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The Modularity of Mind: An Essay on Faculty Psychology

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0262560252
ISBN-10: 0262560259
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Editorial Reviews

Review

The issue Fodor writes about is central to the psychology of perception, cognition, and action. It is the central issue for anyone who would seriously study the neurobiology of behavior: Is the mind organized horizontally or vertically or both, and what are the consequences to psychology of proceeding on one assumption or the other? This has been little analyzed and written about. Jerry Fodor has repaired that omission and had done it brilliantly.

(Alvin Liberman, Yale University, President, Haskins Laboratories)

Jerry Fodor's Modularity of Mind is a beginning... [It] is the first major monograph in this century to explore some variations on faculty psychology [and] is the best thing Fodor has done since The Language of Thought, mainly because it takes such a wide sweep and yet manages to concentrate all the arguments upon the central issue in both neuropsychology and information-processing psychology.

(John C. Marshall, The Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford)

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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Product Details

  • Paperback: 145 pages
  • Publisher: A Bradford Book / MIT Press (April 6, 1983)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262560259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262560252
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #123,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By A Customer on October 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
Fodor's short book made "faculty psychology" respectable again and has generated a large literature in psychology, philosophy, and linguistics. Fodor offers brilliant arguments that the mind has special-purpose perceptual and linguistic modules. A central thesis of Fodor's book is that these modules are "informationally encapsulated" -- that is, the modules do their work without being able to access the beliefs that the person has. Thus in an important sense perception is theory-neutral, because what you believe will not affect what you see, hear, etc. For a contrasting view, read chapter two of Paul Churchland's Scientific Realism and the Plasticity of Perception. By the way, Fodor's book is brilliant, but don't look for the entertainingly malicious flashes of humor that typify many of his essays.
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This is a phenomenal book - probably the finest extended work of empirically informed philosophy of mind of the last fifty years. I enjoy Fodor's other work, but this is his magnum opus. His rich empirical insights are as relevant as ever, and none of the major ideas in the book have been settled one way or another by more recent data (though the debates continue to rage as fiercely as ever). Fodor writes with clarity and style, and presents complex experiments and ideas very appealingly. There's no-one else writing today (except perhaps Ned Block) who manages to pull this off so well. While this book might be a bit of a challenge to a non-philosopher, it's certainly readable, and full of insights. For an undergraduate philosopher of mind, it's positively essential.
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Format: Paperback
This classic in cognitive science has a great deal to say, but an awkward way of saying it. Author Jerry A. Fodor's style is academic and dense, a potential barrier to all but the most determined, well-prepared reader. Arcane and brilliant, Fodor intersperses colloquial jests with jargon-burdened exposition, leading one to believe that he could have written a book more accessible to the lay reader had he wished to do so. We find, however, that the book repays the persistent, dedicated reader. The reward is a fascinating exploration of the mind, drawing on the literature of epistemology and psychology, with occasional detours down the rarely explored byways of phrenology.
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