COGS 129
Language and the Mind Fall 2023 (also offered Spring 2024)
Division II
Cross-listed PHIL 129

Class Details

Many animals communicate, but only humans can use language. What is language? Is the ability to learn it specialized, or just a matter of having enough cognitive processing power? Do successes of large language models and AI chat bots confirm or challenge traditional linguistic theory? Does language in any way determine, shape, or enable thought? How sophisticated could a mind without language be? Does knowledge of language require consciousness? In this course we will investigate (a) what makes language stand out from other kinds of communication system and (b) what makes human minds uniquely capable of acquiring language. Drawing on debates about the evolution of language, Chomskyian universal grammar, the computational theory of mind, and more, we will explore the philosophical consequences of our existance as linguistic creatures.
The Class: Format: lecture
Limit: 20
Expected: 15
Class#: 1673
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: Short reading responses (approx. 2 pages) every other week, two exams
Prerequisites: None
Enrollment Preferences: Priority given to first and second years
Distributions: Division II
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
COGS 129 Division II PHIL 129 Division II
Attributes: Linguistics

Class Grid

Updated 12:51 pm

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