Philosopher Jerry Fodor and cognitive scientist Stephen Pinker are continuing their tussle over the structure of the mind in a recently published exchange.
Pinker wrote a book in 1999 entitled ‘How the Mind Works‘ which argues that the mind can be understood as a computational or information processing device. This, he says, consists mostly of independent but co-operating mental modules that can be inherited and selected for by evolution. An approach strongly linked to the new discipline of evolutionary psychology.
Fodor dismissed most of these ideas in 2000 with a book entitled ‘The Mind Doesn’t Work that Way‘ and the two have carried on their dispute in a recent edition of the journal Mind and Language.
Pinker argues his latest case in an article entitled ‘So How Does the Mind Work?’.
The subsequent commentaries get quite lively with Fodor starting with “If you really must have a defense mechanism, I recommend denial. It’s special charm is that it applies to itself, so if it doesn‚Äôt work, you can deny that too.”
Earning the comeback from Pinker “This kind of language can be paraphrased as, ‘I really don’t have an argument here, but if I dismiss the opposition with enough confidence, perhaps readers will assume that I’m right'”.
Link to PDF of Pinker’s article ‘So How Does the Mind Work?’.
Wikipedia entries for Jerry Fodor and Stephen Pinker.