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Mind Design and Minimal Syntax$
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Wolfram Hinzen

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199289257

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199289257.001.0001

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Good Design!

Good Design!

(p.239) 6 Good Design!
Mind Design and Minimal Syntax

Wolfram Hinzen (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter asks how far the project of vindicating best design considerations can be carried, as well as the project of naturalizing meaning by reducing it to independently motivated structural conditions on syntax. That syntax may, in a formulation of Uriagereka, ‘carve the path interpretation must blindly follow’, hence that semantics emerges in the strict confines of structures projected by the computational system of language, is argued to be the philosophical essence of the Minimalist Project. No such optimism is at this point warranted for the study of human lexical concepts, which remain a murky and perhaps scientifically inaccessible topic. The need for a reconceptualization of philosophical epistemology (a theory of knowledge) is explored. While it is a surprising that our minds may exhibit conditions of best design and that there is likely ‘knowledge by nature’ in Plato's sense, little if anything follows from our capacity to ground such knowledge in some ‘foundations’, let alone in the external conditions that the philosophical tradition has largely made responsible for the origin of meaning.

Keywords:   perfect design, crash-proof syntax, cascades, rationalist epistemology, knowledge by nature, concepts

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