>But what makes language interesting and useful is that it involves
>words as symbols, that is meanings that are conventional as opposed
>to bilogically given or fixed.
>Does it make sense to suppose that symbolization evolved as a
>genetic change or mutation?
Since there presumably was a time before symbolic thought, and then
it became possible for hominids, the capacity for symbolic thought
was developed. That development had to involve a heritable change in
brain capacity. That heritable brain capacity change probably
involved a heritable change in brain cells of one or many kinds. A
heritable change in brain cells (or any cell) is usually (although
maybe epigenetic change ie. methylation patterns) thought to involve
a genetic change. If this logic is ok, then it would seem a high
probability that symbolic thought has a strong genetic component to
>That seems unlikely to me.
>It is far more likely that symbols were socially invented at some
>stage, so that the difference betweeen symbols would suddeny make
>sense to a whole group.
How does that happen?
>Presumably that required certain preceding biological capacities,
>and also, once symbols were invented, their use might have led to
>further biological changes.
How does that happen?
>But it doesn't follow from that that it makes sense to regard
>language as a genetic endowment.
Why can't the development of language have a genetic component?
> To use the term phenotype to describe language, as if it were just
>like hair color or leg
>length seems uncalled for and tendentious in the extreme.
>"Josť F. Morales" wrote:
>> Sorry, I guess I wasn't clear. This goes back to the discussion of a
>> "progressive" view of biology's role in behavior. More specifically,
>> how do we incorporate this emerging information (ie. Foxp2) into this
>> viewpoint? As time passes, language is going to be an example of
>> another complex phenotype...one that arises from multiple genes and
>> multiple non-genic factors. There will be a genetic 'component' of
>> the basis of language, how do we handle this.
>> I had remembered seeing a report about this and I wanted to post this
>> in response to what you had written Stuart. I thought that they are
> > certainly zeroing in on language as another complex phenotype.
> > Jose
Jose Morales Ph.D.