chapter  17
20 Pages

Mechanisms of Intelligence: Preconditions for Language

In acquiring language one acquires labels for existing concepts; this proposal can be tested with admirable directness in many cases. Can the subject discriminate between conditions that exemplify same and different?, all and none?, red and black?, etc. If so, according to the proposal, it should be possible to teach the subject names for same-different, the quantifiers, and the like .. Not all concepts are as simple as those in the examples, however, and some of them must be approached differently. For instance, in the case of if-then or the conditional relation, we observe that the conditional sentence is a way of expressing a causal relation. "If you drop that, it will break." "If you smile at Mary, she will smile back." "Ifyou touch that, you'll get burned." These sentences and the infinitely many possible like them express a causal relation between the antecedent and the consequent. Only a species that made a causal analysis of its experience would use sentences of this form productively. Hence, in the case of the conditional relation, we designed the test to answer the question, Does the subject make a causal analysis of its experience? To answer this question we used a simple visual test.