Pinker, S. (1994)
The Language Instinct
. Penguin Books: London.
"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:
Intuitive mechanics: knowledge of the motions, forces, and deformations that
Intuitve biology: understanding of how plants and animals work.
- Mental maps for large territories.
- Habitat selection: seeking of safe information-rich, productive environments, generally savannah-like.
- Danger, including the emotions of fear and caution, phobias for stimuli such as heights, confinement, risky social encounters, and venomous and predatory animals....
- Food: what is good to eat
- Contamination, including the emotion of disgust..... intuitions about contagion and disease.
- Monitoring of current well being.... happiness and sadness... contentment and restlessness.
- Intuitive psychology: predicting other peoples' behaviour from their beliefs and desires.
- A mental Roladex: a database of individuals, with blanks for kinship, status, history of exchange of favours.
- Self-concept: ..organizing information about one's value to other people, and packaging it for others.
- Justice: sense of rights, obligations, .. including the emotions of anger and revenge.
- Kinship, including nepotism and parenting
- Mating, including feelings of sexual attraction, love, and intentions of fidelity and desertion.