Pinker, S. (1994) The Language Instinct . Penguin Books: London.

pp 419-20

"So what are the modules of the human mind?"

"Using biological anthropology, we can look for evidence that a problem is one that our ancestors had to solve in the environments in which they evolved so language and face recognition are at least candidates for innate modules, but reading and driving are not."

Plus, if there is a module for it, a task should seem easy, and we ought to be able to discover a subsystem of the brain that is responsible for it.

Pinker gives the following list of possible innate modules:

  1. Intuitive mechanics: knowledge of the motions, forces, and deformations that objects undergo.

  2. Intuitve biology: understanding of how plants and animals work.

  3. Number.

  4. Mental maps for large territories.

  5. Habitat selection: seeking of safe information-rich, productive environments, generally savannah-like.

  6. Danger, including the emotions of fear and caution, phobias for stimuli such as heights, confinement, risky social encounters, and venomous and predatory animals....

  7. Food: what is good to eat

  8. Contamination, including the emotion of disgust..... intuitions about contagion and disease.

  9. Monitoring of current well being.... happiness and sadness... contentment and restlessness.

  10. Intuitive psychology: predicting other peoples' behaviour from their beliefs and desires.

  11. A mental Roladex: a database of individuals, with blanks for kinship, status, history of exchange of favours.

  12. Self-concept: ..organizing information about one's value to other people, and packaging it for others.

  13. Justice: sense of rights, obligations, .. including the emotions of anger and revenge.

  14. Kinship, including nepotism and parenting

  15. Mating, including feelings of sexual attraction, love, and intentions of fidelity and desertion.