By now, 2014 [when Chomsky’s critic Everett appeared], Evolution was more than a theory. It had become embedded in the very anatomy, the very central nervous system of all modern people. Every part, every tendency, of every living creature had evolved from some earlier life form—even if you had to go all the way back to Darwin’s “four or five cells floating in a warm pool somewhere” to find it. A title like “The Mystery of Language Evolution” was instinctive. It went without saying that any “trait” as important as speech had evolved… from something. Everett’s notion that speech had not evolved from anything—it was a “cultural tool” man had made for himself—was unthinkable to the vast majority of modern people. They had all been so deep-steeped in the Theory that anyone casting doubt upon it obviously had the mentality of a Flat Earther or a Methodist. (pp. 253–54)
Wolfe does not sound like an orthodox believer here. He ought not to be thinking for himself like this, ought he?
See also: Tom Wolfe on how speech let humans rule planet: Yet no one has any idea how language started.
Scientific American: Chomsky largely overturned It’s hard not to see this in relation to Tom Wolfe’s recent The Kingdom of Speech, where he sends up Chomsky along with Darwin.
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