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date: 22 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

As with other technical natural science terms, ‘Universal Grammar’ or ‘UG’ is defined not by ordinary usage, but within a science. While the methodological foundations (where to look, and how) of the natural science of language were laid in the 17th century, it is only with the advent of formal tools due to Church, Turing, and others in the 1930s and the efforts of Chomsky from the 1950s on that that science came to fruition. In this chapter, I outline the brief history of the technical term UG and assess the progress of the natural science of language. And as Chomsky does in his ‘Cartesian Linguistics,’ while acknowledging Descartes’s many errors, I sketch his lasting contributions to natural science method and to the nativist and internalist scientific study of the mind.

Keywords: natural science (of language), nativism, internalism, Descartes, Cartesian Linguistics, history (of a science), methodology, scientific theory

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