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The Question

the question

This module is based on a simple question.
The question is,
How do humans first come to know about---and to knowingly manipulate---objects, causes, words, numbers, colours, actions and minds?
We are going to approach this question by examining the evidence from developmental science, exploring how it bears on philosophical positions like nativism and empiricsm, and identifying philosophical problems created by the evidence.
At the outset we know nothing, or not very much. (Like Lucas here.)
Sometime later we do know some things.
How does the transition occur?
This is not a new question. There is a family of questions about the origins of mind that philosophers have been asking since Plato or before.

‘... ’tis past doubt, that Men have in their Minds several Ideas, such as are those expressed by the words, Whiteness, Hardness, ... and others: It is in the first place to be enquired, How he comes by them?’\citep[p.\ 104]{Locke:1975qo}

(Locke 1689)

‘How does it come about that the development of organic behavior into controlled inquiry brings about the differentiation and cooperation of observational and conceptual operations?’\citep[p.\ 12]{Dewey:1938yp}

(Dewey 1938, p. 12)

‘the fundamental explicandum, is the organism and its propositional attitudes ... Cognitive psychologists accept ... the ... necessity of explaining how organisms come to have the attitudes to propositions that they do.’\citep[p.\ 198]{Fodor:1975pb}

(Fodor 1975, p.\ 198)

Fodor mentions cognitive psychologists rather than philosophers. We will need to face up to the question of why philosophers are asking this question about the origins of knowledge, why is isn't just a scientific question. But that's something for later.