mechanism that implements the displacement property". That, to the extent that it isconfirmed or accepted under current criteria, is OK. But it strikes me as a move of adifferent nature to go from that to conceiving "the displacement property as being forced bylegibility conditions". For it would seem to me that the legibility conditions are not"conditions" at all, but simply functions of the displacement feature on externalenvironments.I don't find it problematic to conceive of human language as an organ or system, but I findit problematic to conceive of functions of this organ as another organ or system. (I think this might remove the bothersome notion of "optimal design")More radically: is there any need for a conceptual system? Doesn't semantics, rather, dealwith a wild variety of functions performed by the language faculty? There is a visualsystem, but not a system of seeing. That is, the multiplicity of visual functions cannot bethe object of a theory, but, simply, or at best, of description. Vision is the organic system.The (endless variety of) visual performances, "seeing", are functions of the system.Likewise, language is the system and "meaning" names a wild variety of functions of thissystem.Roughly, this is how the topic connects with Wittgenstein. His insights, at times openlyframed as frustrations about the impossibility of being part of a theory of language, move inareas of linguistic functions. And we can't hope for any theory on functions of the humanfaculties, but mere descriptions. This fine analyst found himself in a world of fragments,specific meaning functions, meaningful in particular contexts; a world where no theory is possible. As the man of genius he was, he managed to say much about it, a matter we canset aside for now.
B. Noam Chomsky:
The way I've been looking at the matter is essentially this. I think there is by now overwhelming evidence that there is a distinctive faculty of language FL,one of the many modules of mind/brain, with its own specific properties. I'm taking a"language" L to be a state of FL. L generates an infinite set of expressions EXP, each astructured complex of representations of sound and meaning, let's say a (PF,LF) pair,"representation" of course not having the connotations of the philosophical literature and itsspecial usage -- there need not be anything (and indeed, there apparently isn't anything)"represented" in the sense, say, of theories of ideas.To be usable at all, the expressions (at least, a large enough set of them, which we can taketo be infinite) must be accessible to the systems of language use: at least, the sensorimotor systems and the systems of thought and conceptual organization. Conventionalassumptions, with traditional roots, are that PF is accessible to the sensorimotor systems,LF to the others (I think this is almost surely inadequate or wrong, but we can take it as astarting point, as has been done implicitly, in some form, for thousands of years). That is aminimal condition of usability for FL. These "external" systems (external to FL, not to the person) have their own properties, independently of language. These properties thereforeimpose "minimal design specifications" for FL: it must satisfy at least these, or it won't be