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ERIC Number: EJ1133952
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2017
Pages: 24
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1547-5441
Core Knowledge, Language, and Number
Spelke, Elizabeth S.
Language Learning and Development, v13 n2 p147-170 2017
The natural numbers may be our simplest, most useful, and best-studied abstract concepts, but their origins are debated. I consider this debate in the context of the proposal, by Gallistel and Gelman, that natural number system is a product of cognitive evolution and the proposal, by Carey, that it is a product of human cultural history. I offer a third proposal that builds on aspects of these views but rejects one tenet that they share: the thesis that counting is central to number. I suggest that children discover the natural numbers when they learn a natural language: especially nouns, number words, and the rules that compose quantified noun phrases. This learning, in turn, depends both on cognitive systems that are innate and shared by other animals, and on our species-specific language faculty. Thus, natural number concepts are unique to humans and culturally universal, yet they are learned.
Psychology Press. Available from: Taylor & Francis, Ltd. 325 Chestnut Street Suite 800, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Tel: 800-354-1420; Fax: 215-625-2940; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Science Foundation (NSF)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: DRL1348140; CCF1231216