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Language in Cognition: Uncovering Mental Structures and the Rules Behind Them

ISBN: 978-1-4443-1005-4
264 pages
April 2010, Wiley-Blackwell
Language in Cognition: Uncovering Mental Structures and the Rules Behind Them (1444310054) cover image
This textbook explores the ways in which language informs the structure and function of the human mind, offering a point of entry into the fascinating territory of cognitive science. Focusing mainly on syntactic issues, Language in Cognition is a unique contribution to this burgeoning field of study.
  • Guides undergraduate students through the core questions of linguistics and cognitive science, and provides tools that will help them think about the field in a structured way
  • Uses the study of language and how language informs the structure and function of the human mind to introduce the major ideas in modern cognitive science, including its history and controversies
  • Explores questions such as: what does it mean to say that linguistics is part of the cognitive sciences; how do the core properties of language compare with the core properties of other human cognitive abilities such as vision, music, mathematics, and other mental building blocks; and what is the relationship between language and thought?
  • Includes an indispensable study guide as well as extensive references to encourage further independent study
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Acknowledgments.

ProloguePart I: Ever Since Chomsky:

1. Mind Matters: Chomsky’s Dangerous Idea.

2. The Mechanization of the Mind Picture.

3. How the Mind Grows: From Meno to NoamPart II: Unweaving the Sentence:

4. Mental Chemistry.

5. The Variety of Linguistic Experience: The Towers of Babel and Pisa.

6. All Roads Lead to Universal GrammarPart III: The Mental Foundations of Behavior:

7. Making Sense of Meaning: An Instruction Manual.

8. Wonderful Mental Life: Unthinkable without Language.

9. Grammar Caught in the ActPart IV: Missing Links:

10. The (Mis)Measure of Mind.

11. Homo Combinans.

12. Computational Organology.

Epilogue.

Notes.

Guide to Further Study.

References.

Index.

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Cedric Boeckx is Research Professor at the Catalan Institute for Advanced Studies (ICREA), and a member of the Center for Theoretical Linguistics at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Most recently he was Associate Professor of Linguistics at Harvard University. He is the author of Islands and Chains (2003), Linguistic Minimalism (2006), Understanding Minimalist Syntax (Wiley-Blackwell, 2007), and Bare Syntax (2008); and the founding co-editor, with Kleanthes K. Grohmann, of the Open Access journal Biolinguistics.
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  • Guides undergraduate students through the core questions of linguistics and cognitive science, and provides tools that will help them think about the field in a structured way
  • Uses the study of language and how language informs the structure and function of the human mind to introduce the major ideas in modern cognitive science, including its history and controversies
  • Explores questions such as: what does it mean to say that linguistics is part of the cognitive sciences; how do the core properties of language compare with the core properties of other human cognitive abilities such as vision, music, mathematics, and other mental building blocks; and what is the relationship between language and thought?
  • Includes an indispensable study guide as well as extensive references to encourage further independent study
See More
"Amongst the book's strengths, particularly commendable are the connections made to other cognitive domains and the biological sciences." (The Linguist, July 2010)

"Although each subsection is brief, the author includes chapter-by-chapter notes of cited material at the end of the text. The motivated reader will have no trouble tracking down the primary sources that the author discusses." (PsycCRITIQUES, March 2010)

"Boeckx has a deep familiarity with all of the (very wide-ranging) material he presents, and has done original and important work in several of these areas. He is a lucid and engaging expositor, and is highly qualified in every respect to undertake an enterprise of this nature … [He] brings together the right topics, some right at the edge or even at the horizons of research. If I were teaching undergraduate or graduate courses in these areas, I cannot think of a competing text that I would prefer."
–Noam Chomsky

"No one had integrated, yet, the key four notions "language", "cognition", "mental" and "structures" in such a masterly and original way. A wealth of discoveries awaits both the novice reader and the expert. Cedric's art of revealing deep connections between fields, authors and ideas has frequently prompted me, while reading this book, to wonder why I had not seen those connections before."
Massimo Piattelli-Palmarini, University of Arizona

“If Linguistics is the queen of the cognitive sciences, then Cedric Boeckx is her official court biographer. In one short book, he clearly outlines how the developments in linguistics have upended earlier empiricist conceptions of mind and spurred exciting investigations of human evolution.”
Norbert Hornstein, University of Maryland

“Language in Cognition is not so much a book with facts and concepts, as a long argument and discussion with the reader. It is an argument that every serious student of the mind sciences should know, even if they don't join the choir. Boeckx masterfully presents the material, showing why biology must form a core part of the mind sciences, and how the mind sciences, and especially language, can pose new challenges for biology.”
Marc Hauser, Harvard College, Author of Moral Minds

“Cedric Boeckx provides a wonderful, modern review of the necessity of mentalism, of innate structure for all of the mind, and the role of mathematics in articulating different principles of representation for different modules of mind---a summary of the Chomskyan revolution over the last half century. He brings perspective to the project by connecting the history of philosophy with modern experimentation showing that the “generative” approach to both language and mind has received stunning support in acquisition, processing, and aphasia. At the same time, he acknowledges many mysteries: we do not know what our “gut feelings” contain, though they are central to humanity and dignity. They may also contain amalgams combined from different modules in ways we do not understand, but which also may ultimately submit to mathematical representation. The book situates grammar in the broader sciences in a manner accessible to the generally educated student or curious layman. It is a superb introduction to the fundamental role of generative thought in modern cognitive science, weaving together psychological, biological, and philosophical perspectives.”
Tom Roeper, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

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