Beyond Human Nature by Jesse J. Prinz [Book Review]

Philosophy Now 108:47-49 (2015)
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The nature-nurture debate rages so, one cannot help but wonder why the sides are so vehemently partitioned. What's at stake? It is simply not clear why a great amount of people embrace either one side or the other, but dare not even blow a kiss to the opposite opinion. Prinz does an excellent job of arguing for the nurture position, zeroing in on some of the most preciously held nature arguments including the basis of knowledge, thought, and feelings in experience and cultural values, increasing as a child grows. Most prominent of the nature hypoth├Ęses that Prinz takes on may be that of language acquisition and the Chomskyean notion of inborn lingusitic knowledge, via the proposed universal language. He contends that children's language acquisition--even the notion that the supposed inborn language device shuts off somewhere in mid-childhood, meaning most people will not be fully bilingual--need not demand such a natural language faculty in the brain, as general learning strategies can account for language acquisition. His arguments can stimulate both nurturists and naturists. Yet, in the end--realizing how much of the human arise from the genes--one still cannot help wonder why the two debated positions so rally to one flag or the other.
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