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RePresentations: Philosophical Essays on the Foundations of Cognitive Science Hardcover – May 28, 1981

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 356 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; 1st MIT Press ed edition (May 28, 1981)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262060795
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262060790
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,336,531 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This is bold and provocative Fodor at his best."
—Daniel C. Dennett

"I would say that these excursions into the implications of functionalism, intentionality, innateness, and the formalist approach to mentalism would have to rank among the most important works on the philosophical foundations of cognitive science available today."
—Z. Pylyshyn

"Fodor's reflections of the methodological assumptions of cognitive science are the most radical and most vigorous available. Whether one takes them to be a defense or a reductio ad absurdum of the field, one must certainly take them seriously indeed."
—H. Dreyfus

"In a time of much talk of naturalized epistemology and of interdisciplinary work between philosophy and science, Fodor is one of the very few who genuinely engages in it... He reveals the rich theoretical significance of empirical research at the same time as establishing principled ways of dealing with philosophical speculation about it. Fodor has thereby raised the discussion of the traditional mind/body problems to an important new level of theoretical sophistication. Anyone concerned with those problems, whether in philosophy, psychology, or artificial intelligence, cannot possibly afford to disregard his work."
—G. Rey

"Many of these essays are well known and have been widely discussed, but together they are even more impressive than the best of them alone. Cumulatively they constitute a bold and sophisticated theory about the nature of the cognitive mind, and about the status and strategy of the science that studies it. This makes Representations sound like a heavy and important book, and in a sense that is a fair assessment. These essays will shape discussion in the philosophy of psychology for years to come. But such a description also suggests that this is a serious and somber book, and nothing could be farther from the truth. Fodor's style is casual and cheerful, now and again almost cheeky. When polemics are in order, as they often are, Fodor's style is to tweak his opponents' noses goodnaturedly."
Stephen P. Stich, Contemporary Psychology

About the Author

Jerry A. Fodor is Professor of Philosophy at Rutgers University and at the City University of New York Graduate Center. He is the author of Modularity of Mind and RePresentations: Philosophical Essays on the Foundations of Cognitive Science.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Lee D. Carlson HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on December 18, 2002
Format: Hardcover
The mind-body problem is of relatively recent vintage in Western philosophy, but it has become of importance of late due to the role it plays in the "strong A.I." problem. Although the field of artificial intelligence is no where near to creating thinking machines, let alone conscious ones, the debate over whether the latter is indeed possible has been raging now for several decades. Sometimes philosophy raises and debates issues that have no immediate practical significance, and the possibility of "strong A.I." is currently one of these. But developments in A.I. may indeed make these discussion not as vacuous as they currently are, and so it may in some sense be helpful to analyze some of these arguments, with also the hope that they can shed light on the nature of intelligence and help those who are interested in the building of an artificial mind.
The author considers his book a blending of three ideas, namely functionalism, intensionality, and mental representation. He introduces these via a consideration of the arguments against Cartesian dualism that were being formulated in the early 1960's. The author labels "logical behaviorism" and "central state identity theory" as being two of the strategies for doing this. In logical behaviorism, mental processes are semantically equivalent to behavioral dispositions, and the definitions of these reduced to that of stimulus and response parameters, these parameters left essentially undefined. The author gives counterexamples to show that logical behaviorism falls short of being a theory of mental causation that allows nontrivial psychological theories to be constructed.
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