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Auteur: Rie ASANO

Biolinguistics and Biomusicology: Investigating the evolution of human cognitive systems and their 'humaniqueness'

Abstract/Résumé: Research on language evolution and questions of human uniqueness are often strongly intertwined. For example, Hauser, Chomsky and Fitch (2002: HCF) emphasized uniquely human capacity of discrete infinity, assumed to be the basis of expressiveness and open-ended power of the human cognitive system ‘language’. To investigate the cognitive system yielding linguistic discrete infinity, they delineate two concepts of the faculty of language (FL), which have provided many fruitful discussions, with some proposals that research should be extended to a more comparative approach including other cognitive systems. To revise the framework of HCF, I discuss two proposals pointing out different aspects of language evolution as promising: domain general uniquely human core computations (humaniqueness: Hauser, 2009) and unique components of each cognitive system (Jackendoff, 2010). These considerations provide a necessity to differentiate human cognitive evolution and the evolution of a particular cognitive system ‘language’. By comparing ‘language’ with another cognitive system ‘music’ assumed to share some components, I offer a framework in which both proposals contrasted above can be investigated in parallel: the evolution of language and music should be explored in terms of uniquely human domain general core computations yielding a human creative property discrete infinity (human cognition in the narrow sense; Boeckx, 2012) and interface systems unique to each cognitive system. To support this comparative framework, similarities and differences of these two cognitive systems are discussed along findings from biolinguistics and biomusicology. Focusing on the similarities revealing the nature of humaniqueness, I sustain the idea that the emergence of a ‘cognitively fluid’ mentality in the course of human evolution was a keystone in human cognitive evolution (Mithen, 1996). Boeckx, C. (2012). Homo Combinans. In T. C. Scott-Phillips et al. (Eds.), Evolution of the Language. Proceeding of the 9th International Conference (EVOLANG9) (413-415). New Jersey: World Scientific. Hauser, M. D. (2009). The possibility of impossible cultures. Nature, 460, 190-196. Hauser, M. D., Chomsky, N., & Fitch, W. T. (2002). The Faculty of Language: What Is It, Who Has It, and How Did It Evolve? Science, 298, 1569-1579. Jackendoff, R. (2010). Your theory of language evolution depends on your theory of language. In R. K. Larson et al. (Eds.), The Evolution of Human Language: Biolinguistic Perspectives (63-72). Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press. Mithen, S. (1996). The Prehistory of the Mind: A Search for the Origins of Art, Religion and Science. London: Thames & Hudson Ltd.