Minds without Meanings: An Essay on the Content of Concepts by Jerry A. Fodor

By Jerry A. Fodor

In cognitive technological know-how, conceptual content material is usually understood because the “meaning” of a psychological illustration. This place increases mostly empirical questions on what techniques are, what shape they absorb psychological tactics, and the way they hook up with the area they're approximately. In Minds with no which means, Jerry Fodor and Zenon Pylyshyn evaluate many of the proposals recommend to reply to those questions and locate that none of them is remotely defensible.

Fodor and Pylyshyn ascertain that each one of those proposals proportion a dedication to a two-factor concept of conceptual content material, which holds that the content material of an idea comprises its feel including its reference. Fodor and Pylyshyn argue as a substitute that there's no conclusive case opposed to the potential of a thought of thoughts that takes reference as their sole semantic estate. any such conception, if right, would supply for the naturalistic account of content material that cognitive technological know-how lacks—and badly wishes. Fodor and Pylyshyn provide a caricature of the way this conception could be constructed into an account of perceptual reference that's greatly suitable with empirical findings and with the view that the psychological methods effecting perceptual reference are mostly preconceptual, modular, and encapsulated.

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That is the substance of the “language of thought” (LOT) hypothesis (Fodor 1975). There is doubtless much of interest to say about implications for cognitive theory of differences between iconic and discursive symbol systems (for more on the issue of “visual thinking,” see Pylyshyn 2003, ch. 8). 5 26 Chapter 2 Second Reason Why Concepts Can’t Be Images: “Black Swan” Arguments The kinds of points we’ve just been making are familiar from philosophy. But other considerations, less widely recognized, also tend to the conclusion that concepts can’t be images (mental or otherwise).

And suppose that, in his enthusiasm, he adds that the life of the mind—in particular the thinking of thoughts—consists in the 48 Chapter 2 excitation of such interconceptual associations. ”) The point we’re urging is that ANNs, so construed, arrived prerefuted. Even if concepts are states of associative networks of neurons, thinking isn’t the activation of links between the nodes in such networks. This is a problem for ANN theorists because the question of what conceptual content is and the question of what thinking is must certainly be very closely related: concepts are the constituents of thoughts; they’re what thoughts are made of, and thoughts get their semantics from their conceptual constituents (viz.

20 The way that kings are similar to one another is quite different from the way that oboes or crickets are. 21 In any case, concepts can’t be stereotypes. The argument that they can’t is surprisingly straightforward: If concepts are stereotypes, stereotypes have to compose; if stereotypes don’t compose, Concepts Misconstrued 43 the productivity of concepts defies explanation. But (unlike definitions), stereotypes don’t compose. Here’s the classic example: there are stereotypic fish—trout, as it might be.

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