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Re: [ontolog-forum] cultural variation in cognitive machinery

To: ontolog-forum@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
From: "John F. Sowa" <sowa@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Date: Sat, 10 Apr 2010 10:45:01 -0400
Message-id: <4BC08EED.7050701@xxxxxxxxxxx>
Ali, Pat, Azamat, and Ferenc,    (01)

This is the kind of thread that can go on indefinitely without making
much, if any, contribution to the methods for developing ontologies.    (02)

I'm sorry that I stated my original point without enough qualification
to clarify the point I was trying to make.  But in summary,    (03)

  1. The basic cognitive machinery for all humans is established in
     the first 3 years during which the basic biological needs and
     interactions with parents or other caregivers are the major
     influence -- not technology, including writing.  In fact, some
     technology, such as television can be a deterrent by reducing
     the amount of human contact.    (04)

  2. Language itself is overwhelmingly the most important influence
     on cognitive development in addition to human social contact.    (05)

  3. Writing is extremely important for expanding the child's range
     of experience and intellectual challenges.  However, no written
     language had been invented until about 5,000 years ago, and the
     overwhelming majority of people in all cultures were illiterate
     until a few centuries ago.  (But there were examples of drawing,
     modeling, and musical devices thousands of years earlier.)    (06)

  4. Both archaeological evidence and contact with preliterate
     societies shows that people in those societies can be very
     intelligent and very capable of learning how to live and
     thrive in a wide range of challenging environments from the
     Sahara to the Arctic.    (07)

As an example, I cited the Pirahã as an extreme case of a society
with a language and culture that challenges the preconceptions
by most linguists and anthropologists.  I urge anyone who may be
interested in this topic to read the following article:    (08)

http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/04/16/070416fa_fact_colapinto    (09)

The author is a _New Yorker_ writer who accompanied two linguists
on a field trip to visit the Pirahã.  One was Dan Everett, who
had spent many years living with them and had published several
articles that challenged current linguistic theories.  The other
was a Chomskyan linguist who hoped to prove that the master's
theories about Universal Grammar (UG) were sound.  The interactions
are both enlightening and amusing.    (010)

John    (011)

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