Over the past forty years, scientists have developed models of human reasoning based on the principle that human languages and classical logic involve fundamentally different concepts and different methods of interpretation. In The Emergence of Meaning Stephen Crain challenges this view, arguing that a common logical nativism underpins human language and logical reasoning. The approach which Crain takes is twofold. Firstly, he uncovers the underlying meanings of logical expressions and logical principles that appear in typologically different languages - English and Mandarin Chinese - and he demonstrates that these meanings and principles directly correspond to the expressions and structures of classical logic. Secondly he reports the findings of new experimental studies which investigate how children acquire the logical concepts of these languages. A step-by-step introduction to logic and a comprehensive review of the literature on child language acquisition make this work accessible to those unfamiliar with either field.
Stephen Crain is a Distinguished Professor at Macquarie University and a fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia. He is also Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders.