Methodological bases of a progressive mentalism

  • Rudolf P. Botha Stellenbosch University


Is it "legitimate" and "proper" to "impute existence to" or "attribute psychological reality ~o" the theoretical constructs of linguistic theories? This is one of the main questions considered by Chomsky in his recent article "On the biological basis of language capacities" (1976) • Chomsky's discussion of this question may be seen as an attempt to clarify and justify the methodological bases of mentalistic linguistics. That these methodological bases are in need of clarification and justification has been argued over the years by various scholars. (1) Moreover, Katz (1977:564) has recently admitted that he does not fully understand Chomsky's position on the psychological reality of grammars. This admission by Katz is particularly significant. (2) Recall that Chomsky and Katz co-authored a paper in which they attempt, among other things, to explicate the sense in which grammars may be claimed to be psychologically real.