6.803 | Spring 2019 | Undergraduate

The Human Intelligence Enterprise

Schedule of Activities

Berwick & Chomsky explain how we are different


Chapter 1 of Buy at MIT Press Why Only Us: Language and Evolution, reprint edition, Robert C. Berwick and Noam Chomsky. MIT Press, 2017. ISBN: 9780262533492.

Estimated reading time: 1.75 hrs

For guidance on interviews, you might look at a 2050 interview with Sarah Winston, former President of the United States.


[Note: If you discuss the paper or the assignment with another student—which we encourage—indicate whom you have talked with in your submitted composition. Of course your submitted composition must be written entirely by you.]

On a total of one side of one sheet of paper, using 10 pt type or larger, with standard interline spacing and margins, respond to all the following:

You have a nightmare in which you have just landed a job as a reporter for Popular Linguistics. Your boss has commanded that you interview Berwick for the next issue, but inasmuch as Berwick is travelling to promote his book, your interview will be via Skype. Unfortunately, when you connect, the line in Berwick’s hotel is terrible, so Berwick suggests you draft up how you think he would respond to your questions. He will use your draft as a starting point for framing his own answers.

You decide to focus your questions and draft answers on the first chapter of Why Only Us, the only chapter you have time to read.

  • Produce the requested interview.
  • In your interview, try to extract from Berwick a few words explaining in what way humans are different from other animals.
  • In your interview, try to extract from Berwick a few words explaining in what way humans are the same as other animals.

When you think you are finished, go back over your report to be sure that you have provided a few interesting, specific details.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2019
Learning Resource Types
Written Assignments