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What's Within?Nativism Reconsidered$
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Fiona Cowie

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195159783

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195159783.001.0001

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What Nativism Is Not

What Nativism Is Not

(p.3) 1 What Nativism Is Not
What's Within?

Fiona Cowie

Oxford University Press

It can be observed that the doctrine of innate ideas may be as old as philosophy itself, as it may be one of the most basic conceptions. The notion that the character of our mental faculties is determined internally or innately is evident in works as early as that of Plato, which was revived between the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by significant rationalist philosophers, and which underwent further examination in the twentieth century by mentalists such as Jerry Fodor and Noam Chomsky. There is, however, no definite statement about what exactly nativism is all about. While some may believe that what is in our minds was already innate, such a hypothesis is enough to raise several different problems, as such innateness may be of various types of cognitive equipment: ideas, beliefs and faculties. This chapter attempts to clarify certain misconceptions about the notion of nativism.

Keywords:   Jerry Fodor, Noam Chomsky, nativism, ideas, beliefs, faculties, innateness, cognitive equipment

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