Cognitive Modules, Creativity and Choice: Mysteries in Chomsky's Solution to the Problem of Creativity

Dissertation, Washington University (1993)

Noam Chomsky has failed to provide a satisfactory explanation of the "creativity of language" that he maintains is an essential part of the mental representation that makes the acquisition of languages possible. I argue that Chomsky's problems in articulating an acceptable concept of creativity is symptomatic of greater problems embedded in his idea of an "innateness hypothesis." An examination of the historical development of Chomsky's views on the nature of language shows that conclusions with regard to the creativity of language remain either quite speculative or else untenable. This result establishes some agreement with Chomsky on the idea that cognitive capacities are largely structure determined. However, I argue against his idea that creativity is itself a part of those structures. In conclusion, I argue that creativity is an aspect of autonomy. In view of the integrative role of autonomy with respect cognitive capacities in general, we must conclude that creativity does not belong to the biological domain that Chomsky has characterized
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