Beyond Core Cognition: Natural Number
This chapter turns to cases of discontinuities in conceptual development arguing that evolution did not give humans the positive integers. Rather, the capacity to represent the positive integers is a cultural construction that transcends core cognition. Unlike core cognition, unlike the representations in the language-acquisition device, and unlike innate central representations such as cause, much of the human conceptual repertoire is not continuous through the life span. Two challenges must be met to prove this claim. The first challenge is descriptive: to establish discontinuities in cognitive development by providing analyses of successive conceptual systems, CS1 and CS2, demonstrating in what sense CS2 is qualitatively more powerful than CS1. The second challenge is explanatory: to characterize the learning mechanism(s) that get us from CS1 to CS2. The chapter begins by taking on the descriptive challenge. After showing that the acquisition of the capacity to represent natural number meets it, it takes on the explanatory challenge. It elaborates on a particular type of bootstrapping process, Quinian bootstrapping, and sketches two alternative Quinian bootstrapping processes that might account for the acquisition of the capacity to represent natural number.
Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.
If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.