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The following extract can also be read here: http://2.tvhobo.com and related material and part of the same conversation here: http://24.tvhobo.com
INTERVIEWER: I mean, in a way, this is a rather alarming doctrine. I mean, it certainly contravenes the way we want to feel about ourselves.
CHOMSKY: Well, that may be an immediate reaction, but I think it's not the correct reaction. In fact, while it's true that our genetic program rigidly constrains us, I think the more important point is that the existence of that rigid constraint is what provides the basis for our freedom and creativity. And the reason--
INTERVIEWER: What you mean is it's only because we are pre-programmed that we can do all the things we can do?
CHOMSKY: Exactly. The point is that if we really were plastic organisms without an extensive pre-programming, then the state that our mind achieves would in fact, be a reflection of the environment, which means it would be extraordinarily impoverished.
Fortunately for us, we're rigidly pre-programmed with extremely rich systems that are part of our biological endowment. Correspondingly, a small amount of rather degenerate experience allows a kind of a great leap into a rich cognitive system, essentially uniform in a community, and in fact, roughly uniform for the species.