Bornstein’s paradox (redux)

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The psychologist Marc Bornstein suggested it was surprising that (a) non-linguistic infants demonstrated categorical perception of colour and (b) such categorical perception did not facilitate the learning of colour names (Bornstein 1985). This is “Bornstein’s paradox” and it has been articulated by a number of researchers since 1985. The purpose of this paper is to argue that there is in fact no paradox. Susan Carey’s idea of “core cognition” is extended to colour categorization and it is argued that, if colour is a domain of core cognition, the development from initial infant colour experience need not be continuous with linguistic experience (Carey 2009). This argument makes reference to Carey’s work on object permanence, and number as analogous to colour naming.


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