College of Arts and Sciences | Born to be a Genius
E105 | 11065 | Bent

9:30AM - 10:45AM MW

Any viable theory of human mind must come to grips with how language
is learned by children. Few areas of research on human cognition
have aroused such controversy among scientists from diverse
disciplines who bring their methodologies to bear on this elemental
problem. At stake is the greatest prize of all: determining whether
all of human knowledge is molded by human culture or whether some of
it is determined by innate (genetic) structures. Two distinct
traditions have emerged from the battle, but only one of them has
influenced mainstream thought. One of the foundations of modern day
intellectual life is the assumption that the human mind is a product
of the social forces of culture brought to bear during the
developmental period.

In this course, we will examine the bold attack that has been made
against this firmly established position:  an attack that has
signaled a revolution in cognitive science. Our examination of the
central issues of language acquisition will question our
understanding of the modularity of mind, genetics versus
environment, human uniqueness, and the relation between language and
thought. Students will learn how to evaluate data that are used to
support or refute theoretical positions in discussions and in
written assignments, thereby deepening their understanding of the
issues and fostering critical thinking.