Minimal Nativism: How does cognitive development get off the ground?


When constructing a mind, what are the basic materials, structures and blueprints a young child has to work with? Are most of the structures already in place, with children merely working to embellish them? Do children begin with several buildings already in place (the Physics Building, the Social Building, the Number building, etc.), and only decorate a bit as they get older, perhaps building bridges between them using language? Such a view might describe a strong innate core hypothesis (Spelke et al., 1994). Or does the child begin with more of an empty plain, and an ability to construct whatever is necessary out of whatever materials are at hand at the time? Such a view might be more along the lines of classic empiricism (Quine, 1964).

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