Jackendoff's Foundations of Language: Brain, Meaning, Grammar, Evolution attempts to reconnect generative linguistics to the rest of cognitive science. However, by minimally acknowledging decades of work in cognitive linguistics, treating dynamical systems approaches somewhat dismissively, and clinging to certain fundamental dogma while revising others, he clearly risks satisfying no one by almost pleasing everyone.
We argue that the strengths of the Theory of Event Coding (TEC) can usefully be applied to a wider scope of cognitive tasks, and tested by more diverse methodologies. When allied with a theory of conceptual representation such as Barsalou's (1999a) perceptual symbol systems, and extended to data from eye-movement studies, the TEC has the potential to address the larger goals of an embodied view of cognition.
Real-time cognition is continuous in time and contiguous in mental state space. This temporal continuity implies that the majority of mental life is spent in states that are partially consistent with multiple representations. The state-space contiguity implies that different cognitive processes interact in ways that make them quite non-modular. As the evidence for such information-permeability expands to include not just neural subsystems but also the entire brain and even the entire organism, this radical interactionism leads one to hypothesize that mental (...) activity, and perhaps consciousness itself, is something that emerges amid the interface between one's body and one's environment. We portray mental activity as a continuous trajectory through a brain-body-environment state space, where close visitations with labelled attractors may constitute reportable self- consciousness and traversals through unlabeled regions may constitute unutterable immediate conscious awareness. (shrink)
Carruthers invokes a number of controversial assumptions to support his thesis. Most are questionable and unnecessary to investigate the wider relevance of language in cognition. A number of research programs (e.g., interactionist psycholinguistics and cognitive linguistics) have for years pursued a similar thesis and provide a more empirically grounded framework for investigating language’ cognitive functions.
Pulvermüller restricts himself to an unnecessarily narrow range of evidence to support his claims. Evidence from neural modeling and behavioral experiments provides further support for an account of words encoded as transcortical cell assemblies. A cognitive neuroscience of language must include a range of methodologies (e.g., neural, computational, and behavioral) and will need to focus on the on-line processes of real-time language processing in more natural contexts.