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Discussion Details

Title: RE: 15.3318, Disc: Deep Structure/Initial PP
Submitter: Ahmad Reza Lotfi
Description: Dear linguists,

Philip Carr <philip.carr@univ-montp3.fr  wrote:

 Ahmad Lofti's points (Linguist 15.3303) are interesting. We see here an
 attempt to sustain a process-based interpretation of 'psychological
 realism', but defined in terms of parallelism, rather than sequential
 mental operations.
 But it's still a process-based approach, and I find it hard to see how
 that can fit with the idea that one is attempting to characterise
 (Chomskyan) mental *states* ('knowledge'), as opposed to *processes* ('use
 of knowledge').
 One might think that declarative frameworks would be better suited to
 characterising static mental states, rather than mental activities, but
 even with declarative approaches, one sees appeal (implicit or otherwise)
 to the idea of processes (such as structure-building).

Although it may sound too radical (if not absurd!) to some readers, I find
the division of the world into its states and processes rather artificial
(though prhaps still legitimate given man's limitations in understanding
what's going on around/within him): As the world is in permanent motion and
change, it's only the human mind that takes one snapshot out of a process
and terms it a state; a single slide taken away from the film in progress
on the screen for scrutiny. What Chomsky does in characterising mental
states (knowledge of language) is to make this real-time mental process
stand still momentarily in order to see what's going on there. It's a
forced move on the scientist's part to make sense of the reality, but not
the reality itself.
While Chomsky has never claimed his theories to be those of mental
processing/performance but of mental states/competence, the very
terminology he's always employed since ST through GB and finally in MP
strongly suggests he's well aware of the potentialities of his competence
model in paving the way to afford a performance model embracing mental
processing. Given the existing gap between competence and performance(= one
between states and processes), which is due to (a) the complexity of the
world, and (b) our present limitations in seeing what's in the flow rather
in a frame-by-frame presentation of the process, we might decide to
approach Chomskyan ideas cautiously once in the realm of psychological
processing. This does not mean, however, that the potentialities of
generative models should be left unexplored.

Ahmad R. Lotfi

Assistant Professor of linguistics,
Chair of English dept.
Graduate School
Azad University at Khorasgan (IRAN)
Date Posted: 30-Nov-2004
Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories
LL Issue: 15.3342
Posted: 30-Nov-2004

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