The Mind Doesn't Work that Way: The Scope and Limits of Computational Psychology

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MIT Press, 2001 - Psychology - 126 pages
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In this engaging book, Jerry Fodor argues against the widely held view that mental processes are largely computations, that the architecture of cognition is massively modular, and that the explanation of our innate mental structure is basically Darwinian. Although Fodor has praised the computational theory of mind as the best theory of cognition that we have got, he considers it to be only a fragment of the truth. In fact, he claims, cognitive scientists do not really know much yet about how the mind works (the book's title refers to Steve Pinker's How the Mind Works).

Fodor's primary aim is to explore the relationship among computational and modular theories of mind, nativism, and evolutionary psychology. Along the way, he explains how Chomsky's version of nativism differs from that of the widely received New Synthesis approach. He concludes that although we have no grounds to suppose that most of the mind is modular, we have no idea how nonmodular cognition could work. Thus, according to Fodor, cognitive science has hardly gotten started.

 

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This book is a great introduction into the theory that powers cognitive science. Fodor provides a rigorous story about how the mind might work. He vividly presents how this story fails to account for some central features of the mind. I think the book loses a little steam towards the end. Still, I found it engaging, lucid and very helpful. 

Contents

Still Snowing
1
Varieties of Nativism
9
Syntax and Its Discontents
23
Two Ways That You Probably Cant Explain Abduction
41
How Many Modules Would You Say There Are?
55
Darwin among the Modules
79
Why We Are So Good at Catching Cheaters
101
Notes
105
References
121
Author Index
125
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