The Mind Doesn't Work Way obliges us to dismiss simplistic assumptions and focus on the hard issues we often hide under the rug. This book is an important as Modularity of Mind was almost twenty years ago. -- Jacques Mehler, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, France, and International School for Advanced Studies, Trieste, Italy For a close to a quarter of a century, Jerry Fodor has been delighting his friends and confounding his enemies in his take-no-prisoners campaign on behalf of the computational theory of cognition, the modularity of mind, and the innateness hypothesis. Many cognitive scientists have been won over and have sent as their goal a comprehensive theory of mind that rests on just these ideas. In this forcefully argued monograph, Fodor confounds these friends by making the case that this trio of ideas cannot explain what may be the most distinctive aspect of our mental life: its global flexibility. -- Jerry Samet, Department of Philosophy, Brandeis University
Jerry Fodor is Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University. His many books include In Critical Condition (MIT Press, 1998) and The Elm and the Expert (MIT Press, 1994).
How does the mind really work? We don't yet know, but in his previous writings, prolific Rutgers philosopher Fodor (Modularity of Mind; The Elm and the Expert) helped provide cognitive science with what he calls a Computational Theory of Mind (CTM). (The theory in brief: the mind works like a certain kind of computer, with built-in modes of operation; some of these modes are involved in language, as predicted by Noam Chomsky.) Fodor still supports such a theory of mind, but other scientists, he thinks, have misused the model: popular writers and influential thinkers like Steven Pinker (How the Mind Works) have hooked up CTM to sociobiology to give an inaccurate picture of thoughts and feelingsÄone that, Fodor argues, relies on wrong generalizations, unreliable assumptions and an unsupportable confidence that we already have the whole picture. This picture is called the New Synthesis, and Fodor writes to refute it. He also wishes to show, by contrast, what remains useful about computational models of biologically based mental processes. One of Fodor's arguments distinguishes between local and global cognition. Local cognitionÄlike understanding the word "cat"Äcan be explained by CTM, studied by linguists and traced to particular parts of the brain. Global cognitionÄlike deciding to acquire a catÄgenerally can't and may never be explained. The New Synthesis, Fodor says, has confused the two, and he sets out to untangle them. His prose is informal, exact and aimed at fairly serious nonspecialists: those who don't know who Chomsky or Alan Turing are, or what a syntactic structure is, aren't the audience for this book. Those who do know, you may read Fodor's case in one sitting, and with intense interestÄ whether or not they find his logic persuasive. (Sept.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
"The Mind Doesn't Work That Way obliges us to dismiss simplistic assumptions and focus on the hard issues we often hide under the rug. This book is as important as Modularity of Mind was almost twenty years ago." - Jacques Mehler, Centre National de Recherche Scientifique, Paris, and International School for Advanced Studies, Trieste