FACTOID # 23: Wisconsin has more metal fabricators per capita than any other state.
 
 Home   Encyclopedia   Statistics   States A-Z   Flags   Maps   FAQ   About 
   
 
WHAT'S NEW
 

SEARCH ALL

FACTS & STATISTICS    Advanced view

Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

 

 

(* = Graphable)

 

 


Encyclopedia > Jerry Fodor
Western Philosophy
20th-century philosophy
Jerry Fodor
Name: Jerry Alan Fodor
Birth: 1935 (United States)
School/tradition: analytic philosophy, rationalism, cognitivism, functionalism
Main interests: philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, cognitive science
Notable ideas: modularity of mind, language of thought
Influences: Jerome Bruner, Franz Joseph Gall, Noam Chomsky
Influenced: Ernest Lepore, Zenon Pylyshyn, Murat Aydede, Steven Pinker

Jerry Alan Fodor (born 1935) is a philosopher at Rutgers University, New Jersey. Fodor is a major proponent of functionalism and opponent of inferential role semantics. The 20th century brought with it upheavals that produced a series of conflicting developments within philosophy over the basis of knowledge and the validity of various absolutes. ... Image File history File links Fodor. ... 1935 (MCMXXXV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will take you to calendar). ... Analytic philosophy is the dominant philosophical movement in University philosophy departments in English-speaking countries and in Scandinavia, although one of its founders, Gottlob Frege, was German, and many of its leading proponents, such as Ludwig Wittgenstein, Rudolf Carnap, Kurt Gödel, Karl Popper, Hans Reichenbach, Herbert Feigl, Otto Neurath... Rationalism, also known as the rationalist movement, is a philosophical doctrine that asserts that the truth can best be discovered by reason and factual analysis, rather than faith, dogma or religious teaching. ... The word cognitivism is used in several ways: In ethics, cognitivism is the philosophical view that ethical sentences express propositions, and hence are capable of being true or false. ... Functionalism is a term with several senses: For functionalism in sociology, see Functionalism (sociology). ... A Phrenological mapping of the brain. ... Philosophy of language is the branch of philosophy that studies language. ... Rendering of human brain based on MRI data Cognitive science is usually defined as the scientific study either of mind or of intelligence (e. ... A typical phrenology chart depicts the modules of the human mind as compartmentalised physical locations in the brain. ... Fodors language of thought (LOT) hypothesis states that cognition is a process of computation over compositional mental representations. ... Jerome S. Bruner (b. ... Franz Joseph Gall (March 9, 1758 - August 22, 1828) was a German neuroanatomist and physiologist who was a pioneer in the study of the localization of mental functions in the brain. ... Noam Chomsky Avram Noam Chomsky (b. ... Steven Pinker Steven Arthur Pinker (born September 18, 1954, in Montreal, Canada) is a prominent American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist and popular science writer known for his spirited and wide-ranging defence of evolutionary psychology and the computational theory of mind. ... 1935 (MCMXXXV) was a common year starting on Tuesday (link will take you to calendar). ... A philosopher is a person who thinks deeply regarding people, society, the world, and/or the universe. ... Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey is the largest institution for higher education in the U.S. state of New Jersey. ... Official language(s) None, English de facto Capital Trenton Largest city Newark Area  Ranked 47th  - Total 8,729 sq mi (22,608 km²)  - Width 70 miles (110 km)  - Length 150 miles (240 km)  - % water 14. ... Functionalism is the dominant theory of mental states in modern philosophy. ... Inferential role semantics is an approach to the theory of meaning associated closely with accounts of proof-theoretic semantics in the semantics of logic into work as the foundational formalism of logic. ...


He is the author of many groundbreaking books in the fields of philosophy of mind and cognitive science, where he laid the groundwork for the modularity of mind and the language of thought thesis. Fodor is also well known for his arguments against reductionism. A Phrenological mapping of the brain. ... Rendering of human brain based on MRI data Cognitive science is usually defined as the scientific study either of mind or of intelligence (e. ... A typical phrenology chart depicts the modules of the human mind as compartmentalised physical locations in the brain. ... Fodors language of thought (LOT) hypothesis states that cognition is a process of computation over compositional mental representations. ... Reductionism in philosophy describes a number of related, contentious theories that hold, very roughly, that the nature of complex things can always be reduced to (be explained by) simpler or more fundamental things. ...

Contents


Biography

Jerry Fodor received his A.B. degree (summa cum laude) from Columbia University in 1956 and a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Princeton University in 1960 under the direction of Hilary Putnam. From 1959-1986, Fodor was on the faculty of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts. From 1986-1988, he was a full professor at the City University of New York (CUNY). Since 1988 he has been State of New Jersey Professor of Philosophy and Cognitive Science at Rutgers University in New Jersey. Columbia University is a private university in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City and a member of the Ivy League. ... 1956 (MCMLVI) was a leap year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Princeton University is a coeducational private university located on an extensive campus mostly in the Borough of Princeton and partly in the Princeton Township in New Jersey, United States. ... 1960 (MCMLX) was a leap year starting on Friday (the link is to a full 1960 calendar). ... Hilary Whitehall Putnam (born July 31, 1926) is a key figure in the philosophy of mind during the 20th century. ... The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, or MIT, is a private research university located in the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. MIT is one of the worlds leading research institutions in science and technology. ... Cambridge City Hall Settled: 1630 â€“ Incorporated: 1636 Zip Code(s): 02139 â€“ Area Code(s): 617 / 857 Official website: http://www. ... The City University of New York (CUNY; acronym pronounced kyoo-nee), is the public university system of New York City. ... Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey is the largest institution for higher education in the U.S. state of New Jersey. ... Official language(s) None, English de facto Capital Trenton Largest city Newark Area  Ranked 47th  - Total 8,729 sq mi (22,608 km²)  - Width 70 miles (110 km)  - Length 150 miles (240 km)  - % water 14. ...


One of Fodor's most notable colleagues at Rutgers, the well-known New Mysterian philosopher Colin McGinn has described Fodor in these words: New Mysterianism is a philosophy proposing that certain problems (in particular, consciousness) will never be explained or at the least cannot be explained by the human mind at its current evolutionary stage. ... Colin McGinn (born 1950) is a British philosopher at Rutgers University, soon to be transferring to the University of Miami, because he wants to surf year-round (or so he told The Chronicle of Higher Education). ...

Around the time [1988] Rutgers was establishing itself as a major center for philosophy, making a number of senior appointments of first-rate people. Their chief coup was hiring Jerry Fodor and attaching him to the cognitive science department as well as the philosophy department. Fodor (who is now a close friend) is a gentle man inside a burly body, and prone to an even burlier style of arguing. He is shy and voluble at the same time, a cat lover and a philosopher slayer. He is a formidable polemicist burdened with a sensitive soul. He likes to refute his opponents into an early grave in the afternoon and then quiver at the opera in the evening. Disagreeing with Jerry on a philosophical issue, especially one dear to his heart can be a chastening experience; even when he is most wrong he seems to be winning the argument. His quickness of mind, inventiveness, and sharp wit are not to be tangled with before your first cup of coffee in the morning. Well, adding Jerry Fodor to the faculty at Rutgers instantly put it on the map, Fodor being by common consent the leading philosopher of mind in the world today. I had met him in England in the seventies and spent a good amount of time with him in New York during my sabbatical there. I found him to be the genuine article, intellectually speaking (though we do not always see eye to eye). [1]

Fodor is a member of the honorary societies Phi Beta Kappa and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He has received numerous awards and honors: New York State Regent's Fellow, Woodrow Wilson Fellow (Princeton University), Chancellor Greene Fellow (Princeton University), Fullbright Fellow (Oxford University), Fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in The Behavioral Sciences, and Guggenheim Fellow.


Fodor and the nature of mental states

See supplement, Jerry Fodor on mental states [[{{{2}}}]] and [[{{{3}}}]] [[{{{4}}}]], [[{{{5}}}]] and [[{{{6}}}]] [[{{{7}}}]], [[{{{8}}}]], [[{{{9}}}]] and [[{{{10}}}]].

In his book Propositional Attitudes (1978), Fodor presented one of the fundamental conceptual bases of his thought: the idea that mental states consist in relations between individuals and mental representations. Despite the changes which have characterized some of his theoretical positions over the years, the idea that intentional attitudes are relational has remained unchanged from its first formulations up to the present time. [2] Jerry Fodors views on the nature of mental states emerge out of his rejection of two traditional competing hypotheses which are summarized (along with his criticisms) in this artcile. ... Intentionality, originally a concept from scholastic philosophy, was reintroduced in contemporary philosophy by the philosopher and psychologist Franz Brentano in his work Psychologie vom Empirischen Standpunkte. ...


In that book, he attempts to show how mental representations (specifically sentences in the language of thought or LOT) are necessary in order to explain the relational nature of mental states. Fodor takes into consideration two alternative hypotheses: one which denies the relational character of mental states and one which considers mental states to be two-place relations (either between individuals and sentences of natural languages or between individuals and abstract propositions). Fodor's own option emerges out of the contrast of these two positions. His idea is that in order to properly account for the nature of intentional attitudes, it is necessary to employ a three-place relation (between individuals, representations and propositional contents) founded on a concept of mental representation. Fodors language of thought (LOT) hypothesis states that cognition is a process of computation over compositional mental representations. ... Proposition is a term used in logic to describe the content of assertions. ...


Considering mental states to be triadic relations, representative realism makes it possible, according to Fodor, to hold together all of the elements necessary to the solution of the problem, putting an end to the questions generated by the alternative conceptions. Mental representations, moreover, are not only the immediate objects of beliefs, but also constitute the domain over which mental processes operate. From this perspective, they can be considered the ideal conjunctive link between the formal/syntactic conception of content and the computational conception of the functional architecture which represents, according to Fodor, our best explanation of mental processes. Representative Theory of Perception is a philosophical concept, largely developed by Bertrand Russell. ...


The functional architecture of the mind

A typical phrenology chart which shows the modules as being precise physical locations on the brain
Enlarge
A typical phrenology chart which shows the modules as being precise physical locations on the brain
See supplement, Jerry Fodor on mental architecture [[{{{2}}}]] and [[{{{3}}}]] [[{{{4}}}]], [[{{{5}}}]] and [[{{{6}}}]] [[{{{7}}}]], [[{{{8}}}]], [[{{{9}}}]] and [[{{{10}}}]].

Fodor's well-known nativism, or belief in the innateness of many cognitive functions and concepts, emerges—following along the general path plowed by the linguistics of Noam Chomsky—from the criticism of behaviourism and associationism. His criticisms of these views led him to the formulation (or re-formulation) of the hypothesis of the modularity of the mind. Image File history File links 180px-Phrenologychart. ... Image File history File links 180px-Phrenologychart. ... A 19th century Phrenology chart Phrenology (from Greek: φρήν, phrÄ“n, mind; and λόγος, logos, logic) is a theory which claims to be able to determine character, personality traits, and criminality on the basis of the shape of the head (reading bumps). Developed by German physician Franz Joseph Gall around 1800, and... Jerry Fodor is notable for his important and influential ideas on a hypothesized structure of the mind or, what has often been called, mental architecture. ... In the field of psychology, nativism is the view that certain skills or abilities are native or hard wired into the brain at birth. ... Noam Chomsky Avram Noam Chomsky (b. ... Behaviorism (or behaviourism) is an approach to psychology based on the proposition that behavior is interesting and worthy of scientific research. ... In the philosophy of mind, associationism began as a theory about how ideas combine in the mind. ... Modularity of Mind is the notion that a mind may be composed of modules, at least in part. ...


Historically, questions regarding the functional architecture of the mind have been divided into two different theories of the nature of the faculties. The first can be characterized as a horizontal view because it refers to mental processes as if they are interactions between faculties - such as memory, imagination, judgement, and perception - which are not domain specific (e.g., a judgement remains a judgement whether it refers to a perceptual experience or to the comprehension of language). The second can be characterized as a vertical view because it claims that the mental faculties are differentiated on the basis of domain specificity, are genetically determined, are associated with distinct neurological structures, and are computationally autonomous.


The vertical vision goes back to the 19th century movement called phrenology and its founder Franz Joseph Gall, who claimed that the individual mental faculties could be associated precisely, in a sort of one to one correspondence, with specific physical areas of the brain. Hence, someone's level of intelligence, for example, could be literally "read off" from the size of a particular bump on his posterior parietal lobe. This simplistic view of modularity has, of course, been disproven over the course of the last century. A 19th century Phrenology chart Phrenology (from Greek: φρήν, phrēn, mind; and λόγος, logos, logic) is a theory which claims to be able to determine character, personality traits, and criminality on the basis of the shape of the head (reading bumps). Developed by German physician Franz Joseph Gall around 1800, and... Franz Joseph Gall (March 9, 1758 - August 22, 1828) was a German neuroanatomist and physiologist who was a pioneer in the study of the localization of mental functions in the brain. ...


However, Fodor, revived the idea of the modularity of mind, without the notion of precise physical localizability of the mental faculties, in the 1980s and became one of the most articulate proponents for it with the 1983 publication of his monograph Modularity of Mind. [3] 1983 (MCMLXXXIII) was a common year starting on Saturday of the Gregorian calendar. ... A monograph is a scholarly book or a treatise on a single subject or a group of related subjects. ...


Two properties of modularity in particular, informational encapsulation and the specificity of domains, make it possible to tie together the questions of functional architecture with the theme of mental content: the capacity to elaborate information independently from the background beliefs of individuals allows Fodor to hypothesize a mechanism capable of accounting for an atomistic conception of mental content. In natural philosophy, atomism is the theory that all the objects in the universe are composed of very small, indestructible elements - atoms. ...


That is, guaranteeing that mental processes are (at least in part) independent from theories means opening the door to the possibility of a non-holistic (atomistic and casual) notion of mental content. Such a conception is necessary for Fodor in order to safeguard representational realism and, at the same time, attempt to solve the problems left open by methodological solipsism. The idea, in other words, is that the properties of the contents of mental states can depend, rather than exclusively on the internal relations of the system of which they are a part (the set of beliefs, for example), also on the causal relations with the world. Methodological Solipsism is the view, in philosophy of mind and cognitive psychology, that the mental states or properties of an organism can be individuated exclusively on the basis of that state or propertys relations with other internal states of the organism itself, without any reference to the society or...


Intentional realism

In A Theory of Content and Other Essays, published by the MIT Press in 1990, Fodor takes up another of his most central notions with regard to the philosophy of mind: the question of representational realism.[4] Fodor needs to justify representational realism in order to justify the idea that the contents of mental states are expressed in symbolic structures of a propositional nature such as LOT. Such a justification is of enormous interest because it has immediate repercussions on some of the more general aspects of Fodor’s theory of the mental domain. Representative Theory of Perception is a philosophical concept, largely developed by Bertrand Russell. ...


Fodor's criticism of Dennett

Fodor’s representational realism emerges out of his criticism of standard realism (which Fodor calls mere intentional realism). This latter view is characterized by two distinct assertions: one regarding the internal structure of mental states (according to which intentional attitudes are monadic in the sense described earlier) and another which concerns the fundamental conditions of a semantic theory (interpretable in terms of an isomorphism between causal roles and the inferential web). In the modern panorama of philosophy of mind, in which the functionalist view tends to prevail, the majority view seems to be that the first of these two assertions is false, but that the second is true. Fodor departs from functionalism in accepting the truth of the first thesis but rejecting (strongly) the truth of the second. Fodor’s argument in favour of representational realism starts from his criticism of the instrumentalism of Daniel Dennett. Dennett maintains that it is possible to be realist with regard to intentional states without having to commit oneself to the reality of mental representations. [5]But, according to Fodor, if one remains at this level of analysis, then there is no possibility of explaining why the intentional strategy works: In the philosophy of science, instrumentalism is the view that concepts and theories are merely useful instruments whose worth is measured not by whether the concepts and theories are true or false (or correctly depict reality), but how effective they are in explaining and predicting phenomena. ... Daniel Dennett Daniel Clement Dennett (born March 28, 1942 in Boston) is a prominent American philosopher. ...

"There is, nevertheless, a standard objection to instrumentalism...: it is difficult to explain why the psychology of beliefs/desires works so well, if the psychology of beliefs/desires is, in fact, false....As Putnam, Boyd and others have emphasized, from the predictive successes of a theory to the truth of that theory there is surely a presumed inference; and this is even more likely when (differently from the case of geocentric astronomy) we are dealing with the only theory in play which is predictively crowned with success. It is not obvious...why such a presumption should not militate in favour of a realist conception—against an instrumentalist one---of the interpretations of beliefs/desires." [6]

Productivity, compositionality and thought

But what are Fodor’s positive arguments in favour of the reality of mental representations in terms of the LOT? Fodor maintains that if language is the expression of thoughts and language is systematic, then thoughts must also be systematic. Systematicity in natural languages tends to be explained in term of two ulterior concepts: productivity and compositionality. The fact that systematicity and productivity depend on the compositional structure of language means that language has a combinatorial semantics. If thought also has a combinatorial semantics, then there must be a language of thought (i.e., thought must be in a kind of language). The Principle of Compositionality in semantics is the principle that the meaning of a complex expression is determined by the meanings of its constituent expressions and the rules used to combine them. ...


These arguments serve to sustain the thesis of representational realism: not only intentional objects, but even the cognitive states in which such specific content occur are structured events. Representations must therefore exist. Moreover, they must have a specific format: they must be formulae of Mentalese, mental sentences whose syntax gives rise to the combinatorial semantics of the content which they vehicle. Fodors language of thought (LOT) hypothesis states that cognition is a process of computation over compositional mental representations. ...


The second argument that Fodor provides in favour of representational realism involves the processes of thought. This argument touches on the relation between the representational theory of mind (RTM, from now on) and models of its functional architecture. To assert that the sentences of Mentalese require peculiar processes of elaboration is to assert that they require a computational mechanism of a certain type. The syntactic conception of mental representations goes hand in hand with the computational theory of the mind: the idea that mental processes consist in calculations which act only on the form of the symbols which they elaborate. The computational theory of the mind (CTM) is based on a precise mechanical conception of thought based on Turing machines. Hence, the defence of a model of architecture which explicitly invokes classic artificial intelligence passes inevitably, according to Fodor, through a defence of the reality of mental representations. The Turing machine is an abstract machine introduced in 1936 by Alan Turing to give a mathematically precise definition of algorithm or mechanical procedure. As such it is still widely used in theoretical computer science, especially in complexity theory and the theory of computation. ...


Moreover, the formal-mechanical conception of thought processes has the advantage of highlighting the important parallelism between the causal role of symbols and the contents which they express. The theory which emerges goes hand in glove with the theory of the LOT, in fact, because it goes hand in glove with the syntactic theory of the mind (syntax is that which plays the role of mediation between the causal role of the symbols and the content which they vehicle). The advantage of a conception of this type is that the semantic relations between symbols can be "imitated" by their syntactic relations (the inferential relations which connect the contents of two symbols can be imitated by the syntax which regulates the derivation of one symbol from another).


Fodor's externalism

The fact that the LOT fits perfectly with the idea of a von Neumann type functional architecture of the mind is an important step forward toward the naturalization of the mental. Fodor acknowledges the cardinal role of functionalism in the direction of this process of naturalization, but he is also conscious of what he considers to be the intrinsic limits of that hypothesis. The principle defect consist in the fact that functionalism, if left unmodified, implies a conception of content (and meaning) which, focused exclusively on the causal relation between one symbol and another, remains totally internal to the symbolic system. The advantage of a conception of this type is that it makes it easier to formulate and explain a materialistic conception of the mental. The disadvantage is that it leaves out completely a non-secondary aspect of the project of naturalization of the mental: the justification of a theory of mental content (and of meaning) which takes account of the relation between representer and represented (which explains how it is possible that our representations can refer to the external world). Having abandoned his original position of methodological solipsism, Fodor more recently has maintained that functionalism, at least in its traditional form, can explain only some aspects of mental content and that it cannot be placed at the foundation of an entire semantic theory. He has become increasingly externalist in this regard. A separate article covers Saint John Neumann, the American priest. ... Methodological Solipsism is the view, in philosophy of mind and cognitive psychology, that the mental states or properties of an organism can be individuated exclusively on the basis of that state or propertys relations with other internal states of the organism itself, without any reference to the society or...


The nature of content

From the beginning of the 1980’s, Fodor has adhered to a causal conception of mental content (and of meaning). This conception of content contrasts sharply with some of the basic assumptions of the inferential role semantics to which Fodor himself subscribed earlier in his career. The focal point of Fodor’s criticism of inferential (or conceptual) role semantics (IRS) is that while any true naturalization of the mental must inevitably include an explanation of content in atomistic terms, IRS has inevitably holistic implications. Inferential role semantics is an approach to the theory of meaning associated closely with accounts of proof-theoretic semantics in the semantics of logic into work as the foundational formalism of logic. ...


Anti-holism

Fodor’s criticisms of holism are many and various. But he identifies the central problem with all the different notions of holism as the idea that the determining factor in semantic evaluation is the notion of an “epistemic bond” (P is an epistemic bond of Q if the semantic value of P is considered by an intentional system to be relevant for the semantic evaluation of Q). Meaning holism strictly depends on this notion. The identity of the content of a mental state (the identity of meaning), under holism, can only be determined by the totality of its epistemic bonds . And this makes the realism of mental states an impossibility:

"If, as is certain, people differ in an absolutely general way in their estimations of epistemic relevance, and if we follow the holism of meaning and individuate intentional states by way of the totality of their epistemic bonds, the consequence will be that two people (or, for that matter, two temporal sections of the same person) will never be in the same intentional state. Therefore, two people can never be subsumed under the same intentional generalizations. And, therefore, intentional generalization can never be successful. And, therefore again, there is no hope for an intentional psychology." [7]

The asymmetric causal theory

Having criticized the idea that semantic evaluation concerns the internal relations between the units of a symbolic system, the way is open for Fodor to adopt an externalist position with respect to mental content and meaning. For Fodor, in recent years, the problem of naturalization of the mental is tied to the possibility of presenting “the sufficient conditions for which a piece of the world is relative to (expresses, represents, is true of) another piece” in non-intentional and non semantic terms. If this goal is to be attained within a representational theory of the mind, then the fundamental challenge for the causal theory is to establish the interpretation of the primitive non-logical symbols of the LOT. Fodor’s initial proposal is that what determines that the symbol for “water” in Mentalese expresses the property H20 is that the occurrences of that symbol are in certain causal relations with water. The intuitive (or naïve) version of this causal theory is what Fodor calls the “Crude Causal Theory.” According to this theory, the occurrences of symbols express the properties which are the causes of their occurrence. The term “horse”, for example, says of a horse that it is a horse. In order to do this, it is necessary and sufficient that certain properties of an occurrence of the symbol “horse” be in a nomological relation with certain properties which determine that something is an occurrence of horse. Recently internalism and externalism have become part of the standard jargon of philosophical discourse, and have become central to certain important debates. ...


The main problem with this theory is that of erroneous representations. There are two unavoidable problems with the idea that "a symbol expresses a property if it is nomologically necessary that all and only the presences of such a property cause the occurrences." The first is that not all horses cause occurrences of horse. The second is that not only horses cause occurrences of horse. Sometimes the A(horses) are caused by A (horses), but at other times---when, for example, because of the distance or conditions of low visibility, one has confused a cow for a horse—the A (horses) are caused by B (cows). In this case the symbol A doesn’t express just the property A, but the disjunction of properties A or B. The crude causal theory is therefore incapable of distinguishing the case in which the content of a symbol is disjunctive from the case in which it isn’t. This gives rise to what Fodor calls the "problem of disjunction."


Fodor responds to this problem with what he defines as a "a slightly less crude causal theory." According to this approach, it is necessary to break the symmetry at the base of the crude causal theory. Fodor must find some criterion for distinguishing the occurrences of A caused by As (true) from those caused by Bs (false). The point of departure, according to Fodor, is that while the false cases are ontologically dependent on the true cases, the reverse is not true. There is an asymmetry of dependence , in other words, between the true contents (A= A) and the false ones (A = A or B). The first can subsist independently of the second, but the second can occur only because of the existence of the first:

From the point of view of semantics, errors must be accidents: if in the extension of "horse" there are no cows, then it cannot be required for the meaning of "horse" that cows be called horses. On the other hand, if "horse" did not mean that which it means, and if it were an error for horses, it would never be possible for a cow to be called "horse." Putting the two things together, it can be seen that the possibility of falsely saying "this is a horse" presupposes the existence of a semantic basis for saying it truly, but not vice versa. If we put this in terms of the crude causal theory, the fact that cows cause one to say "horse" depends on the fact that horses cause one to say "horse"; but the fact that horses cause one to say "horse" does not depend on the fact that cows cause one to say "horse"..." [4]

Functionalism

During the 1960's, various philosophers such as Donald Davidson, Hilary Putnam, and Fodor tried to resolve the puzzle of developing a way to preserve the explanatory efficacy of mental causation and so-called "folk psychology" while adhering to a materialist vision of the world which did not violate the "generality of physics." Their proposal was, first of all, to reject the then dominant theories in philosophy of mind: behaviorism and the type identity theory. [8] The problem with logical behaviorism was that it failed to account for causation between mental states and such causation seems to be essential to psychological explanation, especially if one considers that behavior is not an effect of a single mental event/cause but is rather the effect of a chain of mental events/causes. The type-identity theory, on the other hand, failed to explain the fact that radically different physical systems can find themselves in the same identical mental state. Besides being deeply anthropocentric (why should humans be the only thinking organisms in the universe?), the type-type theory also failed to deal with accumulating evidence in the neurosciences that every single human brain is different from all the others. Hence, the impossibility of referring to common mental states in different physical systems manifests itself not only between different species but also between organisms of the same species. Donald Davidson (March 6, 1917 – August 30, 2003) was an American philosopher and the Willis S. and Marion Slusser Professor Emeritus of Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. ... Hilary Whitehall Putnam (born July 31, 1926) is a key figure in the philosophy of mind during the 20th century. ... In philosophy, materialism is that form of physicalism which holds that the only thing that can truly be said to exist is matter; that fundamentally, all things are composed of material and all phenomena are the result of material interactions. ... Behaviorism or behaviourism is an approach to psychology based on the proposition that behavior can be researched scientifically without recourse to inner mental states. ... Type physicalism (also known as Type Identity Theory, Type-Type theory or just Identity Theory) is the theory, in the philosophy of mind, which asserts that mental events are type-identical to the physical events in the brain with which they are correlated. ... Behaviorism or behaviourism is an approach to psychology based on the proposition that behavior can be researched scientifically without recourse to inner mental states. ...

An illustration of multiple realizability. M stands for mental and P stand for physical. It can be seen that more than one P can instantiate one M but not vice versa. Causal relations between states are represented by the arrows (M1 goes to M2, etc.)
Enlarge
An illustration of multiple realizability. M stands for mental and P stand for physical. It can be seen that more than one P can instantiate one M but not vice versa. Causal relations between states are represented by the arrows (M1 goes to M2, etc.)

The solution to these problems, according to Fodor, is to be found in functionalism, a hypothesis which was designed to overcome the failings of both dualism and reductionism. Without going into detail here, the idea is that what is important is the function of a mental state regardless of the physical substrate which implements it. The foundation for this view lies in the principle of the multiple realizability of the mental. Under this view, for example, I and a computer can both instantiate ("realize") the same functional state though we are made of completely different material stuff (see graphic at right). On this basis functionalism can be classifed as a form of token materialism.[9] Image File history File links 320px-Reduktionismus. ... Image File history File links 320px-Reduktionismus. ... Functionalism is a term with several senses: For functionalism in sociology, see Functionalism (sociology). ... It has been suggested that Combative dualism be merged into this article or section. ... Reductionism in philosophy describes a number of related, contentious theories that hold, very roughly, that the nature of complex things can always be reduced to (be explained by) simpler or more fundamental things. ... Multiple realizability, in the philosophy of mind, is the thesis that the same mental kind (property, state, event) can be realized by different physical kinds (properties, states or events). ...


Criticism

Almost all of Fodor's major ideas have been challenged by a wide variety of philosophers of diverse orientation. For example, the language of thought hypothesis (or LOTH) has been accused of either falling prey to a regressus ad infinitum or of being superfluous. Specifically, Simon Blackburn suggested in an article in 1984 that since Fodor explains the learning of natural languages as a process of formation and confirmation of hypotheses in the LOT, this leaves him open to the question of why the LOT itself should not be considered as just such a language which requires yet another and more fundamental representational substrate in which to form and confirm hypotheses so that the LOT itself can be learned. If natural language learning requires some representational substrate (the LOT) in order for it to be learned, why shouldn't the same be said for the LOT itself and then for the representational substrate of this representational subtrate and so on, ad infinitum? On the other hand, if such a representational substrate is not required for the LOT, then why should it be required for the learning of natural languages? In this case, the LOT would be superfluous. [10] Fodor, in response, argues that the LOT is unique in that it does not have to be learned via an antecedent language because it is innate. [citation needed] Fodors language of thought (LOT) hypothesis states that cognition is a process of computation over compositional mental representations. ... Simon Blackburn (born 1944) is a British academic philosopher also known for his efforts to popularise philosophy. ...


The question might now be asked: "How do we come to completely understand and symbolically represent what these innate functions actually are, assuming it is even possible for our representations of functions to correspond to some absolute fact of the world?" Generally one might argue that we have no way of knowing if the connotations associated with our perception of a particular function genuinely correspond to some fact about the "real" thing. Fred Dretske argues that misrepresentions of functions are ultimately a serious side effect of adopting a functionalist view-point. Take, for example, the attribution that a frog has a fly detector. We would like to say that one of the many innate functions of the frog is to detect flies. Yet, a frog can quite easily misrepresent a bumblebee to be a fly. What then do we say about this innate function that the frog has? It can no longer be seen as just a fly detector. Instead it seems necessary, in accounting for such exceptions to our functional rules, to add disjunctions to their hypothetical conditions. Consider the possibility that even the universal grammar code might very well be a misrepresention of the true innate function that the brain has which accounts for language acquisition. [citation needed] Fred Dretske, a philosopher, was one of the most influential epistimologists of his time. ...


Yet another argument againt the LOT was formulated by Daniel Dennett in 1981. The basic point of this argument is that it would seem, on the basis of the evidence of our behavior toward computers but also with regard to some of our own unconscious behavior, that explicit representation is not necessary for the explanation of propositional attitudes. During a game of chess with a computer program, we often attribute such attitudes to the computer, saying such things as "It thinks that the queen should be moved to the left". We attribute propositional attitudes to the computer and this helps us to explain and predict its behavior in various contexts. Yet no one would suggest that the computer is actually thinking or believing somewhere inside its circuits the equivalent of the propositional attitude "I believe I can kick this guy's butt" in Mentalese. The same is obviously true, suggests Dennett, of many of our everyday automatic behaviors such as "desiring to breathe clear air" in a stuffy environment. [11] Fodors language of thought (LOT) hypothesis states that cognition is a process of computation over compositional mental representations. ...


Fodor's self-proclaimed "extreme" concept nativism has been criticized by many linguists and philosophers of language. Kent Bach, for example, takes Fodor to task for his criticisms of lexical semantics and polysemy. Fodor claims that there is no lexical structure to such verbs as "keep", "get", "make" and "put". He suggests that, alternatively, "keep" simply expresses the concept KEEP (Fodor capitalizes concepts to distinguish them from properties, names or other such entities). If there is a straightforward one-to-one mapping between individual words and concepts, "keep your clothes on", "keep your receipt" and "keep washing your hands" will all share the same concept of KEEP under Fodor's theory. This concept presumably locks on to the unique external property of keeping. But, if this it true, then RETAIN must pick out a different property in RETAIN YOUR RECEIPT, since one can't retain one's cloths or retain washing one's hands. Fodor's theory also has a problem explaining how the concept FAST contributes, differently, to the contents of FAST CAR, FAST DRIVER, FAST TRACK, and FAST TIME. [12]. Whether or not the differing interpretations of "fast" in these sentences are specified in the semantics of English, or are the result of pragmatic inference, is a matter of debate. [13] Fodor's own response to this kind of criticism is expressed bluntly in Concepts: "People sometimes used to say that exist must be ambiguous because look at the difference between 'chairs exist' and 'numbers exist'. A familiar reply goes: the difference between the existence of chairs and the existence of numbers seems, on reflection, strikingly like the difference between numbers and chairs. Since you have the latter to explain the former, you don't also need 'exist' to be polysemic." [14] Kent Bach is a Professor of Philosophy at San Francisco State University. ... Lexical semantics is a field in computer science and linguistics which deals mainly with word meaning. ... Polysemy (from the Greek πολυσημεία = multiple meaning) is the capacity for a sign to have multiple meanings. ... Pragmatics is generally the study of natural language understanding, and specifically the study of how context influences the interpretation of meanings. ...


What makes Fodor's view of concepts extremely difficult to digest for many critics is simply his insistence that such a large, perhaps implausible, number of them are primitive and undefinable. For example, Fodor considers such concepts as BACHELOR, EFFECT, ISLAND, TRAPEZOID, VIXEN, and WEEK to be all primitive, innate and unanalyzable because they all fall into the category of what he calls "lexical concepts" (those for which our language has a single word). Against this view, Bach argues that the concept VIXEN is almost certainly composed out of the concepts FEMALE and FOX, BACHELOR out of SINGLE and MALE, and so on. [12]


References

  1. ^ McGinn, Colin (2002). The Making of a Philosopher. HarperCollins.
  2. ^ Fodor, Jerry A. (1981). Representations: Philosophical Essays on the Foundations of Cognitive Science. The MIT Press. ISBN 026256075.
  3. ^ Fodor, Jerry A. (1983). The Modularity of Mind:An Essay in Faculty Psychology. The MIT Press. ISBN 0262560259.
  4. ^ a b Fodor, Jerry A. (1990). A Theory of Content and Other Essays. The MIT Press. ISBN 0262560690.
  5. ^ Dennett, Daniel C. (1987). The Intentional Stance. The MIT Press.
  6. ^ Fodor, Jerry A.. "Fodor's Guide to Mental Representations". Mind (94): 76-100.
  7. ^ Fodor, J. Holism: A Shopper's Guide, (with E. Lepore), Blackwell, 1992, ISBN 0631181938.
  8. ^ Putnam, Hilary (1988). Mind, Language and Reality. Cambridge University Press.
  9. ^ Fodor, Jerry. "The Mind/Body Problem". Scientific American (244): 124-132.
  10. ^ Blackburn, S. (1984). Spreading the Word. Oxford University Press.
  11. ^ Dennett, D.C. (1981). Brainstorms: Philosophical Essays on Mind and Psychology. MIT Press.
  12. ^ a b Bach, Kent. "Review of Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong". San Diego Review.
  13. ^ Pustejovsky, J. (1995). "The Generative Lexicon". MIT Press.
  14. ^ Fodor, J. (1998). Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong. Oxford University Press.

Books

  • Hume Variations, Oxford University Press, 2003, ISBN 0199287333.
  • The Compositionality Papers , (with E. Lepore), Oxford University Press 2002, ISBN 0199252165.
  • The Mind Doesn't Work That Way: The Scope and Limits of Computational Psychology, MIT Press, 2000, ISBN 0262561468.
  • In Critical Condition, MIT Press, 1998, ISBN 026256128X.
  • Concepts: Where Cognitive Science Went Wrong, (The 1996 John Locke Lectures), Oxford University Press, 1998, ISBN 0198236360.
  • The Elm and the Expert, Mentalese and its Semantics, (The 1993 Jean Nicod Lectures), MIT Press, 1994, ISBN 0262560933.
  • Holism: A Consumer Update, (ed. with E. Lepore), Grazer Philosophische Studien, Vol 46. Rodopi, Amsterdam, 1993, ISBN 9051837135.
  • A Theory of Content and Other Essays, MIT Press, 1990, ISBN 0262560690.
  • Psychosemantics: The Problem of Meaning in the Philosophy of Mind, MIT Press, 1987, ISBN 0262560526.
  • The Modularity of Mind: An Essay on Faculty Psychology, MIT Press, 1983, ISBN 0262560259.
  • Representations: Essays on the Foundations of Cognitive Science, Harvard Press (UK) and MIT Press (US), 1979, ISBN 0262560275.
  • The Language of Thought, Harvard University Press, 1975, ISBN 0674510305.
  • The Psychology of Language, with T. Bever and M. Garrett, McGraw Hill, 1974, ISBN 0394306635.
  • Psychological Explanation, Random House, 1968, ISBN 0070214123.
  • The Structure of Language, with Jerrold Katz (eds.), Prentice Hall, 1964, ISBN 0138547033.

See also

The Jean Nicod Prize is awarded annually in Paris to a leading philosopher of mind or philosophically oriented cognitive scientist. ...

External links

  • Jerry Fodor's Homepage

  Results from FactBites:
 
Jerry Fodor at AllExperts (4173 words)
Jerry Fodor was born in New York City in 1935, where he continues to reside with his wife and his beloved cats.
Fodor revived the idea of modularity, without the notion of precise physical localizability, in the 1980s, and became one of the most articulate proponents for it with the 1983 publication of his monograph Modularity of Mind.
Fodor responds to this problem with what he defines as a "a slightly less crude causal theory." According to this approach, it is necessary to break the symmetry at the base of the crude causal theory.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

COMMENTARY     


Share your thoughts, questions and commentary here
Your name
Your comments

Want to know more?
Search encyclopedia, statistics and forums:

 


Press Releases |  Feeds | Contact
The Wikipedia article included on this page is licensed under the GFDL.
Images may be subject to relevant owners' copyright.
All other elements are (c) copyright NationMaster.com 2003-5. All Rights Reserved.
Usage implies agreement with terms, 1022, m