struggling with Japanese grammar). Language would actually be easier and more logical if it didn't have auxiliaries and other arbitrary rules, but it has them and they are present in every language, albeit different on the surface.

I also don't agree that innatism is detrimental to philosophy in general or even Objectivism. Philosophy is concerned with knowledge, existence, ethics, etc. I don't see how advancements in science should harm philosophy, Daniel Dennett is a philosopher and Pinker in his book gives philosophy a spotlight that he acknowledges it (wrongly) so rarely receives anymore. Ayn Rand's philosophy is dependent on the idea that there is such a thing as human nature, if the mind is a blank slate then that all falls apart. None of that should matter anyway though, whether or not a possible truth hurts your philosophy doesn't change whether or not it's true.

I'm not going to argue about specific ideas, as far as I know the concept of "innate ideas" is a metaphor, obviously no one is born with ideas like "spoon" or "monkey" or "car." No one is arguing that. But we are born with an elementary and intuitive understanding of math and physics, color, shape, etc. As well as the idea of parents and human socializing, and even sex and superstition (I "knew" what sex was during pubertal awakening even if know one would tell me the details, just like adults who are now gay "knew" they were gay before they understood what homosexuality even was. And I know what Dennett means when he is talking about "intentionality," I certainly did imputed animism to objects in my childhood, and eventually grew out of it). We are equipped with instincts and expectations that would have benefited us during hunter gatherer days, "ideas" at least in a vague intuitive sense can be imprinted with natural selection.

Edited by Melchior

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Don't you know about Chomsky's theory of underlying structures? Or do you not accept it?
Uh, yes, I understand it very well thank you. I assume you're not familiar with Chomsky's more recent line, since, say, the early 70's. Consult current work in his Minimalist Program, and you will find that there is no longer this entity "deep structure" -- that is to say, Chomsky himself does not accept the hypothesis. The hypothesis was shown to be empirically empty during the Nixon presidency.
For example, if you read about parameters, there are language universals in the sense that any language that "does x will also do y, etc." Japanese is a head-last language and is almost a flipped, mirror version of English (which is useful if you are struggling with Japanese grammar).
I assume that you're not familiar with research in linguistic typology since, say Greenberg 1963, such as Dryer 1992's work on explaining typological correlations. (And they are at best weak correlations, explained partially by functional facts and partially by pure historical coincidence). It is well established that these claims are not universals. In fact, English itself is a counterexample to the head-first / head-last dichotomy because despite being head-first, adjectives precede nouns in English, like they do in head-final languages. The notion of "parameter" is, again, lousy evidence for genetic predetermination, since these parameters turn out to be nothing more than a statement of what we have managed to attest empirically in our research. The notion cannot be falsified. I assume you're not familiar with various monostratal theories of semantic interpretation that give you the multiple readings of "discuss sex with Dick Cavett", without an abstract "deep structure"; and I also assume you aren't aware of why derivationality and universality are two entirely separate hypotheses about the nature of language.

The point which I want to emphasize right now is that when your argument reduces to simply declaring "that's just counter intuitive", and you rely on popular-science type reports in support of genetic predetermination of language, which is a pretty outdated and unscientific concept, then your argument against tabula rasa loses credibility. People wonder why I dispute Pinker's claims -- well, it's because I know the subject matter, and I know where he is just fantasizing and propagandizing.

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Some of my examples were kind of brushed aside. FrolicsomeQuipster, babies aren't shocked by certain events because it contradicts their memory of it. I suppose you can make that case but I'm dubious, it would have to be that babies consciously pay attention to these things from birth and keep track of patterns, then show surprise when something contradicts those patterns. I think this is more a case of something contradicting intuition.

They would not (nor could they) focus on all specific things from birth but the tests you mentioned did have the babies in italy paying a certain amount of atention to something possible.

And is not the conscious in consciously paying attention redundant?

Babies come into this world expecting to see faces (there is a part of the brain that registers faces specifically), large moving objects that they are programmed to follow and depend on (i.e. mom), and that 2 + 2 will never equal five. These aren't abilities to me, this is programmed behavior and intuition

We have a certain part of our brain very adept at recognising and remembering faces.

There is not a picture of a face in a child's mind at witch it looks and thinks to itself ''yea I'd better expect that''.

And I don't see the relevance of your mentioning of math here a child does not know what the number 2 means without turning two ones into a concept.

Without that would you not have: One and one, and, one and one, is, one and one and one and one?

Also, in the case of the twins I don't think you can chalk it up to coincidence, those details were very specific. It wasn't that the outfit fit them, they had the same taste in color and decoration, etc. I suppose one example isn't important, but still...

Take all clothes at the time and remove the amount of clothes that don't fit them.

Then remove the amount of clothes that they couldn't have worn because they didn't encounter them.

Then remove the clothes that were to expensive for both.

Then all clothes witch are for the opposite sex.

Then the clothes witch would be uncomfortable for them.

I could go on but in the end it wouldn't be that improbable for any two people to wear the same clothes, these two people just happened to be twins.

Here is a very powerful case of nature over nurture IMO: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Reimer

It's all described in the book As Nature Made Him, worth the read for anyone who is convinced that environmental factors are the prime determiners of personality.

I'll read that latter.

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But we are born with an elementary and intuitive understanding of math and physics, color, shape, etc.

No, we are being born with a capability to understand math, physics, color and shape. But before we encounter physical things, that move, that have different colors and look different from eachother, we have no knowledge of math, physics, color and shape.

A blind person has no intuitive understanding of color(just like we seeing people dont either), and can grasp the notion of color only once someone explains it in terms the blind person can understand, in other words, referring to things the blind person has experienced and can experience. He can understand that seeing people can sense the different wavelenghts of visible light, and we can make him feel the thermal energy that visible light has, so he can verify that visible light actually exists. But without this explanation he would never have even thought about colors, and even with the explanation i doubt the blind can really understand color.

Even with just one of the senses working, a person can probably understand math, and have some understanding of physics even though with just smell and taste it will be pretty impossible. A person cannot understand shape if he doesnt have sight or touch, and possibly hearing, even though he would have to pretty much have sonar radar type ears ;)

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Ayn Rand's philosophy is dependent on the idea that there is such a thing as human nature, if the mind is a blank slate then that all falls apart. None of that should matter anyway though, whether or not a possible truth hurts your philosophy doesn't change whether or not it's true.

WTF? Melchior Im sorry but you dont seem to understand much at all of philosophy particularly Oism. For example your last sentence here is a violation of the law of non-contradiction.Ive said before Pinker may need to be addressed becaused I keep running into folks who are convined by his nonsense that stuff like Melchior is asserting is true.

Edited by Plasmatic

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WTF? Melchior Im sorry but you dont seem to understand much at all of philosophy particularly Oism. For example your last sentence here is a violation of the law of non-contradiction.Ive said before Pinker may need to be addressed becaused I keep running into folks who are convined by his nonsense that stuff like Melchior is asserting is true.

Melchior if your comment meant by "wether or not it is true" as in the "possible truth" then I misunderstood you. I read it as if you said that a philosophy can still be true if it is contradicted by another "truth".

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