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Ideas of Jerry A. Fodor, by Text

[American, 1935 - 2017, A pupil of Noam Chomsky. Professor at Rutgers University.]

1975 The Language of Thought
p.13 If concept-learning is hypothesis-testing, that needs innate concepts to get started [Margolis/Laurence]
p.195 Since the language of thought is the same for all, it must be something like logical form [Devlin]
1975 How there could be a private language
p.389 p.389 We must have expressive power BEFORE we learn language
1983 The Modularity of Mind
p.107 Mental modules are specialised, automatic, and isolated [Okasha]
1986 works
p.9 Is thought a syntactic computation using representations? [Rey]
p.33 How does anything get outside itself? [Martin,CB]
p.39 Is intentionality outwardly folk psychology, inwardly mentalese? [Lyons]
p.54 Maybe narrow content is physical, broad content less so [Lyons]
p.82 Are beliefs brains states, but picked out at a "higher level"? [Lyons]
1987 Psychosemantics
p.9 Mind is a set of hierarchical 'homunculi', which are made up in turn from subcomponents [Lycan]
4 Intro p.97 Intentionality doesn't go deep enough to appear on the physicists' ultimate list of things
Ch.2 p.33 A particle and a coin heads-or-tails pick out to perfectly well-defined predicates and properties
Ch.3 p.80 We can't use propositions to explain intentional attitudes, because they would need explaining
p. 15 p.15 Contrary to commonsense, most of what is in the mind seems to be unlearned
p. 18 p.18 Hume's associationism offers no explanation at all of rational thought
p. 20 p.20 We may be able to explain rationality mechanically
p. 23 p.23 Any piece of software can always be hard-wired
p. 25 p.25 In CRTT thought may be represented, content must be
p. 30 p.30 Supervenience gives good support for mental causation
p. 45 p.45 Mental states may have the same content but different extensions
p. 50 p.50 Grice thinks meaning is inherited from the propositional attitudes which sentences express
p. 51 p.51 Obsession with narrow content leads to various sorts of hopeless anti-realism
p. 60 p.60 Meaning holism is a crazy doctrine
p. 67 p.67 If mind is just physical, how can it follow the rules required for intelligent thought?
p. 67 p.67 Behaviourism has no theory of mental causation
p. 70 p.70 Very different mental states can share their contents, so content doesn't seem to be constructed from functional role
p. 79 p.79 The meaning of a sentence derives from its use in expressing an attitude
p. 84 p.84 'Jocasta' needs to be distinguished from 'Oedipus's mother' because they are connected by different properties
p.107 p.107 Whatever in the mind delivers falsehood is parasitic on what delivers truth
p.125 p.125 Many different verification procedures can reach 'star', but it only has one semantic value
p.132 p.132 Evolution suggests that innate knowledge of human psychology would be beneficial
p.133 p.133 Sticklebacks have an innate idea that red things are rivals
p.136 p.136 Belief and desire are structured states, which need mentalese
p.138 p.138 Causal powers must be a crucial feature of mental states
p.140 p.140 Do identical thoughts have identical causal roles?
p.x p.-7 Folk psychology is the only explanation of behaviour we have
1989 Making Mind Matter More
p.151 p.151 Contrary to the 'anomalous monist' view, there may well be intentional causal laws
p.153 p.153 Lots of physical properties are multiply realisable, so why shouldn't beliefs be?
p.154 p.154 Either intentionality causes things, or epiphenomenalism is true
1993 The Elm and the Expert
1.2 p.4 Is content basically information, fixed externally?
1.2b p.6 For holists no two thoughts are ever quite the same, which destroys faith in meaning
1.2b p.7 Broad semantics holds that the basic semantic properties are truth and denotation
1.3 p.9 Psychology has to include the idea that mental processes are typically truth-preserving
1.3 p.24 It is claimed that reference doesn't fix sense (Jocasta), and sense doesn't fix reference (Twin Earth)
2.I p.29 XYZ (Twin Earth 'water') is an impossibility
2.I p.37 In the information view, concepts are potentials for making distinctions
2.I p.37 Semantic externalism says the concept 'elm' needs no further beliefs or inferences
2.II p.47 Propositional attitudes are propositions presented in a certain way
2.II p.50 Truth conditions require a broad concept of content
3 p.77 Inferences are surely part of the causal structure of the world
4 p.81 I say psychology is intentional, semantics is informational, and thinking is computation
4 p.82 Cartesians consider interaction to be a miracle
4 p.84 Semantics v syntax is the interaction problem all over again
4 p.85 Hume has no theory of the co-ordination of the mind
4 p.89 Rationality has mental properties - autonomy, productivity, experiment
4 p.92 We are probably the only creatures that can think about our own thoughts
4 p.92 Knowing the cause of a thought is almost knowing its content
4 p.92 We can deliberately cause ourselves to have true thoughts - hence the value of experiments
4 p.92 To know the content of a thought is to know what would make it true
4 p.94 Interrogation and experiment submit us to having beliefs caused
4 p.96 If meaning is information, that establishes the causal link between the state of the world and our beliefs
4 p.97 Theories are links in the causal chain between the environment and our beliefs
4 p.98 Participation in an experiment requires agreement about what the outcome will mean
4 p.98 Externalist semantics are necessary to connect the contents of beliefs with how the world is
4 p.99 An experiment is a deliberate version of what informal thinking does all the time
4 p.101 Control of belief is possible if you know truth conditions and what causes beliefs
4 p.102 A standard naturalist view is realist, externalist, and computationalist, and believes in rationality
App A n.1 p.126 Type physicalism equates mental kinds with physical kinds
App B p.118 Concepts aren't linked to stuff; they are what is caused by stuff
1994 Jerry A. Fodor on himself
p.292 p.292 Folk psychology explains behaviour by reference to intentional states like belief and desire
p.293 p.293 Intentional science needs objects with semantic and causal properties, and which obey laws
p.293 p.293 Laws are true generalisations which support counterfactuals and are confirmed by instances
p.296 p.296 Intentional states and processes may be causal relations among mental symbols
p.296 p.296 Associations are held to connect Ideas together in the way the world is connected together
p.298 p.298 Most psychological properties seem to be multiply realisable
p.299 p.299 How could the extrinsic properties of thoughts supervene on their intrinsic properties?
1998 Concepts:where went wrong
p.188 Fodor is now less keen on the innateness of concepts [Lowe]
Ch.1 p.4 Empiricists use dispositions reductively, as 'possibility of sensation' or 'possibility of experimental result'
Ch.1 p.6 I prefer psychological atomism - that concepts are independent of epistemic capacities
Ch.1 p.8 Mental representations are the old 'Ideas', but without images
Ch.1 p.9 English has no semantic theory, just associations between sentences and thoughts
Ch.1 p.10 Associationism can't explain how truth is preserved
Ch.2 p.25 It is essential to the concept CAT that it be satisfied by cats
Ch.3 p.45 We have no successful definitions, because they all use indefinable words
Ch.3 p.54 If 'exist' is ambiguous in 'chairs and numbers exist', that mirrors the difference between chairs and numbers
Ch.5 p.88 Definable concepts have constituents, which are necessary, individuate them, and demonstrate possession
Ch.5 p.100 Many concepts lack prototypes, and complex prototypes aren't built from simple ones
Ch.5 p.117 The theory theory can't actually tell us what concepts are
2000 In a Critical Condition
Ch. 1 p.7 Maybe explaining the mechanics of perception will explain the concepts involved
Ch. 2 p.13 Functionalists see pains as properties involving relations and causation
Ch. 2 p.16 Type physicalism is a stronger claim than token physicalism
Ch. 2 p.21 The world is full of messy small things producing stable large-scale properties (e.g. mountains)
Ch. 3 p.27 Transcendental arguments move from knowing Q to knowing P because it depends on Q
Ch. 3 p.27 Are concepts best seen as capacities?
Ch. 3 p.29 For Pragmatists having a concept means being able to do something
Ch. 3 p.33 Analysis is impossible without the analytic/synthetic distinction
Ch. 3 n2 p.34 It seems likely that analysis of concepts is impossible, but justification can survive without it
Ch. 4 p.43 Don't define something by a good instance of it; a good example is a special case of the ordinary example
Ch. 4 p.44 The goal of thought is to understand the world, not instantly sort it into conceptual categories
Ch. 5 p.57 If to understand "fish" you must know facts about them, where does that end?
Ch. 6 p.64 Language is ambiguous, but thought isn't
Ch. 6 p.66 Despite all the efforts of philosophers, nothing can ever be reduced to anything
Ch. 6 p.66 It seems unlikely that meaning can be reduced to communicative intentions, or any mental states
Ch. 6 p.68 The theory of the content of thought as 'Mentalese' explains why the Private Language Argument doesn't work
Ch. 6 p.68 Mentalese doesn't require a theory of meaning
Ch. 6 p.69 Do intentional states explain our behaviour?
Ch. 6 p.70 Content can't be causal role, because causal role is decided by content
Ch. 6 p.72 Mentalese may also incorporate some natural language
Ch. 8 p.84 Why bother with neurons? You don't explain bird flight by examining feathers
Ch. 8 p.85 Modern connectionism is just Hume's theory of the 'association' of 'ideas'
Ch.11 p.127 Modules have encapsulation, inaccessibility, private concepts, innateness
Ch.12 p.149 Experience can't explain itself; the concepts needed must originate outside experience
Ch.12 p.149 According to empiricists abstraction is the fundamental mental process
Ch.12 p.150 Rationalists say there is more to a concept than the experience that prompts it
Ch.13 p.154 Obvious modules are language and commonsense explanation
Ch.13 p.155 Something must take an overview of the modules
Ch.13 p.155 Blindness doesn't destroy spatial concepts
Ch.13 p.159 Modules make the world manageable
Ch.13 p.159 Modules analyse stimuli, they don't tell you what to do
Ch.14 p.165 Babies talk in consistent patterns
Ch.16 p.192 Berkeley seems to have mistakenly thought that chairs are the same as after-images
Ch.16 p.193 How do you count beliefs?
Ch.17 p.203 Empirical approaches see mind connections as mirrors/maps of reality
Ch.17 p.204 Rationalism can be based on an evolved computational brain with innate structure
Ch.17 p.204 Turing invented the idea of mechanical rationality (just based on syntax)
Ch.17 p.207 If I have a set of mental modules, someone had better be in charge of them!
Ch.17 p.207 Rationality rises above modules
Ch.17 p.210 Modules have in-built specialist information
Ch.17 p.210 The function of a mind is obvious
2008 LOT 2
Ch.1 p.7 Only the labels of nodes have semantic content in connectionism, and they play no role
Ch.1 p.9 Pragmatism is the worst idea ever
Ch.1 p.13 Before you can plan action, you must decide on the truth of your estimate of success
Ch.1 p.14 Knowing that must come before knowing how
Ch.1 p.16 For the referential view of thought, the content of a concept is just its reference
Ch.1 p.17 If concept content is reference, then my Twin and I are referring to the same stuff
Ch.12 p.12 Cartesians put concept individuation before concept possession
Ch.2.1 p.25 In the Representational view, concepts play the key linking role
Ch.2.1 n3 p.27 Definitions often give necessary but not sufficient conditions for an extension
Ch.2.1.2 n14 p.33 'Inferential-role semantics' says meaning is determined by role in inference
Ch.2.2 p.47 Having a concept isn't a pragmatic matter, but being able to think about the concept
Ch.2.3 p.48 Mental states have causal powers
Ch.3 App p.94 Mental representations name things in the world, but also files in our memory
Ch.3 App p.95 We think in file names
Ch.3 App p.95 Names in thought afford a primitive way to bring John before the mind
Ch.3 App p.96 'Paderewski' has two names in mentalese, for his pianist file and his politician file
Ch.3 App p.97 Some beliefs are only inferred when needed, like 'Shakespeare had not telephone'
Ch.3 App p.100 Concepts have two sides; they are files that face thought, and also face subject-matter
Ch.3.2 p.56 Frege's puzzles suggest to many that concepts have sense as well as reference
Ch.3.3 p.61 If concepts have sense, we can't see the connection to their causal powers
Ch.3.3 p.62 Belief in 'senses' may explain intentionality, but not mental processes
Ch.3.3 p.64 Co-referring terms differ if they have different causal powers
Ch.3.3 n28 p.63 Associative thinking avoids syntax, but can't preserve sense, reference or truth
Ch.3.3 n29 p.63 Connectionism gives no account of how constituents make complex concepts
Ch.3.5 p.73 Ambiguities in English are the classic reason for claiming that we don't think in English
Ch.3.5 p.76 Who cares what 'philosophy' is? Most pre-1950 thought doesn't now count as philosophy
Ch.3.5 p.86 Semantics (esp. referential semantics) allows inferences from utterances to the world
Ch.3.5 p.88 Semantics relates to the world, so it is never just psychological
Ch.4.3 p.111 There's statistical, logical, nomological, conceptual and metaphysical possibility
Ch.4.3 p.112 You can't think 'brown dog' without thinking 'brown' and 'dog'
Ch.4.4 p.118 Frame Problem: how to eliminate most beliefs as irrelevant, without searching them?
Ch.4.5 n33 p.121 P-and-Q gets its truth from the truth of P and truth of Q, but consistency isn't like that
Ch.5.2 n6 p.135 Abstractionism claims that instances provide criteria for what is shared
Ch.5.4 p.146 Nobody knows how concepts are acquired
Ch.5.4 p.150 Maybe stereotypes are a stage in concept acquisition (rather than a by-product)
Ch.5.4 p.155 One stereotype might be a paradigm for two difference concepts
Ch.5.4 p.157 The different types of resemblance don't resemble one another
Ch.5.4 p.162 We have an innate capacity to form a concept, once we have grasped the stereotype
Ch.7 p.199 A truth-table, not inferential role, defines 'and'
Ch.7 p.199 We refer to individuals and to properties, and we use singular terms and predicates
Ch1 p.20 Compositionality requires that concepts be atomic